Design a Good Customer Experience for In-Skill Purchasing
When you add in-skill purchasing (ISP), you need to think about ways to provide a premium experience for your customers. In-skill products should enhance the experience of the skill and provide value to the customer beyond the basic (free) skill content.
- How to think about free vs paid skill experiences
- Types of in-skill products
- Best practices for engaging customers
- Help Customers find your in-skill products
- Best practices for subscriptions
- Best practices for consumables
- Handling the post-purchase flow
- Make it easy to cancel premium content
- Optimize your results
- Related topics
How to think about free vs paid skill experiences
Free experiences should:
- Feel worthwhile without the need to pay for content
- Demonstrate enough value to drive interest in a paid experience
- Give customers enough context to clearly understand what they get with paid content
Paid experiences should:
- Extend or enhance the skill experience with more useful features or tools
- Provide additional content that gives customers something new to experience
Types of in-skill products
Allow customers to pay a flat monthly fee for access to content or services, such as monthly access to all content channels in a radio broadcast skill or tiered access to channels (sports, news, comedy) in a podcast service. Customers are charged on a recurring basis until they decide to cancel.
One-time purchase / persistent entitlements
Allow customers to pay for access to premium features within the skill experience that will remain available perpetually. Examples include additional theme packs in a trivia game skill or an additional branch of content in a choose-your-own-adventure story. They are purchased once and do not expire.
One-time purchase / consumables
Allow customers to pay for access to additional parts of an experience that are available for use until depleted, either by quantity or time. Some examples include hints in a trivia game, currency in a farming game or limited time access to a special branch of content in a story skill. Consumable purchases are used, are depleted, and can be purchased again.
Best practices for engaging customers
Your free content is a showcase of what your skill can do on which you can build compelling premium content that further engages customers. You'll need to keep rewarding customer engagement by offering incentives to return to your skill, such as new features and refreshed content. To make sure your skills are highly engaging even before you create your first in-skill product, check out these topics on best practices when building skills:
- Be brief
- Prompt with guidance for the user
- Provide contextual help
- Customize how Alexa responds with SSML
- Display and Behavior Specifications for Alexa-Enabled Devices with a Screen
Help Customers find your in-skill products
How to make a purchase suggestion
The purchase suggestion is a way to market your in-skill product to customers based on how the customer has used your skill. The purchase suggestion hands off the customer interested in purchasing products to the product flow handled by Amazon, which includes the product description and price. You won't need to provide this in your purchase suggestion to the customer. Learn more about adding products to your skill.
The purchase suggestion is made up of three parts:
- A starting phrase that gracefully transitions from the current state to the offer.
A brief description of the product offered and its availability to the customer. If your product is an entitlement or consumable, be careful not to repeat information that is included in your product's
purchasePromptDescriptionsince customers will hear that in the purchase flow handled by Amazon.
Note: Amazon provides the
purchasePromptDescriptionand price only for entitlements. For subscriptions, Amazon provides the price before confirming the purchase.
- An explicit confirmation (Yes/No) to confirm that the customer is interested, such as, "Wanna learn more?"
The customer has finished the all free content in the skill Treasure Finders.
Alexa: "You found all 6 treasures. Great job! If you'd like more adventures to play, you can now get the Cave Quest expansion pack. Wanna learn more?"
Let's break down how this example fits our purchase suggestion model.
- Transition: "You found all 6 treasures. Great job! If you'd like more adventures to play…"
This transition has Alexa acknowledging that the user completed the content and flows nicely into the purchase suggestion.
- Product description: "…you can now get the Cave Quest expansion pack."
The product description gives a brief overview of the offer.
- Explicit confirmation: "Wanna learn more?"
The customer is given a yes/no confirmation to continue to the purchase flow, which is handled by Amazon.
|Determine whether a customer is interested in your product.||Don't include pricing details, because pricing is handled by Amazon.|
|Offer relevant products to the customer.||Don't offer a sales pitch.|
|Summarize what the product will provide to the customer.||Never interrupt the customer.|
|End with an explicit confirmation (Yes/No) statement.||Avoid offering multiple products at the same time.|
|Make sure to offer different products each time for variety.||Don't keep suggesting the same product, because it will feel like an interruption to the customer.|
|Make the customer aware of any quantity or time limits on the product.||Don't leave the customer stuck at a paywall, blocking additional content.|
How to handle direct purchasing
If a customer wants to purchase an item directly, you'll need to send them to Amazon's purchase flow without the need for an explicit confirmation. If the customer does not call out the item by name, you will need to ask them which product they want and then send them to the purchase flow.
