Amazon's Alexa isn't just for checking the weather and playing your favorite playlists, businesses have been utilizing Alexa's now expansive toolset to interact with customers in new and creative ways.
Alexa Skills have opened a new channel for ways that consumers can interact with your business.
Alexa Skills can be developed by anyone. Hundreds of third-party developers have already created scripts for Alexa to run and better interact with customers. Currently, the most popular way businesses are taking advantage of Alexa are through these individual skills.
Skills allow businesses to turn Alexa into a virtual storefront and utilize the platform's customer service skills. Restaurant chains such as Fazoli's are rolling out a downloadable Alexa skill that allows customers to place an order for pickup using their voice.
"We are moving to an on-demand and stay-at-home economy, and we will work to provide our guest with every ordering option available and furthermore provide … every option to receive our great-tasting Italian dishes," Fazoli's CEO Carl Howard said.
Businesses such as Best Buy, Pizza Hut and Uber have Skills that allow you to hear deals, order products and leave feedback. Skills aren't just limited to large corporations, however. Anyone with moderate programming skills can create an Alexa Skill easily with the Skill Kit, which includes several how-to guides and tutorials.
Recently, Amazon made it even easier to make a custom Alexa Skill with their Blueprints platform. This allows you to create Skills, even if you don't have any programming experience. Amazon offers a library of templates and simple logic fields to make Alexa respond to specific inquiries with a programmed answer. However, currently, it's not able to do anything advanced, like order a pizza or reserve a hotel room.
One of the most useful Blueprints is the Q&A template, which allows you to make a detailed FAQ program for your product. You could essentially make a virtual manual, programming Alexa to walk customers through setting your product or service up or troubleshooting issues. As of right now, you'll have to directly share your Blueprint Skill directly with the customers rather than being downloadable from the Skill Store.
Alexa for Hospitality is another avenue to improve customer service, specifically for hotel and lodging services. Hotels have been implementing Alexa-enabled devices in rooms with the Hospitality app that allows guests to access several of your services with just their voice. For one, they can control different devices in the room such as the lights, television and thermostat. It can also be programmed so guests can order room service or call the front desk for help. There's even an option to let guests check out with Alexa.
With the program, you can order Echo devices in bulk through Amazon Business and deploy them throughout your hotel, preloaded with your desired Skills. They're all connected to a centralized console that allows you to remotely update all your devices.
On a smaller scale, for individuals who provide single lodgings, such as Airbnb hosts, Alexa can be utilized to provide similar services like reciting the house rules, suggesting local restaurants and attractions or providing the host's contact information. This can easily be programmed with Alexa Skill Blueprints.
Alexa is being used at clinics and hospitals to make life easier for patients and healthcare providers. There are Skills available for use at the bedside that allow patients to call for the nurse with their voice. Devices can be programmed to raise the bed, control the lights in the room, and in some cases, control a pain reliever drip, making it optimal for patients who can't move.
At home, Alexa Skills can answer patient questions while they're recovering from home. They can give a brief diagnosis, contact their doctor and schedule and reschedule appointments.