Developer Brian Tarbox wanted to create a skill that provided easy access to information about Premier League soccer matches, player statistics, team standings, and more. A veteran developer and AWS Community Hero, Tarbox created the PremierLeague skill based on his passion for the sport.
Initial iterations of the skill allowed users to interact with the skill using their voice. However, there was room to add on a more layered experience, especially on Alexa-enabled multimodal devices that featured screens.
Four years after the skill was published, the Alexa Skills Insights team reached out to Tarbox with two simple and powerful recommendations that helped him turbocharge skill discovery and drive revenue. Alexa Skills Insights is a global team that works to identify, test, catalog, and provide recommendations to developers that have developed Alexa Skills. Since 2019, the team has helped drive meaningful improvements to thousands of Alexa skills.
The Alexa Skills Insights team works backward from the user experience to make recommendations that focus on delivering a better customer experience. The team tests a skill thoroughly before determining an optimal set of improvements. The team sends its recommendations to the developer, and includes relevant links to resources on the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).
After reaching out, the team tracks the impact of the improvements by measuring customer retention increases in user interaction with the skill. The team also speaks with marketing teams at Amazon to potentially feature select skills on channels like Featured Skill Cards on Echo Show home screens.
“Our goal is to provide suggestions that developers can use to build a better customer experience and grow their traffic,” says Omkar Phatak from the Alexa Skill Insights team.
The Alexa Skills Insights team sent two key recommendations to Tarbox.
First, while the PremierLeague skill provided a compelling voice-only experience, the Alexa Skills Insights team saw its potential to flourish as a multimodal Alexa skill. The team suggested Tarbox use Alexa Presentation Language (APL) to add a visual experience to his skill for customers with screens.
Beyond communicating the technical details of leveraging the Alexa Presentation Language, the Alexa Skill Insights team also emphasized content that lent itself to visual representations, along with their optimal contexts.
The updated skill is a visual and touch-based experience as well as an auditory one. The skill now shows information such as top scorers, team information, yellow cards, clean sheets, results from previous weeks, and fixtures for the coming week. It also features deep dives on players who have the most touches, tackles, and fouls. The skill shows this information on the screen in addition to reading relevant stats aloud. Tarbox added background noise to the skill to provide a more immersive experience, and plans to create a kiosk mode for devices like the Amazon Echo Show 15 that would allow users to cycle thorough a range of graphs.
“Now, the skill is a visual and touch-based experience as well as an auditory one,” says Phatak.
The Alexa Skills Insights team’s second recommendation focused on improving NLU accuracy to make sure user requests were heard and answered correctly, with a suggestion that the developer add a few more sample utterances.
Utterances are the vocal commands that initiate Alexa actions. Developers can specify the most relevant utterances for their skills in the developer console. The heavy lifting related to natural language understanding and automatic speech recognition is handled by Alexa.
The improvements Tarbox made to the PremierLeague skill based on recommendations from the Alexa Skills Insights team resulted in a significant increase in user interactions.
“The key value our team can deliver is to help developers boost skill discovery and grow their businesses,” says Phatak. “Ultimately, this comes from creating experiences that customers enjoy.”
Even though Tarbox was an experienced voice developer, he was appreciative of the suggestions provided by Alexa Skill Insights.
“I had been letting the skill largely coast along but had started to think about making a visual version of the skill. When your team listed that as one of their top suggestions, it gave me the push I needed to build experiences for devices with screens. The team also made a number of other suggestions which made all kinds of sense to me, so I implemented all of them. Voice is still such a new arena that we can all benefit from listening to people whose job it is to understand that space. It helps each individual skill and raises the whole Alexa experience.”
You can look for Alexa skills insights recommendations provided on the developer console, or reach out to the team at firstname.lastname@example.org with your skill name and skillID information for quality improvement recommendations. We will get back to relevant enquiries.