In October, I commented on voice recognition in Connected Cars and an AAA Foundation study concerned with distracted driving. Last week, the Wall Street Journal had a different take on the situation. It wasn’t about safety issues with voice commands in the Connected Car – it was about consumer complaints.
“The Hassle of Hands Free Car Tech”
The article cites a J.D. Power study indicating that in-car voice recognition systems are the top source of consumer complaints for 2014 models. We can set aside the wisdom of car manufacturers’ determination to take on technology innovation. Voice interactivity is a tough problem for everyone. Most of us are familiar with complaints about Siri, Android Voice Recognition and other voice solutions. Speech technologies in cars and on smartphones are often trying to do too much and user experience is the victim.
“Brilliantly Simple” Voice Interactivity
XAPPmedia also employs voice interactivity, but is succeeding where other efforts have come up short. Why? Simplicity. There are two elements at work here. First, XAPP always tells the consumer what to say if they would like to interact. After the content plays, a common XAPP action phrase might be, “…to get it now just say, ‘Download App.’” If the consumer wants the app, she knows exactly what to say. She doesn’t need to guess the right phrase or grammar. The power of suggestion is also at work here. XAPP puts the words on the tip of the consumer’s tongue
Second, XAPP doesn’t need to interpret meaning. If the user’s response matches the action phrase, the action is executed. If there is no match, the listener gets right back to the audio content. The XAPP experience enables users to be successful in their first interaction because it’s simple and reliable . The data bears this out: 58% of consumer responses to XAPPs [Interactive Audio Ads, Content Discoveries, and User Controls] occur on the first impression.
Our view is that technology is most powerful when it is unnoticed, but still does the job. A few months ago, one organization that tested XAPP with users in a real-world setting commented that users didn’t notice that XAPPs were different. In effect, XAPPs blended in with the core listening experience. Some users commented that the use of XAPPs to discover new content was a cool feature.
We have heard a lot of compliments about the product since launching in March and I thought this was probably as good as it gets – until last Tuesday. We were discussing our user experience with a leading audio app publisher and she said XAPP is “brilliantly simple.” Wow! Hard work does pay off.
Making it Simple is Hard, but Essential
Having spent two years refining our voice user experience, we have tremendous respect for any company that takes on this task. It is tough. Everyone knows you have to deal with different accents and speaking styles, but that is just the beginning.
When you work in mobile you also have an infinite variety of background noises that require sophisticated filtering. It’s not just about what is said, but discerning that from other noise in the user’s environment and only matching positive responses. And, you must account for different microphones and Bluetooth devices, all of which can change how you must handle and interpret what the user said. Simplifying the user experience was essential to success.
Beyond User Experience, Delivering Effectiveness
However, we knew that a simple and reliable user experience was just the beginning. To change the way publishers and advertisers look at interactive audio services we wanted to deliver a new level of effectiveness and measurable accountability.
Voice interactivity reduces friction between a content or brand offer and mobile consumer engagement. The conversion rate for advertisers and publishers using the XAPP format to date is trending several times higher than other digital engagement formats. The results are also fully measurable unlike traditional radio ads. The simple and reliable user experience makes this possible. Effectiveness and measurability make XAPPs desirable to artists, advertisers and publishers alike.