AEP has an interest in utilizing voice assistant devices to enhance the customer experience, reach customers in a new channel, and position AEP as an innovative company.
RESEARCH
How do we manage stakeholder assumptions in a new technology space?
At the beginning of this project there were many stakeholder assumptions diving the feature set of this new channel. Our team advocated for the opportunity to conduct a contextual inquiry and ethnography study in order to test those assumptions. 
A contextual inquiry and ethnographic study was conducted in the homes of nine AEP customers in the greater Columbus area. 
Our team included a moderator and two note takers. We went into the homes of nine AEP customers to see how they have incorporated voice assistant devices into their everyday lives. They also shared with us how they would expect to interact with their voice devices in the context of their electric accounts. 
ANALYSIS
Our team conducted an affinity mapping session once research was complete in order to analyze the results. 
The affinity mapping exercise informed the structure of our research document that we presented and shared with stakeholders and cross functional partners. The results of this study changed the feature priority of the voice assistant channel. 
PERSONA SELECTION
After meeting with actual AEP customers we were able to start defining our target customers. 
AEP has done research that defines their customer segments. Our team grouped the participants that we met with in our study into those groups based on specific predefined characteristics. This allowed us to define who our target customers should be as well as inform our persona selection. 
NEW TECHNOLOGY
Not much is known about this technology space so it was important for the team to norm around terms and technology structure. 
At the start of the project the entire team got together to discuss the technology space we would be working in. We discussed what the proper terms we should be using are and the what the structure is when interacting with this technology. 
INTERFACE DESIGN
How do we design for a technology that does not have a physical interface? 
In voice technology the luxury of visual affordances are gone. Since this technology is still new it is important to be explicit with how you can use it. For every new feature the team spent time diagraming a flow of business logic and conversation structure. 
USABILITY TESTING
How do we structure usability tests for voice devices?
Structuring a usability test for voice devices was a unique challenge. Our team has used several methods depending on the viability of our test environment. We evaluated our testing methods almost as much as the actual experience in this process.
We started with Wizard of Oz testing where one of our team members simulated the conversation experience with their own voice. Once we had more features coded we moved to testing with the actual device. 
SHARE THE KNOWLEDGE
I had the opportunity to share what I have learned internally and with the local Columbus tech and UX community. 
It is important to me to share what I have learned in this space because so much about it is still being established. Not only do I enjoy speaking, but I also had the opportunity to learn from others in this space and bring that knowledge back to my team. 
VOICE ONBOARDING
How do we keep our customers in the voice channel after we send them to their phones?
In order to link their electric accounts to their voice device, our customers would have to log in through their phones. It was very important to me to capture our customers in this process and give them examples of what they can do with their new skill. 
MARKETING
How can user experience impact marketing plans?
During the course of our user research we were able to find out how people like to learn about new features in this technology space. Our team also defined what types of customers would be most likely to already have or adopt this new technology. 
We communicated to the marketing team that they should target specific customer segments and put their energy into social media and youtube tutorials. They also reached out to me when they were ready to being crafting marketing emails like the one below. 
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