Why does Apple, with all its reserves, invest in voices for Siri that are far below the sophistication of their technology?
The Siri voice sounds a bit put off by my questions. “Why are you bothering me?” is the subtle message between the lines of the voice of Siri on my iPhone 6 Plus. At other times Siri’s responses sounds robotic…very unhuman.
This “between the lines” subtext we can gather from Siri’s vocal delivery conveys a lot. So, sometimes it’s as if I told Siri to drive into a wall and Siri snaps back “Yes. I am blind. Whatever you say stupid human.”
Both these examples are far from the warm user experience Apple would like to create.
Here’s a pop quiz for you. What if you walked into an Apple store and the friendly person in the blue t-shirt blurted out responses that matched Siri’s vocal persona? You turn around and walk out. Computerized voices need to have that warmth we crave from our fellow humans. Not the gooey warmth of a salesperson, just real human understanding, empathy and helpfulness.
What’s a vocal persona? A vocal persona is person behind the words. For example, text messages arrive without a persona imbedded in their transmission. Unless the person added a smiley face or “no worries” to the end.
But in vocal communications, the vocal persona is the subtext that carries a lot of the meaning in the verbal transaction. My wife can say, “Yes, dear.” in a number of ways. The vocal persona fills in the subtext.
For example, “Yes, dear (you complete fool)” “Yes, dear (you darling for remembering our anniversary).” “Yes, dear (if ask me again I’ll burn dinner.”
Aside from the quality and texture of her voice she can imbed additional warmth, empathy, bitterness, apathy etc. into the same two words.
Fletcher Murray – President of The Association
In our voice casting to find the perfect voice for IBM, Chrysler, Cadillac, Geico, Alpine, Honda, Acura, Visteon, or deCarta we go the extra mile to find a perfect vocal persona that matches our client’s technology, not just somebody who can read lines without making mistakes. We use a 14 column voice characteristics evaluation form to rank our candidates.
This voice IS the product. This voice IS the product to the consumer. That’s all they have to go by in their interaction with the product/company. And all the thousands of hours to develop, debug, and perfect the technology behind the product, rides on the human interaction of the technology’s voice and the human user.
Is that going to be a positive experience the consumer looks forward to enjoying or is it a neutral experience or is it a negative experience?
We try to find a voice that will insure that consumer interaction is “insanely great”. That was the bar that Steve Jobs set for Apple. It’s the bar we strive to clear with our voice casting and recordings – find the perfect voice match for the product and then voice coach her into being an astounding experience for the end user. It’s the bar every product should strive for.
The consumer IS listening.
(Fletcher Murray has been finding and recording voices for computerized voice systems for over 14 years. CLICK HERE for more info.)