Ask Alexa- How brands are using Amazon Echo’s personal assistant

With technology hurtling along at an ever-faster rate, sometimes you can’t help but wonder if it really is a brave new world, or overcomplicated excuse to sell more products.
Amazon’s personal assistant, Alexa, which runs on Echo hardware, is a prime example. On the face of it, having a bluetooth speaker doubling up as connected device which can complete a multitude of tasks, sounds incredible. ‘Dim the lights’, ‘give me train times from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston’, ‘find me a Mexican restaurant in central Brighton’. The list could go on.
But is it really performing as it should? More so, are brands ready to bring to market their ‘Alexa Skills’ (jobs that can be completed by this tech)? Or, are many companies rushing to launch on the platform without considering if their offering is useful, rather than a frustrating user experience?
This article on Econsultancy [LINK] makes the point clear. Citing firms like BMW and National Rail, along with user reviews of Alexa and Echo, it shows that in many situations customers are finding ‘Skills’ have been poorly conceived, and firms are not taking into consideration the reality of receiving the service.
Getting rail information for a city with more than one arrival station becomes laborious when functionality demands specifying one point of entry, rather than details on a wider region. And what’s the point in asking for car doors to be locked, without the same kit telling you if they were locked in the first place?
Nevertheless, some ‘Skills’ are definitely getting it right. Here are a few of the best early adopters, and how they are using this potentially game-changing system.

Amazon Alexa – Best early adopting brands 

Just Eat
When Alexa first appeared in America, users were limited to ordering a Domino’s pizza and that was about it. Britons don’t know they’re born, then, with instant access to more than 27,000 food sellers through a partnership with Just Eat- simply tell Alexa what you want, and it does the legwork, finding outlets with the best customer feedback to place the order.
Johnnie Walker
The Scotch whisky giant has developed a ‘Skill’ that is both useful and personal, but therefore also requires people to be open with their preferences. ‘Alexa, open up Johnnie Walker’ results in a huge amount of detail being offered on Scotland’s finest tipples, cocktail recipes and product recommendations based on individual tastes, including other brands, although the emphasis is obviously on in-house products. Tequila house Patron also has a similar set up.
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Capital One
One of the only financial brands to explore Alexa and Echo’s potential, Capital One offers a wide range of ‘Skills’ for users. Check how much you spent on a particular card, in a particular store, in a specified time frame. Ask when a bill is due, and even pay the balance in full or part. Ask for bank account updates, a breakdown of recent transactions in full, get details of charges incurred by repaying a loan early, or how many months remain on your borrowing agreement.
For people who have installed a Hive system to control their central heating, electricity use, and other fuel-related things in the home, Alexa is a marvel. From adjusting the internal temperature, to switching on the kettle so you no longer have to get up more than once to make a brew, this is the definition of labour saving, and, if used correctly, can help reduce bills and consumption.
Laundrapp is a mobile app that allows you to arrange for dry cleaning and dirty washing to be collected, washed, and then returned to you- with users specifying time and place. Alexa means you don’t even need the app anymore, just say what you want and before you know it there will never be another panicked Monday morning spent scouring for a shirt that doesn’t look like it was last in line when they handed out stain remover.

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