Voice in Mobile Apps: Paytm Travel
In this week’s ‘Voice in Mobile Apps’, we are breaking down the travel domain of one of India’s largest super app, Paytm. For the uninitiated, Slang Labs has started a new series called ‘Voice in Apps’. Every week we take an app which has integrated voice inside it and break it down. We are doing this because we think that it’s important to give recognition to the trendsetters and show how and why they are adding voice inside their apps and what is the result of it. We have already broken down ‘Gaana’ music streaming app by Times Internet and Youtube, the world’s largest video streaming app.
Have you noticed the little blue sticker stuck on the walls of shops, behind the seat of the autowaala or at the tapri near your office? Yep! You got it right. We are talking about Paytm, owned by One97 Communications. Paytm saw a growth of 150% in transactions between April 2017 and March 2018. Paytm once limited to Tier 1 towns has gone deep and spread its roots further into Bharat. Paytm has been adding more and more features to its app moving towards ‘One app does all’ or super-app model. This model has been tremendously successful with apps like Alipay, WeChat in China and Grab and Gojek in south-east Asia, doing it all from food deliveries to payments.
There is a fundamental problem with super apps, the more services that are added, the more complex the app gets. The video below shows how many services the Paytm app has right now, and how it cumbersome it is to find them.
Why is Bharat important for Paytm Travel?
According to Paytm’s Vice President and Head of Paytm Travel Abhishek Rajan, “The maximum growth will come from regional languages hopefully going forward with Paytm’s increasing penetration in tier-II and tier-III cities. The next set of users coming online are from regions where they are comfortable in their native languages. So the use of regional language will become higher than what it is today.”
Tier 3 cities and Tier 2 cities have seen a growth of nearly 100% and 75% in ticket booking by the use of regional languages. Paytm recently launch voice search for train booking witnessing this trend. They also noticed that people tried to type what they thought of. One such example Rajan gave was, people were typing Delhi ‘se’ Kanpur while searching.
Paytm Voice Search
Let’s look at how Paytm has enabled Voice search in their apps to reach the Next Billion Users from Bharat.
New User eXperience/ Onboarding people on voice
From the perspective of marketing, Paytm has been informing the users about Voice Search feature through periodic notification alert. Along with this, they also have a running banner on the homepage of the app. On the UI front, when a person comes on the train booking page, there are coach marks which explain the capabilities of the voice search. In addition to this, whenever the user clicks on the source and destination city, they see a mic button right next to the text field nudging user towards trying it out.
Voice Search UI
Mic button is placed next to the search field. On clicking the mic button, you hear a familiar ting, and it opens up a waveform UI which covers nearly half of the screen. It shows “Please say your source city/station name or code”. Even if you change the language of the app, the prompt remains in English.
A user can say origin station and destination station in one sentence with conjunctions in both English and Hind, e.g. ‘se’ and ‘to’. A user could also choose to give just the origin or the destination city one at a time.
The ability to say sentences with multiple entities (entities are variables in a sentence like a source and destination city) makes it more natural and allows the user to express the intent in the same way he/she is thinking.
No Voice to Action
Unlike Gaana or YouTube, which take some action like playing a song and seeing watch history on the voice search, Paytm doesn’t take a transactional action. Instead, it shows a drop-down list with the possible station matches where the user can select the closest match.
This approach is unconventional to what other companies like Gaana and YouTube have been taking. They believe in a voice to command model, at which point if the user has a clear intent, the action is taken, prioritising action over accuracy.
What’s still missing?
Ability to do the searches and navigation via voice in different Indian languages like Hindi and Tamil. With 400% YoY increase in Hindi searches, it is necessary to make the search at least bilingual.
Better NLP capabilities
The NLP capabilities of the voice search can be improved significantly. It will allow the users to speak free form sentences and ask to book tickets without being constraint by a boundary.
Slang allows you to add voice search in multiple Indian languages in a fraction of the time with inbuilt analytics to gauge how users are using it. It also gives businesses the ability to add more voice-enabled functions quickly to the app.