One Great Thing You Absolutely Must Do for Your VUI

(Apologies for the Buzzfeed-like title.)

Let’s jump right in and give away the secret, because there really is no secret. The one great thing you must do for your VUI to make it relevant, fabulous, interesting, and usable is this:

Understand your customer.

It’s incredibly simple to make that statement, but (of course) it’s much harder to implement. If it were easy to do, everyone would be doing it. What does understanding your user mean and how might it play out?

A lot of times, user-centered design focuses around demographics:

Our typical user is male, lives in the midwest, has an average income of $X, and is aged 25–30.”

Now, of course demographics are important, but it can create the illusion that you understand things.

Truly understanding your user means that you, or someone on your design team, has the ability to get into that person’s head. Who is calling? Why? We also need to anticipate other contextual clues that may potentially affect the caller experience.

Are they tired?

Are they busy?

Are they feeling some financial pressure as they’re juggling the bills?

Are they excited to be doing some shopping?

In other words, mindset. Don’t overlook it!

How do demographics translate into caller / user mindset? Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Let’s take income bracket as one example. Suppose your customers are in a lower income bracket. This is going to lead to a caller mindset around juggling the bills. This leads to behavior patterns. For example, there may be spikes in payment activity around the time of the month when people get their paycheck. Knowing this, you can optimize your user interface around this behavior pattern. For example: offering a payment option in the beginning of your IVR, or creating a time-sensitive reminder email or text.

So, demographics -> mindset -> behavior patterns -> adaptive user interface = more payments processed.

But there are lots of other implications for understanding your customer, and they don’t all start with demographics.

More, coming up in part 2!

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