An Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice application developed for Prime Resi.
Launched in 2012, PrimeResi is now firmly established as an essential tool for the major players at the top of the residential property market, providing intelligent, informed coverage of all the issues affecting the UK’s prime residential industry.
Following our successful launch of PrimeResi’s new website in early 2018, we identified that their users wanted a quick way to get the latest content when they start their day. The PrimeResi founders asked us to design and build a voice app targetted specifically at the luxury property market. To answer the challenge we created a bespoke Amazon Alexa Skill and a Google Assistant Action. Voice is, after all, the best way to communicate naturally to end users.
Alexa: Custom Skill vs. Flash Briefing
In order to achieve the flexibility required we decided to develop a custom skill rather than a flash briefing. Flash briefings have limited functionality – Alexa takes headlines via an RSS or JSON feed from a website, which is often cached. Developers and content producers don’t have much control over the content served. Conversely, a custom skill offers much more scope for getting information. With this route chosen we were able to leverage a number of key benefits:
– Ability to create a conversation and define sample utterances
– The website’s content management system can serve different content to different users. Content served can also be changed instantly instead of being cached by Amazon
– Custom skills support Display Templates. This enabled us to display featured images on the Echo Show and Echo Spot
Starting with a custom skill also meant we could expand its functionality in the future; video content from the PrimeResi website could be served to Echo Shows and Echo Spots, account linking could be used to give PrimeResi’s paid subscribers extra benefits and Alexa Notifications could be used to push breaking news stories to users. If we started with a flash briefing then we would be vastly limited in what we could achieve.
Platform parity with the Google Assistant
The Google Assistant is similar to Amazon Alexa in that it employs a Voice User Interface, but it offers different features and is already pre-installed on millions of devices around the world.
Most people who own an Android smartphone can simply say “Hey Google,” and their phone will light up. The Google Assistant uses Custom Actions created by developers in the same way that Skills add to Alexa’s capabilities. PrimeResi on the Google Assistant is a great way for people to catch the latest headlines away from home.
A list of the latest articles from PrimeResi is available through the Assistant. And, being on a smartphone, these cards link to the article’s mobile optimised webpage without so much as leaving the assistant.
Voice app provision is a great way for brands to engage more deeply with their user base. We have found that users engage with brand content via voice assistants on a more regular basis than they might otherwise, giving businesses that extra reach to cut through the noise of the modern communications and news climate.
Amazon Alexa Skill
Enabling the skill is the first step to using it. You can enable it from Amazon.co.uk’s website, or from the Alexa app for iOS or Android. Once enabled, get the PrimeResi daily briefing simply by saying, “Alexa, get the headlines from PrimeResi.” Alexa will read out the headlines of the latest articles. Or, for a longer briefing with an excerpt from each article, just say, “Alexa, ask PrimeResi for the extended briefing.” You can even search for articles by saying, “Alexa, ask PrimeResi to search for [search term],” and Alexa will give you the latest relevant results.
🅖 Ask PrimeResi to Get PrimeResi for the Google Assistant
To get PrimeResi on the Google Assistant, you need to have a smartphone with the Google Assistant app (sometimes this is pre-installed) or a Google Home product such as the Google Home Mini. Just say, “Ok, Google, ask Prime Resi for the headlines.”
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