Jose Cotto and Doc Williams recently got together on Build With Me to talk voice experiences and voice technology. They discussed at length how True Reply helps you launch voice applications easily, fast, and cost-effectively with zero code or engineering time. Today, we’d like to take you through the basics of creating an Amazon Alexa Skill with True Reply and launching your Alexa Skill in minutes.
For this guide, let’s create a simple customer feedback voice application to let customers of Dave’s Bridal Shop leave feedback on their experience with the store.
Before we dive in, let’s start with a basic check list of artifacts we’ll need to launch our new Alexa Skill. We offer a good worksheet to help you through this process which you can download here.
- Name of your Amazon Alexa Skill
- Short, one sentence summary of your new Alexa Skill
- Detailed Description of your new Alexa Skill
- Keywords associated or linked to your Alexa Skills purpose
- Image Icon for your skill, 512 pixels wide by 512 pixels height in PNG format
- Welcome Message
- Thank you Message
- Help Message
- Your Questions/Messaging for your main engagement
So, with the above in hand, let’s dive in and get this thing working.
We’re going to start with creating your free True Reply account. If you already have your account, skip this step.
Go to truereply.com on your laptop and click the Get Started button.
Enter your personal information and click next to enter your new password.
With your new account created, you’ll go right into creating your first voice application with True Reply.
In your first step to creating a voice application, you will be able to select the kind of voice application you want to launch. For our Amazon Alexa Skill, we’re going to choose the first option - Engage customer & fans via voice assistants.
Next we’ll have the option to select a voice app template - a starting point for our voice experience. Depending on the kind of experience you’ll want to launch, pick one of the templates that is closest to the experience you’d like to create. These templates are meant to give us a starting point. You can also choose to start with a blank slate by choosing the Custom Experience option.
For our purposes here, we’re going to go with the Customer Feedback option. Click Next to move to the next step.
Now we’re going to enter the name of our Alexa Skill. This name is how users will identify the application and how it will show in the Amazon Alexa Skills directory found at amazon.com/alexa-skills.
Next we’re going to enter the one-sentence description of our Alexa Skill. This information will also be visible to users via the Amazon Alexa Skills directory.
With our information entered, let’s click Next.
Here we have the opportunity to select how you want your Alexa Skill to sound. You can choose Device Voice to use the default Alexa voice. You can also choose to upload your own audio for your Alexa Skill to give your voice experience a personal, authentic feel. Finally, you have the option to use a Voice Ambassador™ to give your Alexa Skill a professional sound with custom audio production provided automatically by our Voice Ambassadors™.
For today, let’s select to use Alexa’s voice by choosing the Device Voice option. Click Next after you make your selection.
Now we’ll start entering our voice experience details. We’ll start with our Welcome Message.
Your Welcome Message will be the first thing a user hears when they start your Amazon Alexa Skill. It’s how your Alexa Skill will greet them and it’s the first thing they hear from you. Let’s make it good 😌
Next, we’ll enter a Help Message. If at any point during your voice experience a user says “Help,” they will hear your Help Message. Use your Help Message to share information about your company or service and what your Alexa Skill is for.
Enter your Welcome Message and your Help Message then click Next.
We’ll now enter your Thank You messaging. Your Thank You Message will be heard by your users when they complete your voice experience. So for Dave’s Bridal Shop, users will hear this Thank You Message after they have provided their feedback.
In addition to the basic Thank You Message, you should enter your Early Exit message. If a user cancels out of your voice experience before they have completed all your feedback questions, this is the message they will hear.
Once you enter all your Thank You messaging, click Next.
Now we’ll enter our Engagement Steps. Your Engagement Steps are the “meat” of your Amazon Alexa Skill. For Dave’s Bridal Shop new customer feedback Alexa Skill, the Engagement Steps will be our feedback questions but your Engagement Steps can be anything - a story, a message, a piece of audio and more.
The questions we have from our template are pretty good so we’re going to just click Next here and move on.
Our next step will be to setup a few important items related to discovery & use of our new Amazon Alexa Skill. First and most important is the Invocation Name. The Invocation Name for your Alexa Skill is how users will activate/enable your Alexa Skill on Amazon Alexa-powered devices. It’s the Dave’s Bridal Shop portion of “Alexa, open Dave’s Bridal Shop.” Your Invocation Name does not have to be the same as the name of your Alexa Skill.
There are a few no-no’s when selecting your invocation name. For example, it cannot contain the words “Start,” “Ask”,”App” or “Alexa” as these words are used during normal usage of Alexa powered devices. True Reply will provide some flags/guidance if your innovation name is inappropriate and you can find more information via the (i) icon on this step. If you need help, click the blue chat box any time to get help from one of True Reply's Experience Specialists.
Once you decide on a great Invocation Name for your new Alexa Skill, you’ll want to enter the Detailed Description of your Alexa Skill - what it is, who’s it for, and who is providing it.
Keywords must also be entered to make your Alexa Skill easier to find. This is a comma separated list of keywords associated with your skill. For example, for Dave’s Bridal Shop, we’re going to choose “business, bridal, wedding.”
The final part of this step is uploading our Alexa Skill icon. This icon should be an image in PNG format that is 512 pixels by 512 pixels. This can be your company logo, icon/imagery depicting the purpose of your Alexa Skill, or whatever is appropriate. This icon is similar to the icon you might find for one of your mobile apps on your phone.
Click Next after you entered everything and selected your icon.
This is the final step before we can test our new Alexa Skill on our device. All these options are required.
First, select your country of participation. An important note, for testing live, we need to select the country we’re currently in or the Alexa Skill won’t be available for us to test. After you test and launch, you can drop a quick message to one of the Experience Specialists on what additional regions you’d like to make your skill available if you’d like to make it available outside your country of origin.
Next pick your Skill Category. This is how Amazon will list your Alexa skill on the Amazon Skills Directory. Pick a category as close as possible to your business market. Since we’re doing feedback for a retail business, we’re just going to pick Business and Finance here.
You will want to accurately select if your Alexa Skill is for children or not. If you make an inaccurate selection here, the approval process for your Alexa Skill will be delayed by Amazon.
Click Next when you’re all done. Congratulations! Your new Amazon Alexa Skill is ready to test!
In order to test our Alexa Skill right now, we need to securely link our Amazon account. Click the Login With Amazon button and login using the same account used for your local device. This will make it possible for True Reply to load your new Alexa Skill so you can test it with your device immediately.
Link your Amazon account and load your new Alexa Skill. This process takes a little over a minute. Once ready, you’ll receive an onscreen update to test your new Alexa Skill.
Your new Alexa Skill is now ready to test! If you don’t like something you’ve heard in your Alexa Skill, click previous to get to the step you want to change/update - Engagement Steps, Welcome Message, etc. then test again.
Once we're happy with how our Alexa Skill works and sounds, we’ll get a summary of our new Alexa Skill.
All that is left is to click Order Now to pay for our new Alexa Skill and move it over to the launch pad.
From the Launch Pad, you can submit your Alexa Skill to Amazon or select to launch later. On your launch pad, it takes about another minute or so to finalize your Alexa Skill for submission. Your Alexa Skill will remain accessible to your local device for continued testing and tweaking.
Click Launch Now to submit your new Alexa Skill to Amazon. It will take Amazon 48-72 hours, on average, to approve your new Alexa Skill and make it available to the world!
Congratulations! You just created your Amazon Alexa Skill - and you didn’t need a pocket protector or a team of hackers to do it! You rock!