The customer names an item they want to purchase.
Customer: "Buy the Cave Quest expansion pack"
Alexa (via the Amazon Purchase Flow): "The Cave Quest expansion pack includes 5 new adventures to discover ancient buried treasure. It's $1.99 plus tax. Would you like to buy it?"
The customer wants to purchase an item, but does not specify by name.
Customer: "I want an expansion pack."
Alexa: "I have two expansion packs that continue the adventure you just finished: Cave Quest adventures or Deep Sea puzzle games. Which one would you like?"
Customer: "Deep Sea."
Alexa (via the Amazon Purchase Flow): "Great choice. The Deep Sea expansion pack has 7 new puzzles. It's $3.99 plus tax. Would you like to buy it?""
Offer a reminder
Reminders are a good way to keep customers engaged with your skill by letting them know what's available. To remind your customers that they can shop your in-skill products, prompt them while using your skill. Remember to provide an offer that is relevant to how they're using the skill with examples of things they can ask for, then resume the free experience. The customer should not have to respond if they don't want to.
The customer is playing the free adventure series and is nearly done with the free content.
Alexa: "You've found 5 out of 6 treasures. Good job! When you're done with this adventure, you can get new adventures to play anytime- just ask me for expansion packs." (Pause)
"Let's keep going to find the last treasure. As you walk in the dark forest…"
You can also tell the customer to come back for new content to play during a logical pause in the dialog flow.
Alexa: "You've solved 3 out of 7 puzzles. If you like this puzzle, you might enjoy playing new monthly puzzles found in Treasure Finders Plus. Just ask me for monthly puzzle or adventures to explore."(Pause)
"Alright, we've got some fun puzzles to solve! In the deep sea you'll find…"
Add a store option to your skill
If your skill already provides a set of actions when launched, include an option to hear a list of your products as if they were shopping in a store. This gives customers a reliable way to find a product when they're ready to buy.
- Let customers know what to expect by including words like "shop" or "for purchase" in your store option
- Make sure to include your shop option in the Help intent for customers who need further assistance
Let the customer know about the store in the welcome message.
Alexa: "Welcome to Treasure Finders. You can play Treasure Trove, check your score, or hear about more games and puzzles for sale. Which would you like?"
Customer: "What's in the store?"
Alexa: "I have 2 collections to choose from, Cave Quest or Deep Sea puzzles. Which are you interested in?"
Best practices for subscriptions
You'll need to specifically call out if a product is part of a subscription series so customers understand there is a recurring cost and new content every month.
Your customer has played all of the content available to them, but may want to play more purchased content.
Alexa: "You've played all of your adventure packs. You might like Treasure Finders Plus which includes 2 new adventures and 3 new puzzles every month to play. Wanna learn more?"
Offer subscription trial periods
Trial periods are a great way for users to get a sense of the monthly content you'll offer with a subscription. Share the benefits a customer may be interested in, but refrain from sharing nonessential details. You'll need to clarify that the trial is available to "new subscribers only". Past subscribers will not be offered a trial when signing up. You can set a trial period for subscriptions for up to 30 days but don't mention the duration in your trial offer- that will be covered by the Amazon purchase flow.
Your customer wants to play The Chasm, but it's part of a subscription series.
Customer: "Play The Chasm adventure."
Alexa: "The Chasm is only available with a subscription to Treasure Finders Plus. Subscribers get a collection of exclusive adventures, with a new one added each month. New subscribers can try it for free. Wanna learn more?"
Alexa (via the Amazon Purchase Flow): "Treasure Finders Plus is free for 7 days. Then you'll be charged $4.99 a month plus tax. Cancel anytime. Check the Alexa app for terms. Should I start your free trial?"
