Even before the event got underway, participants were buzzing about all the possibilities. “I missed the first Open Voice,” one participant said, “but a colleague told me about this event, and I knew I had to join.” Dutch broadcasters, Voice Interface Design students, airline representatives, and heavy hitters like Bol.com and Google shared that sentiment – all were in attendance and eager to get started.
Another participant shared his enthusiasm: “once I saw the line-up for today’s event, there was no way I was going to miss it.” And what a line-up it was: the speakers for the second event certainly raised the bar.
Digital guru and co-founder of Open Voice Maarten Lens-FitzGerald started things off by explaining the common objective: “We want to connect around voice and the new conversational channel,” he said. “Our goal is to explore and share, and maybe even start some projects that help move the needle.”
Taking Off with Transavia
The first speaker was Vanja Mlaco, coach of the digital team at Transavia. Vanja’s key message was change. “We use innovation to accomplish change,” he said. “But why do we need change? Because our customers’ needs and our business opportunities are constantly changing, and we must keep up.”
Vanja explained that the key to relevant voice services was getting close to customers. “When Transavia wants to develop our digital systems – our app, our mobile site or our voice interfaces – we visit customers at home, at work, or at the airport gate. We ask them what they need, and we respond. It’s no longer about doing what we think we need – it’s about doing what our customers want.”
Vanja’s advice for getting started with voice? Know why you’re getting started. “Think about your goals, and how voice can contribute to that,” he said. “You should never start developing voice because it’s a cool new technology. You should aim to solve a core customer desire. Small changes can have a big impact. Connect with your customers to find out what they really need – never assume you know.”
Do you want to learn more about the Transavia Voice Assistant?
Read the case
Finding the key questionMaarten stepped up next to talk about the State of Voice, and started by giving updated figures on the number of voice devices and users throughout the world. “We also see a growing number of events centered around the next big development,” he said, citing Mozilla’s Common Voice project and Google Duplex as two examples of aimed at making voice interaction more natural and widespread.
Next, Maarten described the three key reasons for the urgency of voice:
1. Don’t miss out: companies see voice technology as a short-term PR opportunity with a long-term view on channel integration.
2. The Fulcrum: voice is seen as the tipping point for customer centricity, allowing companies to grow loyalty and intimacy with their customers.
3. Opportunity: at the moment, voice is seen as a blue ocean of opportunity, and voice commerce in particular as a key channel for future financial growth.
“Creating voice services is 90% design, and 10% technology”, Maarten explained. “The key is to develop your service around the key question your customers are asking. Finding that key question might take some time. But once you find it, you can build a service that your customers love.”
Creating voice services is 90% design, and 10% technologyMaarten Lens-FitzGerald
Creating conversational experiencesWhen Murat Ozmerd took to the stage, the rubber really hit the road. Murat is co-founder of Flow.ai, a Dutch start-up that helps companies design and deploy conversational interfaces. Murat explained the key roles in the development process, and explained how voice interface is really not that different from other communication channels. “In the end, it’s all about ensuring a continuous conversation with customers,” he said.
Murat then offered a live demo to walk participants through the system Flow.ai uses to develop for voice. With an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface, Murat developed the foundation for a new skill in just a few seconds with a few clicks. “You no longer need to develop for one platform either,” he explained. “Our system will adapt to its platform – whether Google Home or Assist, Facebook Messenger or Amazon Alexa.”
Finding your sound
After refilling on snacks and drinks, attendees settled back in to hear from Michiel Cremers, owner and founder of House of Music Ltd. The company helps businesses develop and exploit their sonic brand – the audio cues that represent the brand and what it stands for. “Sonic branding is similar to a company’s visual identity,” he said. Michiel tested the audience with tunes and tones that they automatically connected to popular brands like McDonald’s, Nespresso, Netflix and Samsung.
Michiel explained that a company’s sonic expressions must work on three levels: they serve a specific function, create a fitting experience, and act as a unique brand identifier. “A good sonic brand allows people to recognize your brand with their eyes closed,” he said. As an example, he walked us through the steps it took to develop a sonic identity for KLM.
Michiel concluded with some advice: “don’t start executing too quickly. Developing your company’s unique sound requires you to dive deeply into your brand, and think deeper and harder about who you are and where you want to be. That includes your unique hooks and stories and the values that set you apart.”
A word from the leaderThe last speaker of the day certainly was worth the wait. Max Amordeluso, Lead Evangelist at Amazon Alexa, shared his experience with what he called “the most innovative product I’ve ever worked with in my career.” Max offered insight and advice for the right time – and the right people – to help shape the voice revolution. “Voice is here to stay,” he said, “and it will be as big as the web or mobile. But there’s still a lot to do. And it’s important to remember that voice may be perfect for some things, but it’s not the answer to everything.”
Max emphasized the importance of utilizing voice in the right ways. “The decision to use voice shouldn’t be taken lightly,” he explained. “You should only choose voice when it makes customer interaction easier, faster or more natural. Don’t build a skill just because you can. Build one that actually adds real value for your customers.”
Then Max ventured into one of the key topics participants asked about at the first Open Voice: monetization. How does one make voice interface a money-making endeavor? Max discussed a variety of avenues that could lead to financial gains. He started by naming the Alexa Developer Awards and AWS Credits, both of which offer financial awards to innovative voice designs. Later in 2018, developers will gain access to a Skills Monetization program. But Amazon is also working on In-Skill Purchasing (similar to offering a paid, premium version of an app), and plans to connect Amazon Pay to Alexa to allow for voice commerce.
Max fielded questions from the audience about everything from competition to arbitration to commercial advertising. While careful not to give away any secrets about Amazon’s next steps, Max encouraged all attendees to explore, ask questions, and dig deeper into the world of voice.
Stay tunedInterested in attending Open Voice #03? Stay tuned to the new website: www.openvoice.nl and sign up for the newsletter to get all the latest information on voice. After a brief summer break, the team looks forward to more inspiring and exciting events to help connect us all to the emerging world of voice.
Watch the aftermovie:
About Open Voice
Mirabeau, Maarten Lens-FitzGerald and Sam Warnaars (aFrogleap) are founders of Open Voice: a series of interactive meetups in which we will explore the possibilities of the new channel of voice.
Together we enable others to share best practices and learnings, show how voice and conversations fit into the customer journey and connect the people in the emerging voice industry.
Read the recap of the first edition of Open Voice here.
Do you want to learn more about Open Voice? Get in touch with Hayo Rubingh.