VoiceXP Debuts New Business Voice App Features, Pivots to SaaS
Voice skill platform developer VoiceXP is adding new ways for businesses to interact with customers through voice assistants. The new features are part of the company’s evolution from an agency to a pure Software-as-a-Service startup and its plans for future growth.
Universal Voice Platform
The VoiceXP platform at its core is designed to make it easy for companies to communicate with customers through voice assistants. The voice apps can be added to Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Samsung Bixby voice app stores. Companies can provide answers to frequently asked questions and add voice commerce options. Each company can also create its own sonic brand with custom voices and sound effects. All of the features are accessible without needing to know how to code a voice app from scratch.
“It’s the equivalent of Wix.com for voice,” said VoiceXP founder and CEO Bob Stolzberg in an interview with Voicebot. “You build once and then you can deploy it in multiple places. We call it a multi-modal voice experience and we want it to be Craigslist simple.”
Better Blueprints for Business
While VoiceXP can be used for Google Assistant and Samsung Bixby, the platform is an advanced tier partner with Amazon. That’s a function of Alexa’s dominance in the area, according to Stolzberg.
“We’re focused on Amazon because of brand recognition and that they have more customer development than Google and Samsung combined,” Stolzberg said. “We helped launch capsules for Bixby 2.0, but no customer is asking us for help with Google or Samsung yet. Basically, you have a website now, you’re going to have an Alexa skill someday, so that’s where we focus.”
Unlike platforms like VoiceFlow, VoiceXP is a form builder rather than a visual editor. The more immediate comparison is Alexa Skill Blueprints, but Stolzberg said he sees Blueprints as hobbyist-focused and not nearly as useful for businesses. In particular, Blueprints lacks the voice commerce capability of VoiceXP and is restricted solely to Alexa.
“VoiceXP is purpose-built for business,” Stolzberg said. “Blueprints doesn’t have any sales materials because there’s nothing to buy. Blueprints have a limited deployment footprint and VoiceXP can deploy to all of the skill stores by just checking a box. By being in front of more customers and listening, we understand what they want and how Skills can help their business and we build that into our platform. VoiceXP has covered more ground, faster than Amazon. I have met with the Blueprints team in Seattle on several occasions. We do not see each other as competition.”
Call Me Quick
Call Me is one of the latest additions to VoiceXP’s features. The idea is to skip the usual steps needed to connect businesses with customers and jump right to a phone call. Instead of looking up a company’s phone number and dialing, someone with an Alexa device can simply ask the voice assistant to have a company using VoiceXP to call them. All business skills built on VoiceXP request user contact info for that purpose, with that data secured and accessible only to the skill owner who has been given permission by the user. The Alexa skill will confirm the number the company should call, and the user’s phone will ring and immediately connect them to the company as can be seen in this demonstration.
“The Call Me feature is a huge thing to us, it’s the kind of killer app for voice [that] companies have been looking for,” Stolzberg said. “There’s a never-ending challenge to update customers because voice is moving at lightspeed. The challenge, as anyone will tell you, is helping [VoiceXP] customers justify spending and understanding what the ROI is and what the outcome of this thing will be. Helping customers and gathering data is enough justification for most companies to want to invest in voice.”
Marketing and Growing Voice App Discovery
Understanding how to use and market voice skills can be just as critical to success as actually building them, Stolzberg said. That’s why VoiceXP focuses on teaching its clients how to market what they build as an essential component to the overall platform. The company wrote a voice marketing plan for its premium customers, compiled using all of the lessons learned from the last three years. To make the biggest impression with a voice skill, VoiceXP encourages using social media and other channels to promote the voice apps, integrating voice into larger marketing plans and using templates like the one below.
“We’re not just a platform alone. We created our voice marketing plan to drive reengagement for our customers,” Stolzberg said. “The clients may understand how useful voice is without knowing how to market it, but we can show them. What we offer is available for any business. CenturyLink has seen great results. So has the largest large-print calendar seller on Amazon.”
Stolzberg said the new features are a direct result of client feedback. When clients ask to be able to do certain things, VoiceXP tries to accommodate and add new options to the platform. The positive responses from clients overall have led to some rapid growth for the company. VoiceXP has raised $275,000 from investors since 2017, but Stolzberg said he is planning another round of funding to fuel the next stage of the company.
“We’re going for another investment round. We want to grow exponentially worldwide,” Stolzberg said. “The Midwest is very conservative when it comes to investment, which makes it a challenge raising money. Every investor says the same thing, that they want to see traction, and now we have it. I’ve walked on hot coals of investment fires before. I want to do it on my terms. There’s a niche in voice to carve and we are carving it.”