Voice. 6 Lessons Beyond the Hype. Lesson 2. Stop Talking and Start Building

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In this series Jeroen Thissen (Creative Director) and Erik Rave (Technology Director) from Creative Digital Agency CODE D’AZUR look back on three years of developing voice applications for the likes of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and LeasePlan. Each episode will highlight a new learning.

When dealing with innovation, there’s a universal truth about the future that is often perceived as a liability but is actually your greatest opportunity: no one really knows what’s coming.

Empirical research does agree on one thing: being the first to have a great new business model can bring huge profits, happier (returning) customers and positive brand perception. But at the same time, it can be difficult to move into the unknown. You pay the price of being first. Will voice technology be profitable any time soon? Perhaps. Will it reach a critical mass of people soon? More likely. Will it become your main channel of service within three years? Could well be. But we’re not sure.

So. How to develop for the unknown?

1. Be flexible

One thing you do know is that things will change. It is important to have a clear picture of the service you eventually wish to provide. How you get there may change many times. Not just because of your own organisation. Google’s changing and constantly updated API might affect your scope of work. When we were building the ‘Take Me There’ service for KLM (a travel inspiration action) we built a piece of functionality to be able to ask the user for a departure location. Suddenly, a Google update made it possible to read out the device location on approval. We could now determine a location automatically and did a lot of work for nothing.

So stay agile (to use another buzzword). Stay flexible in deliverables (backlog), stay flexible in budget and stay flexible in expectations (KPI’s).

2. Training

The real optimization starts when the Action is released. The key word is training, and this basically means that you get lots of people to use your service in a staging environment and track where DialogFlow misinterprets. When you say you want to book a flight and fly to ‘the Big Apple’ DialogFlow might not recognize this as New York. But you can allocate this point of interest to these words in this context manually. That’s how the system learns. This continues after release of your service and new misinterpretations might arise. Keep training!

3. Get started

When we know the only thing that really makes your service better is training, we understand the importance of getting started. Make sure you have a clear idea of the user’s needs you are trying to fulfill, define an MVP, create a backlog and get started. Do it.

In the next edition of this series we’ll explain why you should think beyond the service itself and start at your architecture.

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