Planning and designing voice applications

The creation of a logic flowchart should be part of the first phase of application design. Putting effort into the initial detailed planning and design makes application development using the Blueworx Voice Response user interface easy. It cannot be stressed too strongly, however, that you need both a good understanding of the business requirements of the application and a logical and methodical way of working with the voice application components.

An example flowchart is shown inFigure 1 .

Figure 1. Example flowchart for a voice application that accepts key input
This flowchart shows the design of a voice application so that it can handle different options according to the input from the caller. The first check is to see if the caller has a pushbutton phone. If so, a menu of services is then offered, and different actions can be started according to which key the caller presses. For example, pressing key 1 might prompt for a bank account number, which is checked and a balance read back to the caller. The logic of the flowchart also allows for error handling if an incorrect key is pressed, plus an exit sequence when the caller presses the appropriate key from the menu.

To design the most effective voice applications you need an awareness of both the caller and the business requirements. You also need an aptitude for programming.

Remember that design of the dialog is equivalent to screen design and interaction in a traditional online application. For some callers, interacting with a voice application is a new experience, and the benefits of Blueworx Voice Response can be gained only if you take particular care with your user interaction design.

Application design also requires a knowledge of the databases that contain the information. If you are providing voice messaging, you must be able to forecast how much space will be needed by the messages.

After you have analyzed your business requirements, you need to design and create a prototype. You can create a flow chart like the one shown in Figure 1. When you have done that, you are ready to design your state table, one state at a time. Finally, you need to design the prompts before recording the voice segments that the application needs.