Add Reminders to your Alexa Skill to Keep Customers Engaged

Amazon recently announced a new feature for Alexa skill developers, the Reminders API. This API allows you to set custom reminders for users of your skill which will play with a chime at the requested time and can also fire an alert on their mobile phone if they have the Alexa companion application installed. Used properly, this new API has the promise of increasing repeat engagement with your customers, but you should think about the specific benefits users will gain by adding a reminder from your skill and make it as frictionless as possible for them before diving in.

Consider the Value Users Will Get from your Reminder

Reminders prompt users with a call to action, whether it’s to engage with something your skill provided from a previous interaction (such as an upcoming reservation), or to directly re-engage with your skill. In the latter case, since skill reminders can only be set within a session and with explicit user consent, you need to offer them a reason up front to return such as a limited-time engagement.

I have some casino-themed skills which feature a special weekly “tournament round” where you can play with a rotating set of unique slot machines or in a blackjack tournament with a fixed number of hands. Both are only available for a specific amount of time, as a key part of the excitement of these features is the ability to play and compare your results with other players globally and in real time.  These skills see spikes of up to 8x usage during the tournament windows, proving they are popular product features.  Given their limited window of availability, these are natural fits for the Reminders API.

Think About Reminder Messaging and Personalization

In cases where you prompt customers to engage with something provided by your skill like a reservation or an itinerary look-up, prompting the user as you fulfill their request is a natural part of the conversation flow.  However, if you are trying to drive customer re-engagement, you should think about the problem like you might think about an in-skill purchase.  Ultimately, you’re trying to convince the customer to interrupt their daily flow with your payoff being increased skill engagement, so the messaging should follow similar guidelines.

Specifically, I provide customers with an explicit way to set a reminder and message the capability in the skill store.  This allows customers to set a reminder whenever they choose.  But I also provide an upsell opportunity at an appropriate time.  When customers leave my skill, I was already reminding them if there is an upcoming tournament round in the next 12 hours.

Garrett Vargas, CTO of

It was a natural extension to follow up this information with an offer to set a weekly reminder.  Of course, I offset this with considerations such as whether the customer already has a reminder set for the upcoming tournament, and whether they have already heard about the option of setting a reminder. I don’t completely stop reminding customers after the first time in case they continue using the skill and eventually bite, though I do factor in their time zone and typical hours of usage (there would be nothing more annoying to a non-North American customer than to constantly hear about setting a reminder at 2:00 AM).  In the future, I’m considering adding a prompt at the end of the tournament event, to encourage someone who has already played in a tournament to come back the following week.

Reminders are Driving Increased Usage

The Reminders feature has just released and has only been available in my skills for a few weeks, but early signs are encouraging as my Slot Machine tournament round has seen a noticeable uptick in usage.  If you have or can add some limited-time engagements in your skill, you should also consider setting reminders.

“Garrett Vargas is CTO at, part of the Expedia Group. He has over 20 years of engineering leadership experience in technology. Over the past few years, he has published more than a dozen Alexa skills ranging from casual games to a skill for customers to manage their bookings. Mr. Vargas also currently serves as a technical advisor for the recent Alexa Accelerator graduate, Jargon.”

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