The future of communicating with devices or businesses is voice. If by now it is a must for any business to have a website, there will soon be a time where customers will search for information by voice first. Therefore, even small businesses must be able to answer their customers’ questions via new technologies like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby, or Apple’s Siri.
The bad news: building Alexa skills can get pretty complicated. The functionality has to be built by experienced developers. That means you must either have the development expertise, or the money to pay someone who has that expertise – which can be quite a lot.
The good news: anyone can create Alexa skills for their business without needing a specialist or developer. It can be as easy as copying and pasting the FAQ from your website into another tool.
This post is an overview of your options for creating Alexa skills for your business. All the tools that we know of are compared in the several approaches below.
There exists a few different ways to create Alexa skills without having to code – you should choose the right one depending on your needs. First we will give you a brief overview, and then dive deeper into the different tool options you have.
“Plug and Play” tools
These tools do all the heavy lifting for you and serve very special purposes. If, for example, you want to answer questions your customers might have about your business (like the FAQ on your website) these are great! If you need custom functionality (e.g. you are a taxi company that wants to find drivers near the customer) those tools won’t help you.
These tools provide you with templates that you can use and are tailored for special cases. For example, you can create skills to make a multiple-choice quiz or joke skills very easily, but there is no way to add additional functionality.
These tools let you create the flow of your dialog like a process. Depending on the user’s actions, different responses or actions are triggered.
“Plug and Play” tools
This is the tool that we provide – we think it’s great ☺. We built it with simplicity and speed in mind. It allows you to enter questions, answers, and business hours quickly. It only takes 15 minutes to get set up on Alexa Skills using Olelo and you can choose from ## questions to answer, based on the type of business you operate.
Witlingo previously offered a skill-building tool, but they have shifted towards being a social audio community. Here is a 4-minute video about the Witlingo platform as it used to be:
TrueReply offers more flexibility and tons of features – which in turn makes it a little less simple to use. You can see the CEO of TrueReply building a skill here:
If you have technical skills and are looking for a robust option, this might be the best pick for you. Pricing starts at $64/month.
VoiceXP is easy to use, but lacks transparency. Pricing starts at $29/month.
Be warned: they offer the service, “Register Your Voice Domain Name,” insisting that “voice domains” must be reserved. This just is not the case currently.
VoiceDuck offers basic functionality, but it is hard to use and did not work for us at the time of writing this post. Pricing starts at $15/month.
Yelda uses modules like “Smart FAQ,” “Customer Care,” and “E-Commerce”. It looks like an easy-to-use option, but unfortunately there is no information about pricing nor an easy-to-access trial available as of writing this post. You can, however, ask for a demo.
Different from the other providers of “plug and play” tools, USU is an older company with many different products and services; building voicebots is just one of them. If you are a big company looking for a more robust option, USU may be a great fit for you. Note: you have to contact them to get a demo.
VoiceAtlas allows you to create questions and answers; a collection of questions is called an “Atlas”. Atlases can be integrated in different tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Workplace from Facebook. There is an Alexa skill that collects all the public atlases. VoiceAtlas is not focused on voice, and you won’t have your own skill as with the other tools.
Creating a skill with Ipervox seems somewhat complicated. Our team struggled to find out what we needed to complete the process. Creating a skill for Amazon worked, but we couldn’t figure out how to create a question and respective answer. There are technical aspects that the user needs experience in.
Amazon Alexa BlueprintsVisit Amazon Alexa Blueprints
From their website: "In Skill Blueprints, you can use templates to create your own personal Alexa skill in minutes. Using blueprints, you can create custom games, unique stories, or household lists. For example, you can write a trivia skill about your family and say, ‘Alexa, open My Family Trivia’ to play it whenever you like.
Currently, there are over 70 blueprints available. If they fit your use case, that’s the easiest way to get started but if your user case isn’t met, there is not much that you can do about it.
VoiceFlow is by far the most known tool on this list. They offer a lot of flexibility, but you have to invest some time to understand the technical aspects. They have a large community and lots of documentation to read through. Large companies and agencies use it to quickly prototype skills without having to code anything.
TWIST by EarRealityVisit TWIST by EarReality
Disclaimer: TWIST is the “brother” of Olelo – it’s built by the same guys (Yep, that’s us).
TWIST is serving exactly one purpose: if you want to tell an interactive story where the user makes the decisions and influences the outcome of the story, TWIST is for you! In addition to publishing your story on Alexa, you can go for Google, a web player, or even a Kindle eBook.
Amazon Skill Flow BuilderVisit Amazon Skill Flow Builder
From their website: “Skill Flow Builder development suite helps you create narrative-driven skills more quickly. Designers and writers can use Skill Flow Builder to quickly prototype and modify content. In parallel, developers can build differentiated features and minimize time spent on content changes.”
Amazon Skill Flow Builder is the most complicated tool in this blog post and you should have development knowledge if you plan to use it.
You also have the option to create a complete custom skill from scratch. We cover this in another post – “How to create Alexa skills” – but we would advise you to choose one of the approaches/tools mentioned here first – you can always try to do something fancier later.
What do you think? We are happy to hear from you. This is a living post, so we will update it with new information regularly.