Best practices for consumables
You'll need to specifically call out if a product is consumable so customers understand that these products can be depleted. The best way to do this is to be clear about the quantity or duration of the consumable in the product name and description.
Your customer is stuck at a level and can buy hints to help answer a trivia question correctly and progress to the next level.
Alexa: "You are just one right answer away from Level 2. You can buy a package of 3 hints to get help with this answer. Would you like to learn more?"
Tracking consumable purchases
Consumable products are a great way to allow customers to gain a quick boost or help them overcome a difficult obstacle in a game. However, there will be cases where the customer will consume them over time. Providing the customer with reminders or the ability to inquire about the balance of their consumables will allow them to understand what is available to them and know when they are ready to purchase again.
Example of a gentle reminder:
A customer purchased a 7-day code to an exclusive story branch that expires in 2 days.
Alexa: "Welcome back. You have 2 days left in the land of faeries before you are kicked back to the main road. Would you like to continue where you left off?"
Example of a customer inquiry:
A customer bought 100 coins in a game and wants to know how many they have left.
Alexa: "Welcome back to Pirate Treasures. You can check the gold in your bags or continue the game where you left off. Which would you like?"
Customer: "How many coins do I have left in my bag?"
Alexa: "Yikes! You have 13 coins left, it looks like you're about to run out. Want to learn how to get more?"
Handling the post-purchase flow
Whether or not your customer buys an entitlement or signs up for a subscription, you'll need to create a graceful hand off from the Amazon purchase flow back to your skill. For consumables, this may include instructions on how to access or use the new inventory of products that are now available to them.
Your customer asked to play The Chasm, which is part of a subscription that they purchased. After the purchase flow, you should immediately fulfill the request.
Alexa: "Let's explore The Chasm. You've made it through the dark woods and come upon a mysterious rift in the ground…"
Your customer purchased a 5-hint pack in a trivia game. After the purchase flow, you should immediately tell them how to access the hints.
Alexa: "Bring on the trivia! Thanks for buying 5 additional hints. Any time you'd like to use them, just say 'Give me a hint!' Now back to your last question, would you like to use a hint now?"
What if your customer doesn't purchase? You will need to handle that as well, depending on the context. If your customer has exhausted all content and has refused other options, you will need to end the session.
The customer has played all free content and does not want to purchase content.
Alexa: "You've found all 6 treasures. Come back anytime to check out new adventures and puzzles. Goodbye."
Make it easy to cancel premium content
Refunds and cancellations always err on the side of the customer and should never be used as an opportunity to remind them of the products offered. Any refunds and cancellations will be handled by Amazon through the purchase flow again.
Do not change global intents like "cancel", "stop", or "end" to trigger a refund, cancellation, or unsubscribe intent. This will end your skill instead of ending the purchase flow. You must point your skill back to the Amazon purchase flow to handle cancellations instead. Learn more about handling refund requests.
Optimize your results
If you find that customers are getting product suggestions in a timely manner but the number of purchases are low, you may want to experiment with changing a few key items with your in-skill product offering.
- Change the list price of your in skill product or modify the trial period for your subscription.
- Change the value benefit of your product by changing the product type or quantity. Buying 1 hint for 99 cents might be an easier sell than unlimited hints for $9.99.
- Update your
productOfferDescriptionand the product summary. Learn more about modifying a product.
- Try changing how often customers hear about your product offerings.
- Reevaluate the content of your product. Do you need to add more content to make it truly a premium experience? If your content is older, it may be time to add a new product to your skill.
- Consider what products and product types you have that may overlap and confuse the customer. Simplify your store by offering different types of products. A shortcut may be better sold as a consumable whereas premium content may be a better value unlocked as a persistent entitlement.
Check the Measure Skill Usage page to view metrics on your in-skill product offerings. Tracking the Offer Impressions and Offer Conversion Rate over time will indicate if the changes you make to improve your products are actually working by making your product offering more attractive to customers.
For more information on ISP:
- In-Skill Purchasing Overview
- Add ISP Support to Your Skill Code
- Create and manage in-skill products
- Handling refund requests
For more information on ISP metrics, see Measure Skill Usage
For help with designing skills, see the Alexa Design Guide
For more information on prosody and SSML, see Speech Synthesis Markup Language