Tuesday, March 25, 2008

21 Quick Fixes to Improve Your Voice Application

Tips for voice UI ...

"I recently got a link from Amy Quinn pointing out an article entitled “101 Five-Minute Fixes to Incrementally Improve Your Web Site” provided by InsideCRM, and though it might be helpful to go over some of those points in the list and hence suggest “21 Quick Fixes” (granted they might take a little more than 5 minutes) that can be adapted and applied to Voice User Interfaces and Voice Applications:


1. Tell callers why they should perform a task. “People are trained to follow a request, as long as you give them a good reason to do it”. Therefore, put yourself in your caller’s shoes (or ears), and make sure you’re not only offering something of value to them, but that you’re clear in why they should go through it (e.g. shorter wait times, 24×7 availability, etc.)

2. Make the most highly trafficked menus easier to listen to. If your system contains menus that are too long and you can’t reduce the number of choices, think about grouping some of them or break the menu up so it’s easier to process in short term memory.

3. Make choices meaningful. Be sure to change any vague or cutesy menu options to something more up-front, meaningful, that callers can understand (no jargon please)

4. Stay consistent. Check your prompts and terminology for consistency, or else the experience will seem unstable, unprofessional or patchy.

5. Stay simple. You just can’t beat that. Granted some processes are complex by nature, that doesn’t mean they need to be complicated. Strive for clarity!

6. Avoid making hollow promises. Including those callers are taken for granted nowadays, such as pressing 0 and expecting to talk to an agent.

7. Be concise. ‘Nuff said.

8. Go with what works. And if you don’t know what works, ask your users – that’s why Usability was invented for in the first place!


9. Make navigation consistent. Listen to your users, understand how they think and what steps they need to follow to complete a task, and then stick to that flow.

10. Never ask for more information than you need. Related to #1, this includes only requesting relevant information at appropriate times (why ask for the last 4 of the SSN when all you want is the hours of operation?). “When you get greedy for data, you’ll turn off some visitors”.

11. Add a search box. Or in the case of VUI design, think about adding a SpeakFreely/SayAnything-type of implementation where callers can say what it is they need right at the beginning of the call.

12. Use plenty of contrast. In our case, we’re looking for ’sound contrast’. You’ll need to make sure you coach the voice talent properly so as to not only get a good sounding application but also intonations that convey the right message and elicit the right responses.

13. Test it on real users. Oh, if we could just make this a law…"    (Continued via Voice User Interface Design VUI)    [Usability Resources]

21 Fixes - Usability, User Interface Design

21 Fixes


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