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Be natural

Customers should be able to converse naturally with your skill, using their own words to direct the conversation. Alexa should respond in a way that sounds as close to a conversation you would have with another person as possible without overwhelming the customer with too many terms, especially technical terms. Alexa is not an IVR phone system that needs to specify “say 1 for option 1”; and does not require the customer to use “magic words” to reach a desired response.


Checklist for creating more natural conversations:

▢  Ask a leading question so the customer knows that it's their turn to speak, and what information the skill needs next

▢  Don’t ask multiple questions in the same prompt

▢  Don’t tell the customer explicitly what to say

▢  Don’t tell the customer how to use global controls (“help,” “repeat,” or “exit”)

▢  Support a wide range of utterances a customer can use to tell the skill what they want

▢  Listen to the prompts in the skill read in Alexa's voice (or another Amazon Polly voice) to ensure that they don't sound unintentionally awkward or confusing


Turn-taking is an important part of a natural conversation. Prompts guide the customer through the conversation by asking questions and opening the mic for a response. Ask direct questions and present only relevant, plainly-stated options. People also tend to answer questions immediately when asked, so avoid asking rhetorical questions or putting questions in the middle of your dialog to avoid errors.

Recall the conversation above where our customer checked their credit card balance and paid their bill. Read the following conversation design that is much less natural:


Customer: Alexa, ask MyCapital to check my balance.

Alexa: Welcome to My Capital. Want to check your balance? To check your balance, say “balance.” To pay your bill, say “pay bill.” Or, you can say “help.”

Customer: I want to do both.

Alexa: I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that. I can help you check your balance and pay your bill. To check your balance, say “balance.” To pay your bill, say “pay bill.”

Customer: Balance.

Alexa: Your MyCapital balance is $479.98. To pay your bill, say “pay bill.”

Customer: Pay my bill please.

Alexa: I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that. To pay your bill, say “pay bill.”

Customer: Pay bill.

Alexa: Your payment of $25.50 is due in 5 days, on December 8. Want to pay it? Say “yes” to pay, or “no” to go back.

Customer: Yes.

Alexa: For security, please state your four-digit passcode.

Customer: 1-2-3-4

Alexa: Your payment has been received and recorded. Please allow up to three business days to reflect on your MyCapital account. Say “exit” if you are done, or “more” if you would like to do something else.

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