A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

Monthly Archives: October 2019

October 28, 2019

Your Customer’s Emotional State Matters

When you’re in different emotional states, you use different word choices. Think about that when you plan your skill. Children are amazing to help build a skill because their emotional states can change on a dime. For example, looking at a bank statement doesn’t need a flippant tone in response.

Your brand has been building a tone for years – now it’s literal. So think about that when building a skill as it should be consistent with the brand. Is casual okay? Am I being consistent with our past branding? This point is made at the 25:30 mark of this video that captures a 40-minute presentation by Susan & Scot Westwater at the recent “Lingo Fest” conference (check out their podcast called “Pragmatic Talk”)…

October 23, 2019

Update Your Product’s Name for Voice

Recently, I blogged about this free 48-page playbook by “360i” about what you should know about voice from a marketing perspective. This excerpt from a note (on page 74) by Sean Flynn of 360i about how companies should consider updating their product names for voice makes sense:

Consumers looking for specific products likely will not refer to them by the SKUs (“stock keeping units”) listed on Amazon or existing e-commerce sites. Consider updating product naming conventions to ensure the right products (especially if they come in a variety of sizes) surface in Voice results. This practice goes back to the brilliant basics of e-commerce. Make sure your product description and landing pages include the most relevant details about the product and uses keywords that your user is likely to search with.

Broc Romanek

October 21, 2019

How Testing for Voice Should Work (Early & Often)

As Susan & Scot Westwater discuss in their “Pragmatic Talk” podcast (episode 4), you need to test your skill not just to validate it, but to also improve it. And since the customer determines where they go, the testing needs to be rigorous, uncontrolled, free-wheeling guerilla-style. Test it to break it – to truly test the boundaries. Use different states of emotion when asking the skill for responses. Different types of utterances, intents, language. Find out whether a truly natural language conversation will work.

The good news is that you can – and should – start testing right away. You don’t need to wait until you’ve spent the time & money on a finished product. Start testing right from the beginning.

October 17, 2019

Google Rejoining Hearables Market

Dave Kemp really knows the hearables market. His analysis always runs deep – here’s an excerpt from his latest about Google’s Pixel Buds 2.0:

Given the meteoric rise of the hearables market, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Amazon, Microsoft and Google are joining (Google, re-joining) Apple and Samsung in the hearables arena. While the market might be big and swelling, it’s also due to become increasingly cut-throat as the market fills up with more and more offerings. So, how exactly will Pixel Buds look to stand apart?

The most obvious answer to this is Google Assistant, which is arguably the most intelligent and capable voice assistant on the market today. I recently wrote a post pondering which of these new hearables will ultimately become the “Android-ecosystem AirPods” and there’s a case to be made that Pixel Buds’ path to becoming an AirPods-like hit for the Android ecosystem, runs squarely through Google’s ability to articulate the increasing value of having its voice assistant reside in Google’s own hearable.

There are parts of this announcement that are a tad bit concerning, however. As Bret Kinsella pointed out, waiting until spring of 2020 might be a mistake. The reason being is that the 2019 holiday season is incredibly important for the new entrants in the hearables space to gain initial market share and momentum as the hearables’ market begins to become crowded. As Nick Hunn mentioned in his recent piece, these new entrants are not likely to poach from Apple as the consumer satisfaction rates of AirPods is too high, and therefore will likely be incremental sales, largely catering to the Android market.

By foregoing this year’s holiday season, Google is essentially ceding the early market to Amazon’s Echo Buds due out later this month (along with Microsoft, Samsung and other hearables manufacturers too). Given that Amazon is Google closest VoiceFirst competitor, this seems like a poor decision, especially as Google owns such a dominant position on the on-the-go voice assistant market through its Android handset ecosystem. This might ultimately open the door for Amazon to gain the Alexa foothold it so desperately needs outside of the home, via Echo Buds targeting Android users.

October 16, 2019

Google to Offer John Legend & Issa Rae’s Voice as an Option

From “Rain,” here’s a summary of this Verge article:

Following John Legend, Issa Rae is now the second celebrity providing her voice to Google Assistant as a “voice cameo” for users. By enabling the voice, her recorded replies will be triggered for a specific set of queries. For now, users wanting to hear John Legend or Issa Rae voices can access them for free, unlike Alexa’s upcoming launch of Samuel L. Jackson’s voice. It is early days with only a few celebs entering the voice assistant world, but it is expected that many more will follow.

October 15, 2019

How to Staff a Voice Team

Recently, I blogged about this free 48-page playbook by “360i” about what you should know about voice from a marketing perspective. One of the best pieces in the playbook is a chart of the core skill sets your voice team will need – and an explanation of how each of those skill sets will need to be deployed. See pages 44-45 of the playbook…

October 7, 2019

TV’s “Modern Family” & the Smart Refrigerator

You know something is on the verge of being mainstream when it gets featured in a major TV show. That’s why the most recent episode of “Modern Family” is worth noting. This article drives home the point:

Mitchell and Cameron are hands down one of the funniest and sweetest couples on the show. They have loads of petty fights and then make up for it in the sweetest possible way. The couple is also strangely insecure about their relationship and can’t handle any new person entering their lives as they fear that their relationship might be at risk. Episode 2 of ‘Modern Family’ season 11 saw just that.

Cameron brings home a new smart refrigerator named Bridget. During his brief absence, Mitch and Bridget get very close. Cam catches Mitch singing a song standing very close to Bridget and trying to embrace her. He gets very upset when he notices that Bridget even helped Mitch prepare his lunch, Cam suddenly feels like he is being replaced by Bridget in their relationship.

A few scenes later, we see the tables turned, as Mitch catches Cam and Bridget getting very personal. They both share some inside jokes and Cam even brings her flowers. Later Cam takes a selfie with Bridget and Mitch starts getting envious. They both have a small tiff over the third “person” in their relationship. They mutually decide to let go off Bridget for the sake of their relationship and unplug her. They are later shocked when Bridget is still able to overhear them and talks to them even though she has been unplugged. Bridget then reminds them that she is running on the power back up and appears to be upset with Mitch and Cam. Later, we see Bridget in Jay’s house, and the episode ends with Jay pouring his heart out to the new woman in their lives.

The episode reminded us of the elements from the movie ‘Her’, where the lead character Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) ends up falling in love with Samantha, an AI program. With AI taking over our lives, it might not be a stretch to say that falling in love with AI is a possibility. A fan wrote, “People cheating on their significant other with an AI is the future. #ModernFamily”.

Fans loved the inclusion of Bridget on the episode. A fan tweeted, “This refrigerator storyline is possibly the stupidest fucking thing ever… and i love it and I’m in #ModernFamily”. Another fan wrote, “LOL Mitchell singing a duet with a smart fridge is something I never thought I’d see. And I’m kinda wanting to try this turkey and apple sandwich now lol. Thanks Bridget? #ModernFamily”.