By Rich Merrett / May 30, 2023 / News

Rich Merrett, Creative Strategist at Vixen Labs, takes us through five features and updates that will breathe new life into your existing voice application.

Voice technology has become an essential part of many people’s daily lives; with smart speakers and voice assistants becoming commonplace not just at home, but also in the workplace (VCI 2022) – something smart brands haven’t overlooked

Like building a website, creating a voice application is not a one-time task. Once carefully crafted to meet the needs of your customer base, it is critical to keep it up-to-date to remain useful, engaging and continue to build trust in your brand.

Conversational AI is advancing at a rapid rate. With the release of Open AI’s GPT-4, alongside the growing use of Large Language Models (LLMs) – the velocity of change over the last four months has been staggering. But, don’t be fooled into thinking voice assistants are being deserted – in truth, it’s the opposite. New features are coming to market that will enhance voice experiences and boost meaningful interactions with consumers. However, if ignored, might undermine brand trust when customers encounter an out-of-date or defunct voice application. 

Rich Merrett takes us through five features and updates that will breathe new life into your voice application.

Increase consumer engagement in your Voice Skill

Everyone has a daily routine; from how you brew your morning coffee, to the order in which you eat your vegetables – and being part of a user’s routine is something that every business strives for. 

Alexa Routines is an in-built Alexa feature that allows users to group a bunch of actions into one request. For example, saying ‘good morning’ could turn on your bedroom lights, switch on the radio, and set your heating to a comfortable temperature. 

Now, with the newly released Alexa Routines Kit, your brand can become part of your customers’ daily habits too. Luxury vehicle brand, Landrover, has successfully integrated into a nighttime routine for owners. Say ‘goodnight’ and Alexa will make sure the car is locked, remind customers about the charge level or fuel level, and then also turn on Guardian mode. Creative use-cases like this show the possibilities are endless for easing customers’ daily lives.

Take this a step further with another new feature: Quick Links. Quick links enable people to open a skill or routine through a direct link. So, from your brand app, website, email, or social media, customers can instantly launch your skill or routine. 

With these two features, the benefits can’t be overlooked. Amazon reports consumer retention rates of those using a skill within a routine are eight times higher when compared to customers who don’t use a skill in a routine.

Goodbye, Google Actions

In the summer of 2022, Google announced they are sunsetting Google Actions. When developing a voice application, many companies chose to deploy both an Amazon Alexa Skill and Google Action, while some opted for just one or the other. Companies who opted for Google Actions will have already seen their analytics shutting down, and from 13 June 2023, all Google Actions will cease to function. 

What’s the solution for brands with Google Action?

Firstly, you could convert your Google Action into a Google App Action, and your Google Action will live on with the Android Mobile app – a smart move for many brands with an existing app. If that’s you, look at how to include your Google Action within it. And if you don’t have an app, we can work with you to create an app element for your Google Action to improve the functionality.

Secondly, if you want to remain in the smart speaker, voice-first domain, then it’s time to convert your Google Action to an Alexa Skill. You could consider adding some of the features listed in the rest of this article to give your skill an extra flourish. 

We’re experts at both of these two options, and could help you build something incredible.

Create an immersive experience with multimodal integration

Smart displays are increasing in popularity – and it’s no wonder why. Devices such as Amazon Alexa Show and the availability of Amazon Alexa skills on Amazon Fire TV are exciting consumers with a combination of their voice, touch, and visual interfaces. Recently, the capability of these devices has leaped forward, and now visuals can be as rich as those on your website. Future-focused brands must consider ways to upgrade their voice-only skills for multimodal devices. 

For the travel company, Contiki, grasping the opportunity to bring a visual experience to their existing voice skill was an obvious choice. With the help of Vixen Labs, the outcome was a convenient voice-enabled packing assistant for travellers to Colombia, set against an immersive audio and visual experience of the sights and sounds of the South American country. 

An exciting visual element is the perfect way to engage audiences and bring to life a voice experience.

Account Links for smoother customer experience

When brands first started to create Alexa Skills, few opted in for account linking –a process connecting their customer’s existing brand accounts to their Amazon Alexa account. The process was cumbersome and required users to login with the Amazon Alexa app on their smartphones. As of 2022, this is no longer a requirement. Users can now use ‘Voice Forward Account Linking’ which enables them to link their accounts together via their voice.

So, if you held back from using this feature in your original skill build, or you need to update your skill, it’s a worthwhile update to make for a smoother customer experience.

Get heard with notifications

With mobile apps, built-in notifications are commonplace, but not with voice applications and, more specifically, Alexa Skills. However, these have become a sought-after feature skill owners are employing to interact with their customers. 

Notifications from smartphones are known to be intrusive and tiresome, but not so with notifications from an Alexa skill. A chime and a soft yellow light notify the customer there is something to be heard, with the light remaining on until the customer asks “What’s my notification” at a time convenient for them. This is an opportunity to Improve your chance of being heard.

Let’s talk

Does the skill or action you created need an update to match the pioneering spirit that was there when it was initially created? Drop us a line and let’s talk.



House 337 acquires Vixen Labs

By Vixen Labs / December 18, 2023

Creative collective House 337 has acquired conversational AI agency Vixen Labs as part of a strategic initiative to bolster its expertise in artificial intelligence and broaden its customer experience offer.

Read more