What Happens After Launching an Alexa Skill and Google Action

A lot of planning goes into designing and building Alexa skills and Google Actions. And, there may be detailed plans about the launch and how to drive initial consumer interest. However, we have seen few people give much thought to what happens next. At XAPP, we believe that Launch is Day One of your voice app lifecycle. No matter how much effort is applied to design and development, the real action starts when your voice app is in the wild and users are interacting with your creation. This presents both a tremendous opportunity and a point of risk that many organizations overlook.

Learning from Your Users – UX Optimization

Every user experience designer will tell you that when it comes to voice apps, you must look at the logs of your user sessions. This sounds on the surface to be less exciting than designing and launching a new app, but it is both a necessity to ensure a great user experience and often provides a window into new features you can add to offer more value.

The reason you must review your session logs is that user behavior is unpredictable and voice apps are different than mobile or web apps. On mobile and the web, consumers can only try out features that you have defined. If there is no button or information, a user cannot try to force access to a new feature and get a failure response. Voice is different. A user can say anything or more specifically ask for anything that they want. And, the requests can be made with infinite variety as opposed to selecting a single button.

Reviewing your logs enables you to identify failure states for questions that you can answer but based on how the user speaks the request, your voice app could not interpret correctly. You can often make simple updates to eliminate these errors, but only if you do what we call user experience (UX) tuning and optimization. In addition, some of these user queries also indicate requests you did not contemplate handling in your design, but are good ideas for future addition. The logs can provide market feedback on what to do next. We recommend that all launch activities include 30-60 days of frequent log reviews to identify issues and then regular reviews on an ongoing basis while in production.

Addressing Common Issues – Monitoring and Support

In addition to log reviews, voice apps do generate session errors for many failure states and sometimes consumers actually contact you directly about an issue. This means every voice app should have tooling behind it to monitor voice app performance. Some examples of metrics you need to consider is uptime, in particular whether the voice app is live and the core runtime environment and content endpoints are functional, latency which impacts how long it takes for your voice app to respond to queries, and errors that end user sessions abruptly. At XAPP, we have a real-time monitoring dashboard that we use for proactive troubleshooting, to manage high availability service, and optimize performance.

There is also the need to respond to user questions. Alexa skills and Google Actions both offer users contact information for the voice app publisher in their store listings. You will get email addresses with issues, feature requests, and other questions and you need to have a process to respond and resolve issues.

Keeping Your Content Fresh – Maintenance and Updates

Post-launch you also have to consider how to handle repeat visitors. If you don’t have dynamic content built into your design, then you face the risk of your content becoming stale. We have seen voice apps that successfully induced consumer trial but after about 60-90 days showed a rapid decline in sessions because the app started losing repeat visitors. Content and feature updates are essential elements for your ongoing promotion for new users and also for retention.

We recommend voice app publishers plan to update their content and/or add new features every 2-3 months after launch. The best launch plans have the next two updates planned at the time of go live. That can carry your voice app through its first six months post-launch and continually appear fresh for both new and returning users.

Offering New Value – A Roadmap to New Features

Another reason to treat your voice app as an active project post-launch is that new feature ideas often arise once you have some user feedback. Some of that can be found in your session logs where users ask questions for features that you never contemplated or may have thought would be low priority. Other ideas will arise because your marketing teams will interact with your voice app and others and identify unique opportunities to extend the value you provide to users. If you are not actively managing your voice app with a plan for enhancement, then these ideas get lost in the shuffle.

Don’t Set it and Forget It. Make Voice an Asset.

Few marketers would in the words of Ron Popeil, “Set it and forget it,” when it came to their website or mobile app. However, many organizations are doing just that with voice apps. There are more than 66 million U.S. adults with smart speakers today, more than twice that many using voice assistants on mobile devices, and many millions more worldwide. Voice assistants now represent a channel with consumer reach. Brands, media organizations, and government agencies all have a strong rationale to build a robust and lasting voice presence today. That will only happen if your plan for success goes beyond a project that concludes with launch. 

In addition, voice app discovery is a tough problem. Once you persuade a user to try your voice app, it is imperative to deliver a high quality experience so they come back and maybe even leave you a positive review. Your concept and design are essential elements of voice app success, but so are your post-launch services such as UX error handling improvements, new feature additions, content updates, voice app performance monitoring, and support response. You should think about voice apps as either establishing or extending a long-term relationship with your customers. That relationship impact doesn’t materialize until your Alexa skill or Google Action is live. That is why everyone should view their voice app Launch as Day One.

To learn more about post-launch capabilities provided by XAPP, you can learn more below or fill out the form to speak directly with voice strategy expert :

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