Voice technology in Danish has taken some years. We have looked enviously at the English-speaking businesses that have many good platforms to choose between and therefore have plunged quicker into cool voice solutions. In Denmark, a large part of businesses gradually has chatbots. So, as the voice technology is ready in Danish, it is a very good idea to make a "voiceification" of your chatbot. Because it is obvious and technically "easy", you can easily overlook the things that should be changed, if you do not want to go from a cool chatbot to a half-dead voice bot.
What I mean by "half-dead" is the fact that the voice bot users have difficulty listening to - for example because of too long monologues or monotonous listings - the consequence is that all information is lost. If the information is lost, the voice bot does not live up to its purpose to help quickly 27/4. We must therefore secure that the users listen, understand, and remembers what the voice bots are saying.
So, here comes the seven most important rules of thumb if you want to get started with voice technology.
1. From writing to speech
Most often, I recommend that chatbots have a language that resembles spoken language rather than written language. This recommendation is because that spoken language is shorter and easier to read in the graphic and visual little window, where the chatbot usually "lives". It is a prerequisite for chatbots to keep it brief. A user can't listen to a longer monologue in a voice bot without ending in cognitive overload. If your responses take 20-30 seconds for the voice bot, you should split the dialogue into smaller parts with more shifts between user and bot.
You also should remove bullets, emojis, GIFs, pictures, links, and buttons. These are everything that I normally used to recommend to secure that the chatbot is easy to decode, has personality, and can communicate simply and easily in writing. In a speech, contrarily, we have the voice and the words to cooperate instead.
2. Short, shorter, shortest
There are also other elements we should remove from the language of the chatbot if it should be a well-spoken voice bot. This for example applies to hyphens in listings (Wich we use in Danish, not in English): "I can help you with vacation-, illness-, and overtime registration". Reformulate so it is clearer that you are talking about three different things: "I can help you with registering vacation, illness, and work overtime". The latter is moreover better to implement in a chatbot because it is easier to read and understand. Nonetheless, many authorities write like the first example above.
3. The voice bot's personality
Occasionally, I meet businesses that believe it is significant the way a voice bot talks. One might think so. Just like it does not matter how the employees who work in customer service talk. If you have called customer service just once, then I think you will agree with me on the fact that how an employee talks to you is very relevant - just like with voice bots.
Personality is difficult to get settled in the voice bot's vocabulary - it becomes too long and feels ineffective for the user. It is therefore critical that you remove superfluous words and instead move the bot's personality to the voice and the choice of voice. SSML is used to adjust and customise the voice (like HTML, just for voices). With SSML you can adjust the pace of the voice, pitch, pronunciation, and so forth. In this way, you get your voice to sound efficient, serious, patient, and willing to help.
Those of us who do not normally work with voices as a subject area may find it difficult to assess the things that need to be adjusted so a digital voice, objectively, will signal what it needs. This is why we, at KPMG, have initiated a collaboration with the business Ministry of Music that works with performance training and voices – to ensure that the digital voices we create, get the expression and look that we want, regardless of if it is to sound friendly, trustworthy or funny - or anything else you need for your brand to signal.
4. Create progress in the conversation
Just like we need two people to create a good conversation at a dinner party, I use to say that we also have a common responsibility for the conversation to move forward when we talk with bots. This means that the voice bot must take some of the responsibility so the recipient knows what the next turn should be about. In writing, we often have buttons that help the recipient along the way, but in a voice bot, it must be clear without any visual help.
There are many places where you will read that voice bots have to end their answers with a question. It is a good technique, but it is extremely humdrum and tiring to be the recipient. It feels more like a cross-questioning than an actual conversation. Therefore, it is all about being thorough, when you create your choice of answers - what kind of input would the recipient think to ask in different situations? If the voice bot is handled well, it can detect the different outcomes. To get the full picture of the outcome, the voice bot will demand more user tests than the chatbot.