Amazon’s Alexa is a popular piece of technology in the homes of many North Americans. Today, 16% of all Americans own a smart speaker, with 11% preferring the Amazon Alexa, but do you know how to incorporate Alexa skill development into your business?
While there is a current spotlight on all the cool things that an Alexa can do in your home (set a timer, pick a song, settle an argument with your spouse), there are also exciting things Alexa can do for your start-up.
How to Use Alexa for Business
Alexa is also helping businesses, particularly startups, to enhance their daily operations, collect early feedback, and deliver next-level customer service. Before we look at how an Amazon Alexa Skill could help your potential customers, let’s look at two main ways you can use this tool in your day-to-day operations.
- As a Shared Device
In the office as a shared device, Alexa can be used to save time by doing the following:
- Begin conferences through audio commands by making use of a meeting room assistant
- Ask for directions to your next pitch
- Report a tech problem for one of your new tools or platforms
- Order new equipment
- Control your work environment without getting up from your desk (turn on lights, etc.)
- Report issues to your own internal IT department
- As a Virtual Personal Assistant
In the office as a personal assistant, Alexa can be used to do the following:
- Search for information or files
- Manage to-do lists and set reminders
- Link corporate calendars to Alexa for Business, integrating with Office 365, Microsoft Exchange, and Google G-Suite calendars.
How to Use Alexa Skill Development to Drive Your Start-up Forward
Alexa Skills are like smartphone apps. They are created by developers from third-party companies. Some skills work entirely on their own, while others use Alexa to interact with something else, such as an online service like Spotify, or a smart home product like a Roomba vacuum.
Perfect for startups, Amazon has made it easy to create your own Alexa skill. The system, which is called Alexa Blueprints, gives users the chance to build an Alexa skill without understanding the behind-the-scenes coding. By the end of 2018, there were over 70,000 skills available from the Alexa Skills Store and other third-party developers.
Of more importance to start-ups, smart assistants are making inroads through voice search. In fact, by the end of 2020, it is expected that voice searches will make up 50% of all digital searches.
In 2018, 46% of consumers used smart voice assistants daily. Voice search is easy-to-use and effective. Alexa is a leader in smart assistants both in homes and businesses, so planning on how your start-up will use one as part of its strategy is key. This strategy can be to assist in the technology you are developing or to be first-to-market in voice search results when it comes to advertising for your product or service.
Alexa Skill development can introduce any of these skills to your startup:
- Email management
- Website monitoring
- Managing schedules
- Making calls easily
- Finding services
- Managing invoices
- Providing reminders
- Tracking packages
- Keeping track of business travel
- Editing documents
- Staying in touch with your team
- Tracking your time
- Managing HR
- Tracking your fleet
- Calculating business taxes
- Sending SMS texts
Let’s say your start-up is an e-commerce brand. Consider what questions your customers might like to ask Alexa about their order. Things like:
- Hey Alexa, when will my TechCompany order arrive?
- Hey Alexa, do these TechCompany blueberry shoes come in another colour?
- Hey Alexa, order me more TechCompany refills.
The last possible question also presents some interesting opportunities for marketing innovation in your startup. Building brand is going to be very important, because on top of the Alexa Skill development you invest in for current customers, you need to think about how you will acquire new customers through voice search.
READ MORE: Internal Chatbots Can Help Employees
You will want customers to ask for your specific solution, because otherwise Alexa will provide the top-paying brand with the sale. Consider what happens when you ask Alexa to buy you more toothpaste. You didn’t specify the brand, so Alexa will send you toothpaste from the highest bidder. But, if instead you were clever in your marketing efforts on other channels and promoted your brand and its Alexa skill, you could have people asking:
- Hey Alexa, order me more ABC toothpaste
- Hey Alexa, what’s the best brand of toothpaste for sensitive teeth?
- Hey Alexa, what’s the best tasting vegan toothpaste?
Really consider your audience and create a Skill with answers on your specific brand that can provide value to your potential customers, and then work on having your brand work for you, in order for people to ask for your product or service by name.
Alexa Skills development not only frees you up to get to work on the really important tasks in your business, but by developing Skills for your customers and marketing efforts, you’ll be setting yourself leaps and bounds ahead of your competition.
The Future of Alexa Skill Development Looks Bright
If the list of all the different Alexa Skills your start-up can use hasn’t convinced you yet, take a look at some of the things in development for this technology:
- Move meetings for you: In the future, Alexa may be able to move meetings on a user’s behalf if there is a potential conflict. Alexa will be able to determine which task or meeting is the most important.
- Actually enjoy your commute: Soon you will have features added to your new vehicle to use Alexa while you are driving. If you are stuck in traffic, Alexa can let your colleagues know you are late and also reschedule any meetings automatically.
Just think how many other things will become automated on Alexa in the near future. Start to project a few years into the future and think about the value-added Skills you can create for your internal and external facing efforts.
Have you thought about integrating Alexa Skill development into your start-up? Consider the benefits you can offer your customers who are already familiar with Alexa and add it to your suite of value-added features.