Njiuko & Comdirect
Consistently at the forefront of innovation, comdirect engaged Njiuko to develop a voice assistant skill for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant that would enable users to query stock prices and exchange rates in real time. Phrase presented itself as the ideal platform for the new voice service. Not only can Phrase manage answers from voice assistants easily, it also helps comdirect accelerate the release cycle and significantly improve the overall language quality of the tool.
Managing JSON files
After the 2017 holiday season, no one can doubt the enormous – and growing – popularity of voice assistant technology. Amazon reported that its Echo Dot voice-controlled device was the best selling product from any manufacturer in any category, and tens of millions of Alexa enabled devices were sold worldwide. Google Assistant is also stepping up its game, with an especially strong appearance at the latest CES tech show. Smart homes and smart cars are rapidly gaining traction, and it’s clear that consumers are hungry for voice assistants.
Aiming to satisfy this new demand, and deliver the best possible service to its customers, comdirect bank set its sights on building its own voice “skill” for Alexa and Google Assistant. This tool would enable users to check stock prices and stock market-related news, allowing users to save their favorite searches as well. To make its vision a reality, comdirect engaged Njiuko – a leading Hamburg-based software manufacturer – to develop the voice assistants.
When it came to building the application, Njiuko’s main priority was finding a tool to manage the answers of the voice assistants.
Norman Timmler, Managing Director of Njiuko, explains: “We needed a way to file every answer in one tool and get rid of hardcoded texts in our codebase. This isn’t something that a traditional CMS is equipped for, so we knew that we had to think outside the box.”
Additionally, Njiuko hoped to find a way to add variety to the voice assistant responses, so that it would sound more natural and not simply repeat the same phrases every time it was used. And crucially, Njiuko wanted to enable comdirect’s marketing staff to manage and update the tool themselves, without developer assistance.
Njiuko soon realized that Phrase could be the ideal solution to the voice assistant challenge.
“We’d been using Phrase exclusively for more than four years for localization,” says Norman Timmler. “It’s been an indispensable tool thanks to its powerful features, user-friendly interface, and its support for a wide variety of formats. And it occurred to us that Phrase can come to the rescue to manage voice assistant answers.”
It took Njiuko just two days to integrate Phrase into the voice tool workflow, and it was a perfect fit. Now, when the voice assistant answer is created it can be easily looked up in Phrase.
For the voice assistant responses, the tool takes advantage of Phrase’s key and value-based source code management. Each category of response has its own key, where numerous interchangeable phrases and sentences can be edited at one go. For example, when the voice service needs to confirm that it has received the user’s request, it would use the ‘CONFIRM’ key. This key corresponds to an array of potential responses, such as “Okay”, “All right”, or “Yes, I can do that”.
Christian Wendrock-Prechtl, Senior Vice President User Interface at comdirect, comments: “The response variety is extremely important to us. It significantly improves the overall language quality of the tool; it sounds more natural, which makes it much more engaging for our customers.”
What’s more, Phrase’s intuitive UI is so straightforward to use that comdirect’s non-technical marketing employees can easily add to and modify the keys without assistance from Njiuko’s developers.
Importing or downloading locales and interacting with localization data in various ways through Phrase’s powerful API enables extensive workflow automation and facilitates easier collaboration. It is how Phrase is doing what it does best on top of the voice assistant integration – saving time and boosting productivity for Njiuko and comdirect.
Easy to use and improve
With Phrase powering its service, comdirect is enjoying a considerable head start in the new and competitive voice assistant landscape. As the launch partner for Amazon Echo and Actions on Google in Germany, comdirect is the country’s first bank to offer a voice assistant for the stock market.
“The voice service recognizes over 10,000 stocks”, says Christian Wendrock-Prechtl. “Whether they’re in a car or at the breakfast table, our customers can now query real-time market prices hands-free.”
The voice service is proving to be highly popular; and thanks to Phrase’s ease-of-use and process automation, comdirect can iterate rapidly and push out frequent updates to improve the service.
“We’re saving up to 2 days per release as a result of Phrase,” confirms Christian Wendrock-Prechtl.
Njiuko has also been able to transfer full control of the voice service over to comdirect. At first, Njiuko’s engineers had to provide ongoing support to keep the tool running and up-to-date; now, the bank can easily manage the entire service and add new content through the intuitive Phrase UI.
Norman Timmler concludes: “Phrase is part of our end-to-end process in every project we undertake. Thanks to its smart features and format versatility, it’s been our central tool in making the voice assistant case happen for comdirect.”
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