Voice Assistants can (and will) replace your website form

Voice assistant apps can go way beyond the quizzes and trivia games.
Being assistive by their nature, they can really help your customers achieve their goals in a fashion much closer to human conversation rather than soulless checkbox-select-type chore we got used to since the birth of websites.

To understand the capabilities of voice assistant apps take a look at this video presenting one of my projects called Hotel Finder. This example runs on Google Assistant which is natively available on all android phones (that’s in a region of 2 billion users).

User Experience

Note that during making this video I actually used a keyboard, not voice (it was late and I didn’t want to wake anyone up) Hotel Finder was designed to work across all media — smart speakers, phones, cars… even smart fridges!

Back to the demo… I launch Google Assistant and ask to talk to Hotel Finder.

The conversational UI of the app takes me through a typical set of questions you’d expect to hear when looking for any travel accommodation. When things are not clear for the app, extra questions are asked (in this instance to clarify location of the city).

After collecting the data, the app needs a bit of time to run the query with API (in Hotel Finder’s case it’s TravelPayouts), so in the meantime it continues the conversation and keeps me engaged while I’m waiting.

The results came back quickly this time, but sometimes the conversation lasts longer — and in extreme situations the app gives up and offers to send an email notification instead when the search results are ready.

All accommodation findings are analysed automatically, and ordered using popularity, price and other features available through the API. The best available option comes first with Hotel Finder recommendation.

The app offers to send all results in email (which sounded great as I was only doing a preliminary research) and a second later it lands in my inbox where I can see the pictures and finally book.

Interaction with voice assistant apps removes a lot of friction and even more hassle in completing user’s tasks.

If you think about all these scenarios when touch interaction with the phone screen is not possible or simply inconvenient (driving a car, old age of customers, disabilities etc) you’ll notice that there’s a whole new spectrum of people who now can easily interact with your product or service and become a loyal customer.

I can imagine this kind of model of a voice app being used by hotels, airlines, recommendation search engines, dentist practices, restaurants and any other business where customer experience is best when served by a human- but the cost of a 24/7 call centre or even a reception is just not feasible.

We’ve been using website forms for far too long. We got used to filling the boxes, paying attention to correctly spelled email addresses, military-grade passwords… and even captchas. Ah yeah… and ticking at least 3 boxes to agree to something you’d never read.

I think that voice assistants offer very interesting alternative.

Give the Hotel Finder a go on Google Assistant or Alexa and explore it’s capabilities. If it sparks an idea for a voice app for your customers I’m more than happy to discuss how it can become a reality.

P.S. I’ve built more voice apps! Check them out on my website: https://veeheister.com/

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