The need to demonstrate in an easy, compelling and approachable manner, how voice assistants of the likes of the Amazon Echo, could in the future play a key role in the way Scottish Water's customers interact with the organisation.
An Alexa Skill was created to be able to respond to a series of simulated scenarios in which a customer would require information from the company and how this could be obtained without the need of making a phone call to customer service.
Some of the scenarios were:
Disruption in the water supply of a home
Works been carried in the area
Water quality check
I assessed the selected user flow, adapted for voice interaction and design and tested the voice interaction.
A selection of very specific use cases was required. We focused on finding the top 5 issues for which customers make the majority of phone calls to the contact centre. We also focused on understanding the top 5 areas that the Customer Service team was aiming to be reducing the amount of phone call in the near future, and how an Alexa Skill could be suitable for this.
After a few experiments and simulation to test the interactions, and applying the key principles for voice design, such as brevity, flexibility and error prevention were key to achieve the right balance between the question, the answer and the information is provided, and the conversation how to navigate possible follow-up questions with a very limited data-set.
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As with any other technology, acceptance of the technology will vary, and it is a matter of finding the right use case, in order to increase the chances of adoption.
Although voice technology is set to be rapidly growing, there still a series of challenges to be overcome, and we found out through our demonstrations, that despite a lot of the participants been Alexa owners, very few knew they could install additional 'apps' to perform additional tasks.
Moreover, there was also a group of users that found it irrelevant to them, or even sceptical, meaning that when rolled out to the general public, continues feedback needs to be gathered in order to improve accordingly; something that historically has always represented a challenge to the organisation.