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017 – Bob Stolzberg – Wise Words from a Voice Pioneer

The next episode of the Future Ear Radio podcast features Bob Stolzberg, Founder & CEO of VoiceXP. Bob launched VoiceXP more than three years ago, which he describes as the “Wix of Voice Experiences,” allowing for anyone to build their own Alexa skill or Google action in minutes. In addition Bob was one of the first developers to be awarded by Amazon the status of, “Alexa Champion,” given his deep expertise of the platform and the third-part skill ecosystem. So, I thought it would make sense to bring Bob on the pod to share some of his key learnings from the past three years working in the burgeoning field of voice.

Bob believes that one misconception he’s come across with clients and prospects is that companies don’t need a grandiose voice experience right out of the gate. He likens this to when companies first started creating websites, and how the basics were what was needed at the time, which was information about the company and its offerings. Walk before you run, but recognize that getting started is very easy.

Building on this, we talked about how essential the marketing efforts are to the success of a voice experience, as customers or potential customers won’t know it exists without some type of nudge. Last year, I wrote in the Harvard Business Review about the need for creative marketing efforts in conjunction with the creation of voice skills, after discussing with Bob what he has found to be working with his successful clients. Since we’re effectively living in an era with the voice web that is akin to the text-web pre-Google, the onus is on the marketers to make existing or prospective customers aware of the voice experience.

If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.

In the second half of the conversation, we shift to talking about how we think the voice web will evolve. One of the biggest breakthroughs that Bob sees coming down the pike is the vast increase in the number of API’s that Alexa and Google Assistant will be able to tap into. As Bob describes, this will enable “magic phrase” invocations, circumventing the existing method of invoking Alexa and the skill (“Alexa, open ____”), and rather allowing consumers to access the voice experience through the “magic phrase.” This would not only reduce the friction and frustration users currently experience, but it would also encourage all different types of businesses to build voice experiences tethered to a “magic phrase.”

Bob illustrates this concept further by using the example of “in-situation” invocations, using an injury attorney as the example. As he describes it, you’ve been driving past a billboard the past six-months advertising a personal injury attorney and the Alexa invocation or “magic phrase” used to access that skill with your Alexa Auto device. You get in a car accident and remember that billboard and the two-three word phrase to invoke it, “Help me Cantor Injury Law” or something to that effect, which then sends your information into Cantor’s system, prompting Cantor Injury Law to call you (because your contact info is tied to your Alexa account).

Bob believes that these type of experiences will come to exist through a combination of platform innovations from companies like Amazon or Google, allowing for more natural and seamless invocations and skill access, and also from creative marketers who understand that they need to use legacy channels and methods to drive voice experience adoption. It’s definitely an exciting vision and one that we’ll need to keep an eye on as things evolve.

-Thanks for Reading-

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