Voice control was the stuff of science fiction throughout the 20th Century. But in the last two decades, voice control has entered the mainstream. Voice assistants like Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa are the main three players in the market and are embedded in-home devices, headphones, and even cars.
VUI broke the silence between humans and machines. The voice interface allows the device to respond to commands and questions by providing user interaction with a voice assistant.
There are many voice-control devices, for example, smartphones, smartwatches, and smart televisions. A voice recognition assistant has several advantages:
- Speed: dictating a message is much faster than typing it.
- Accessibility: Some people are unable to operate devices manually, but a VUI is accessible for the majority of users because it is based on speech.
- Ease: When you’re driving, cooking, or away from your device, a VUI allows you to keep your eyes and hands-free.
Identify the problem that you want to solve
Many companies in the tertiary sector are already well-equipped. Voice recognition is frequently used by design offices, law, or medicine. This sector is also a cutting-edge example of the capabilities of this new technology, enabling the processing of medical reports and more to be much faster.
The challenge for companies is, therefore, to integrate this type of equipment on a larger scale. Of course, human intervention is always essential to have an experienced eye and detect any error. On the other hand, the speed of execution of tasks is considerably improved. It is thus possible to focus more specifically on the heart of a business while saving time on the document production stages.
Other challenges are understanding context – much human communication involves gestures, eye contact and unspoken words – which is beyond the reach of voice recognition assistants such as Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa. Accents and local dialects also remain problematic, although slow enunciation can help with this aspect.
Developing your own voice assistant is certainly possible, even without coding experience.
Study and analyse the market
There is no doubt that Amazon and Google are the two main protagonists targeted by Europe. According to the ranking of voice assistants with the most impact in 2020 carried out by Voicebot.ai, the tools developed by these two companies are currently by far the most important on the market. It assessed the impact of voice assistants on the market according to the current extent of use and the future potential for adoption. If you wish to create your own app, analysing market trends and identifying a gap in the market is essential for success.
Voice search optimisation
As voice searches become increasingly more conversational, voice search optimisation is now more critical than ever to ensure your site appears on the first page of search engine results. Here are some key tips:
1. Use structured data
Structured data is, more than ever, an important SEO lever. And their usefulness is not limited to obtaining Rich Snippets to stand out in search results: use them to optimise your pages for voice search.
The objective: to describe as best as possible what the page contains and the subjects it addresses, and micro-data do this wonderfully.
2. Content that sounds “natural” when spoken
Voice search involves the use of oral language, sometimes very different from that used in writing. In other words, the closer the wording of your content is to a person’s natural speech, the more likely it is to correspond precisely to the question asked by the Internet user.
Nearly 70% of requests via Google Assistant are expressed in natural language. Unfortunately, these are not the typical keywords people use to search the Internet.
Imagine a person asking, “What is the longest river in the world?” to Google Assistant or Siri. Now let’s compare two correct answers, but worded differently:
“The Nile is the longest river in the world”
“The world’s longest river is the River Nile.”
The first answer is more direct and “natural” than the second, which would certainly favour its referencing for voice search.
3. Avoid “complicated” formats
Unsurprisingly, voice search isn’t fond of tables, graphs and visual formats. Choose simple formats, such as the question as a title and the answer in a short paragraph (just below).
This does not mean that simple “question-answer” pages are the future of natural referencing.
4. Don’t over-optimise
Don’t be tempted to over-optimise for voice search. Indeed, those who want to create long pages of a single paragraph aimed exclusively at voice queries are warned: Google does not see this very favourably. Pages with real added value and significant content of substance (not just in form!) will always be preferred.
Tools that can help you develop a quick skill
To set up a voice assistant, you must start by clearly defining the purpose of the application. No voice-activated application can answer everything, despite appearances. Whether it’s voice search in a music catalogue or a home automation function to control a device in your connected home by voice, you need a list of possible commands at each conversation stage. This is so you can clearly transcribe, in the successive exchanges, the expectations of the application in order to propose a conversational scheme centred on the goal. Ergonomics is then straightforward for the user.
You may wish to create a voice assistant app for children. While training voice models to successfully recognise inputs from younger users requires significantly more testing, for example, the current crop of tools used to develop these experiences are essentially the same for creating voice experiences for the general population. Those tools have matured greatly over the last five years, and there is no reason to think they won’t just keep getting better. That means you no longer have to be a specialist in developing voice user interfaces. However, if you’re passionate about building meaningful voice-assistant experiences for children, there are several tools and services you could get started with as soon as possible. Some of them are:
How to promote your Skill?
The only way to keep your Skill discoverable and in high rankings in the Alexa Skill Marketplace, besides having good reviews and high Skill enabling, is to promote it continuously.
In case you are wondering how to promote it after publishing your Alexa Skill, you can use:
- Social Media advertising.
- Highlighting it on your website
- Asking your contacts to try and use it.
- Adding it to your email signature.
These are some ways you can do it, with Social Media being the channel with high chances of positive results. You can use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, and TikTok. This task has become even easier with Amazon Alexa Quick Links.
How to adapt the skill to different assistants?
Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice-activated speakers are hugely popular with brands. Many of these have launched their “skills” (a term specific to the Amazon universe) or their “Actions” (the equivalent term at Google). That is an interactive voice program designed especially for these virtual assistants. A skill allows the user to enter into a conversation with the machine and ask a certain number of questions. In other words, the skill is to the world of voice assistants what the app is to the mobile world.
1. Take care of your data
In the web or mobile world, brands appear in search results and are chosen by the consumer from among the first ten occurrences of a list provided by search engines. In the conversational world, the voice assistant must give the correct answer immediately, at the right time; otherwise, the user does not return. So before any launch on connected speakers, a company needs to have quality data. Without rich and reliable data, you will miss the target.
2. Frame the conversation
Don’t be over-ambitious. What matters is to offer a consistent and fast path to the user. To succeed, you have to stay humble. Because, in reality, the most complicated aspect of realising a skill is precisely framing the conversation. Start small and simple, or risk drowning in overly complex conversational patterns.
3. Find your voice
It can be challenging – especially in marketing – to work without focusing on visual elements. In the conversational world, the challenge for brands lies in working on tone. These new modes of communication, based on voice only, fundamentally change the brand experience. On the other hand, it is advisable to play on the syntax, on the choice of words, the register (sustained or relaxed?), the effects, and on the style. Adding a wink at the end of an answer, a nice little phrase such as “Looking forward to seeing you again soon”, for example, is a plus”. It would even be an excellent way to retain users beyond the quality of the response. In short, anything that could create rapport is good.
Now is the time to get into the voice assistant sector. Companies are pouring billions into developing it and bringing voice recognition assistants into everybody’s homes and daily lives.
Choosing which voice recognition platform to use can be tricky, but based on what you intend to build, the right platform to use should be obvious. Plus you could always use a third-party tool to build on multiple platforms, particularly if your skill is less complicated without many moving parts.