Voice Content and the Voice User Experience
In our experience developing voice applications, for customers who have had a strong web presence, we often spend a lot of time discussing how voice content is different than web content and how the voice user experience (VUI) is different than a web graphical user experience (GUI). Voice applications are not just an audio version of your existing web pages, voice applications are a new unique communication channel for your clients, with a unique form of content, and a unique way of interacting with technology.
Web content can often contain a few hundred words and be several paragraphs long. The content developed for the web is far too long for voice applications. Somewhere in your web page are the facts, the main point of the page. It may be in the first paragraph, the last or somewhere in between. It does not matter what writing style you used for your web content, unfortunately, you can’t just take it, and put it in a voice app. Voice content needs to be brief, concise and to the point.
The facts ma’am, just the facts.
Information that your clients want, should be accessible quickly, easily, without any hurdles. Almost every organization is sitting on a mountain of content, or “facts” that they can present to their customers or clients via voice in a quick and easy to access format via voice applications. No more searching, no more navigating through menus, just direct access to the answer to a question.
Is there a dress code for detectives?
However, this sometimes leads to a voice user experiences that contain “one-shot” answers. They are short, and to the point, but they sometimes feel robotic, and are not engaging. They wind up sounding a lot like a voice version of an frequently asked questions page or a poorly designed IVR. While that may be a place to start, it does not provide a good voice user experience.
There's a dress code for detectives in Robbery-Homicide. Section 3-605. 10. 20. 22. 24. 26. 50. 70. 80. It specifies: clean shirt, short hair, tie, pressed trousers, sports jacket or suit, and leather shoes, preferably with a high shine on them.
A good voice user interface (VUI) is very similar to a good conversation with a friend. We have to stop programming solutions, and start writing good conversations or scripts. The “potential” of voice solutions is that you can build “conversational content”, and with it, you can discover the true job to be done, or the intent behind your customer’s initial question.
Was knowing the dress code the true intent of the question or was it something else? Well written voice interfaces follow up with the additional questions after the facts, that ultimately lead to additional engagement. For example:
Do you need me to add any of these items to your shopping list?
If you asked a friend if there was a “dress code for robbery detectives” they would follow up with a question, such as “Why do you ask?” In human conversation we have the ability to ask open-ended questions, however, the state of conversational technology is not quite that sophisticated yet, so we need to be a little more leading based on the context of our skill. A good voice user interface takes that into mind. A web page about the code of conduct for robbery detectives can’t do that. The ability to add clothes to a shopping list may be out of scope or context for a robbery detective skill, so a better follow up question for that scenario might be:
Has there been a violation of the dress code, would you like to file a report?
Therefore, when you are building content for voice keep these tips in mind:
Do not copy and paste web content into your voice interfaces
Make voice content, clear concise and to the point
Follow up your content with a question to create a conversation