Help for Everyday Tasks. I asked. You answered.
It’s no secret that we’re all feeling more than a little stressed out. Those idyllic-looking memes that show a perfectly coiffed housewife at the stove, three smiling children at the dinner table, and a jolly dad walking in the door with a briefcase look nothing like today’s family (if they ever did).
Recently, I bought Amazon’s Echo Dot. I’m not exaggerating when I say it has revolutionized my daily workflows, for both my job and my personal life. That nebulous stress I mentioned has decreased significantly for me because Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, has my back.
As a passionate consumer who wants to broadcast to the world when I find an amazing product, I’m working on a blog post about how to get the most out of Alexa. I’m writing about Alexa’s basic skills that everyone can use, as well as skills that geeks and entertainment junkies will love.
To find out what people need the most out of Alexa, I posted a survey for my subscribers and followers to complete. They did not disappoint! I received more than 60 responses, which meant that clear trends emerged from the raw data. I now have more insight into what people need help with the most in their daily lives.
First, let’s take a look at who completed the survey.
Full-time or Part-time Workers
The majority of survey respondents (43%) described themselves as working full-time. That could be full-time in an office or full-time at home; I didn’t ask them to specify.
The next biggest group were people who work part-time (18%), which tied with people who would describe themselves as having some kind of combination of work or student status (18%).
Next were people who chose “my family is my work” (16%).
Because “work full-time” was by far the biggest group, I’ll be focusing on what those people need from Alexa, that could also work for the other groups.
The numbers for the two largest age groups were pretty close. The majority of respondents were 46 to 55 years-old (38%). The next biggest group (35%) was 36 to 45 year-olds.
These numbers gave me pause. Although a 55 year-old person can probably understand and use technology pretty easily, I know I’ll have to spell out every single step, rather than make any assumptions about what they might already know.
I asked the respondents to tell me all the things they’re interested in, so I can focus on writing about the Alexa skills that will appeal to my audience the most.
I was happy that the three most popular interests were movies and TV (80%), books and magazines (78%), and travel (70%), because those are the topics I primarily write about. Plus, those are interests that Alexa has skills for.
Now, let’s examine which chores are giving respondents the most trouble.
I asked respondents to check all the daily tasks that they would like help with. I purposely included chores that Alexa might not have any skills for, just to get a better picture of what kind of help people need.
I knew that if I had a better idea of what people needed help with, I could come up with some creative ways to ease at least a little bit of their stress. For instance, Alexa can’t drive your children to soccer, but she can tell you what the traffic is like so you can plan a better route.
Overwhelmingly, people chose household chores (93%) as the task they needed help with the most. No surprise there! Who likes cleaning?
After household chores, the next biggest problem for respondents was grocery shopping (53%) (another of my least favorite tasks). Scheduling appointments and general reminders tied for third place (33%). One amazing individual said they didn’t need help with any of the tasks that were listed. Maybe that person could give me some tips?
The one thing most people do with their Amazon Echo is ask Alexa for information. Most users know she can answer just about any question you ask. But what do people ask the most?
I asked respondents, “What information do you wish you had at your fingertips at any given time?” They could check as many topics as they wanted.
Weather (68%) was the number one answer, which is no surprise; the weather dictates everything from what we wear to how we travel. News, of all kind, was second (57%). Third was lifestyle information (50%), like recipes, life hacks and cooking tips.
After lifestyle information, there’s a large drop to the next biggest group, trivia (21%), and so on.
The next thing I wanted to know was how people would most want to interact with Alexa. Alexa can be very interactive, which people may not realize. But I wasn’t sure how to ask this question in a survey. I didn’t want answers to be too broad, but I also didn’t want to lead anyone.
I asked respondents, “If you were lonely, what would you like best?” By asking someone to picture themselves at a low point, or in a social vacuum, I figured they would be able to boil down exactly what kind of interaction they would want most out of Alexa.
The top answer was “a chat” (58%). That was helpful because, believe it or not, Alexa can actually hold very basic conversations. Next was the ability to check social media, or to post to social media (47%). That means that about half of the respondents truly feel connected to other people through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like.
Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot can also be used as communication devices. Just as I did with the interaction portion of the survey, I wanted respondents to picture themselves in a worst-case scenario, in order to figure out how Alexa could best help them communicate. I asked respondents, “If you lost your phone, how would you prefer to communicate?”
I was surprised to find out that, far and away, the number one answer was text messages (67%). I was also pleased to see that, because Alexa is a pro at sending messages.
After texting, there was an enormous drop to the next most popular answer. “None of these” was second (22%). I purposely left out “calling someone” because Alexa is so-so at that skill. Perhaps the people who chose “none of these” were thinking they’d like to call someone on a different phone.
Finally, I asked the respondents to tell me the one thing that they would like help with beyond anything else. To make sure they answered with the thing that bothers them the most, I asked, “What is the ONE THING you wish someone else would do for you for the rest of your life?”
Here, I wanted to see if they came up with something I hadn’t thought of. I wanted to get creative with what Alexa can do. Although respondents answered freely in a blank text box, a few trends emerged.
Cleaning, cooking and laundry were very popular answers. Yard work and errands were popular too. Here and there, respondents gave unique answers. One person answered “sex,” and another said “communicate with my wife.” Hm, I don’t know if Alexa has any solutions for those last two problems.
The results of this survey were terribly helpful. I know what kind of skills to research, and which chores and tasks people need the most help with. Hopefully, I’ll come up with some creative solutions that will help people get through their day more efficiently, and less painfully.
Nancy Basile is a freelance writer. You can see her work on her own blog at mediamedusa.com, as well as Paste Magazine, Comic Book Resources, The Penny Hoarder, ThoughtCo, LNP and the Reading Eagle.