Alexa Echo

Notes from Voice Summit 2019

I spent some of this past week at the massive Voice Summit 2019.  Thousands attended to learn and share their experience in the Voice space.  Attendees and speakers were all from a broad set of backgrounds. A lot of the Summit’s speakers and workshops were given by the companies that provide smart speakers and digital Assistants, like Amazon with Alexa and Google.  In addition to helping to market the event, Amazon Alexa staffed a lot of Workshops and Breakout sessions, most of which were aimed at helping developers hone their skills in the voice space. Never used AWS services to boost your skills feature set? They held sessions to walk attendees through exactly what to do.  Samsung's Bixby and Microsoft’s Cortana also made appearances at the summit, by also hosting workshops and announcing new feature releases on the big stage.

It appears that the major Voice Platforms are going about their devices differently. However, one big takeaway from the event is the area that all the platforms seem to agree on. These devices require serious computing services.  Between storage, compute power, scalability, etc. the main platforms agree, you need a strong back-end to make a powerful voice application. Amazon, through their AWS services, Google through its “Cloud Computing” and Microsoft through Azure, all offer options to support an amazing voice experience.  It became a major theme of the Summit. Voice is able to work because of a culmination of technology. Great 4G or WiFi allows the voice devices to communicate with servers in the cloud to quickly give the user helpful information. It is the expertise of all these things that make the most compelling voice applications. This was one side of the conference, the other was all about making great dialog.

The consensus seemed to be, in order to make a compelling voice application, you need great computing, and you need great dialog. Voice applications are easy enough to make and implement; they are hard to make helpful and sticky.  On Alexa alone, a massive amount (over 90%) of skills are used once by a user, and they never return. The emphasis was put on the computing, you need useful information and tasks for a compelling skill, but more than that, you need to get the user in a compelling way.  The voice interaction needs to be quick and to the point.

Alexa and other devices allow for you to change the native assistant’s voice and replace it with actual human voice overs. The number of voice actors at the Summit was quite astonishing.  I counted at least 5 sessions that were focused on voice acting for the voice assistant age. Speakers talked about how the use of human voice differentiated their voice application and made it feel more natural.  

Many other speakers talked about how they use context to help speed up their voice experiences.  By remembering users, skills can quickly repeat actions without re-entering data. Every time I check the weather, I shouldn’t need to tell Alexa where I am.  Voice applications, that take advantage of this have succeeded. Voice applications even allow for third party integration. Want to know the balance of your bank account? Use your username and password once, then get the answer quickly every time you ask.  Similar to other Applications driven by User Experience, voice applications that are able to reduce customer friction have found the most success to date. Just because its called Conversational UI doesn’t mean you have to architect a half hour gab session just to get some basic information from your device.  Interactions designed for efficiency are getting the most utilization.

Find out more about how Voice could help you by reaching out to our team Alexa Subject Matter Experts, VUI designers and Developers:

https://www.bluefintechnologypartners.com/voice-interface-development

Checking-In with Voice

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Photo Source:

Geek Wire

Voice in Hospitality

Just this past October, the Marriott Group welcomed its first Alexa in guest rooms in North Carolina. However, this isn’t the first time Alexa has been in hotels. In 2016, Wynn Resorts installed over 5,000 Alexas in their rooms.

In June, Amazon launched Alexa for Hospitality. With the help of Alexa, guests can ask her questions, such as:

  • Alexa, order room service.

  • Alexa, order one more towel.

  • Alexa, turn on the TV.

  • Alexa, book a spa appointment.

  • Alexa, help me check out.

This simple integration of Alexa into existing services and amenities can bring guests’ experiences to a new level. Now, guests will even be able to connect their Amazon account to their hotel room’s Alexa and will disconnect once they check-out.

Now, it’s not just Amazon and Alexa taking over the hospitality voice market. Recently, a provider of digital guestbooks for private accommodations, Hostfully, partnered with Virtual Concierge Service to integrate Hostfully’s guidebooks into voice assistants.

Property managers are also using voice applications. For example, property managers are buying smart kits and installing them into their lighting controls synced to voice. Some property managers have even recorded their own personal recommendations to guests. It’s all about the ease of communication between guests and property managers. These are just some of the many ways voice assistants are innovating the hospitality business.

Voice Special Capabilities in Hospitality

The Alexa for Hospitality system is a tool itself where hotels can update information, enable skills, adjust settings, and even track usage. It will even allow hoteliers to measure guest engagement through analytics and reporting.

There are many other opportunities for hotels to capitalize on Voice products. PhocusWire outlined a few in a recent article:

  • Total revenue per available room

  • Average daily rate

  • Net promoter scores

  • Labor cost as a percentage of sales

One specific example includes a company developing a speaker skill that can integrate a hotel’s

revenue management system which makes for hotels to tap into the data they need, but using simple and recognizable voice commands. Because of voice technology, hoteliers can access their data anywhere.

Innovators in Voice

Right now is the perfect opportunity to jump integrate voice into your hospitality business. We’re here to help enhance your guests’ experiences. Here at Bluefin, we can customize your guest’s experiences by building you a custom voice application. Don’t be the last one to check-in, call us now!

Serving Your Customer Through Voice

Customer Service in the Voice Age Customer engagement, brand loyalty, and customer retention are all rewards for having outstanding customer service. With long waiting times, waiting on hold is a customer’s worst nightmare.

In this age, technology is being used to improve their customer experience. From cutting down wait time to understanding a caller’s intent better, voice is bettering a customer’s journey. Being customer-centric is essential for any company. So how can voice bring your customer service to the top?

Amazon Chat Bots

Last year, Amazon delivered Amazon Chat Bots. Amazon’s Lex allows companies to create intelligent conversational chatbots. These chatbots are able to recognize human speech and can understand the caller’s intent - thus, minimizing the need to speak in specific phrases. Without even talking with an agent, a caller can change their password, request a balance on an account, and even schedule an appointment through these chatbots.

Maximizing Voice in Customer Service

Now, speech recognition software is used in call centers to handle incoming customer calls. Instead of pushing a button to answer a question, the customer interacts with the system by speaking instead. With speech recognition software, companies can route callers to many different services during a call based on answers.

Now with AI technology, companies are using AI voice services through:

  • Automating call types and chats, meaning routing to order status, payment, reservations, and return services easier
  • Gathering data before talking to a live agent
  • Conducting outbound calls and texts to remind or alert customers.

Voice will significantly cut down those pesky wait call lines and improve customer morale. Contact us to learn how you can integrate voice into your customer service.

Sources:

https://aws.amazon.com/chatbots-in-call-centers/

https://searchcrm.techtarget.com/report/Leveraging-speech-recognition-technology-in-call-centers

Photo Source: https://www.getcontactnumber.com/computer-hardware/echo-alexa-customer-service/