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Your new Alexa Skill could answer past unanswered questions, retroactively

by | Sep 13, 2018

In August Amazon revealed a native skill for Alexa users called “Answer Update.”  This skill allows users to permit Alexa to notify them that Alexa now has an answer to a question they asked previously, but Alexa didn’t have an answer for.

We’ve all been the recipient of a response from Alexa that is less than ideal:

  • “I don’t know that, but I’m always learning,”
  • “I can’t find the answer to the question I heard”
  • “Sorry, I didn’t understand the question.”

Or some variation of these. And this is to be expected given it is an emerging technology, and information proprietors (brands, companies, product owners) are still strategizing how to engage with it.  Though the Alexa Skills Store has thousands of skills, the numbers pale in comparison to what will be experienced at higher adoption rates.

Amazon’s ‘Answer update’ (initially discovered by our friends at voicebot.ai) is a feature and skill that when enabled (or randomly triggered by Amazon itself) will inform the user that Alexa now has an answer for a question that was previously asked.

So here at Voicify we contemplated how Alexa is going to get these answers.  Since Amazon isn’t a search platform specifically (though numbers tell us Amazon is a top product search originator), where will it get the answers?  Google still owns the ‘search the internet responses’ which supports its general search engine market share, and is integrated with Google Assistant.  But if Alexa is going to ‘get smarter’ and proactively tell us it now has an answer, where is it coming from?

It seems logical that given Alexa’s emerging ability to suggest a skill as a response to an inquiry versus supplying the answer directly, would yield the ability to update a previously unanswered question. Techcrunch was told by an Amazon spokesperson,

“Currently, in limited scenarios, Alexa will respond to certain questions by suggesting skills that may be helpful.  We are excited for this feature to expand and to roll out to more customers over time to help them discover new skills and get information through Alexa.”

If Alexa is able to respond to certain questions by suggesting a skill, it seems logical that new skills could inform unanswered questions of the past.

What does this mean for companies looking to get into the voice game?

Well, it’s not just a ‘moving forward’ play anymore.  By creating a skill, it’s content could be an answer for any number of users who didn’t get an answer the first time around.  That’s a market capture and awareness play in our minds.

Interested in how the Voicify Experience Platform can enable and accelerate your voice channel strategy? Let us know.  We live for this.

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