This is the era of voice experience. People of all ages are fascinated with voice features and assistants like the Echo, Alexa, Ecobee and Spot that can do everything from answer general questions to wake you up or even give you the balance of your checking account. The popularity of voice capabilities makes sense, too. It’s easy. Talking is so natural. We have conversations all day, every day, plus we talk faster than we type.

As a Product Owner, how do you decide what exactly to enable as part of a branded voice experience? Well, for some businesses the answer is obvious. If you’re Uber, you focus on all the ways a customer might ask for a ride. If you represent a pizza brand, you start with how to order a pie.

If it’s not obvious to you, try to prioritize features with voice-enablement for the most common interaction with a brand. Look at call center data and IVR menu options. Which common tasks do customers access most? Which tasks are the most costly to the business? Armed with those answers, reach out to design teams. To encourage success, give your design teams guidance, data and prep-time to explore journeys for different candidate tasks. Allow plenty of time to create story artifacts for the top voice features because designing a voice user interface(VUI) is really different from designing a graphical user interface (GUI). Here are just a few best practice guidelines to follow.

Guidelines for voice user interface design

  1. Start with one, simple goal
  2. Keep the scope small initially
  3. Choose voice platform and languages
  4. Decide which use cases to support
    1. Far-field
    2. Hands-free
    3. Tap-to-talk
    4. Push-to-talk
  5. Find your voice (unique and memorable wake words)
  6. Choose which skill to build and trigger phrase(s)
  7. Design for your target audiences’ verbal comfort
    1. Role play the conversation
    2. Write script variations
    3. Test the scripts with real humans
  8. Write your scripts
  9. Adhere to good interaction design principles
    1. Address plurality,homonyms, synonyms
    2. Dialogue management (dealing with missing or extras)
    3. Context and Intent
    4. Presentation of responses(volume and actions)
    5. Entity resolution
  10. Launch skills
  11. Create campaigns to encourage people to rate skills

If you are looking to build voice capabilities into a brand experience and need support, contact Object Edge or Sarah Falcon directly at

About the Author

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Sarah Falcon

VP, Marketing Global

Sarah is a nimble and creative marketing leader with 15 years of experience in a mix of agencies, B2B, and B2C enterprises. She brings a background in building and driving impactful marketing practices and processes for growing businesses. Sarah has expertise in brand, content marketing, lead generation, and marketing operations. She’s a co-author of the 2019 book on B2B eCommerce Digital Branch Secrets: eCommerce Playbook for Distributors.

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