ROLE: Designer/Developer
DATE: November 2017
URL: Enable the Skill
TOOLS: ASK, Lambda, S3, SSML, Node.js
World Map with Speech Bubbles

Although most of us carry a mobile phone these days, international dialing can be tricky. In the absence of operators (who used to supply the country codes and place the call for you), this makes a great use case for our Voice Assistants.

But I quickly discovered that Alexa needs the same contextual information a human operator would. Variables like the country you're dialing, where you're calling from, and whether you're using a landline or mobile phone, all shape the responses.

What I Did

I wanted the skill to be useful for both novice and pro users. As you can see in the flow diagram, I created 3 scenarios: country code lookup ("What is the country code for France?"); reverse lookup ("Which country has the dialing code 33?"); how to ("How do I call France?"). The last use case is interesting because the answer requires more info and a subsequent turn in the dialog ("Where are you calling from?")


As a result of making this skill, I learned more about useful responses. The key here was delivering brief info as an audio response, while sending futher details to the Alexa app. As you can see, the colorful cards serve as a handy reminder too. With the visual flag, and printed data - there are several triggers to aid recall in future.

Phonebooth is a published skill and is currently available in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, India, and Australia via the Alexa app. There's also a localized version in Germany and Austria.

Analyzing Native Experience Google Sheet with Sample Questions and Responses

Creatig Dialog Flows Diagram of Phonebooth flows.

Cards (from the UK version) Cards that appear in the Alexa app on device and on the web.

Matching Response to Novice v. Pro Code sample used to determine user familiarity with this skill.

Varied Phrases by Level Language strings for both new and experienced users.