Voice is ready for business: What we’ve learned from the first few months of voice-first time-tracking

3 min read

At Tali, we’re a product-focused organization, which means we are more than mildly obsessed with our users and how we can solve everyday problems. This obsession isn’t anything new for us—it’s an approach we’ve taken since day one, before we even had a product. After all, why build something that people aren’t going to use or get value from?

We started with a simple hypothesis: We thought that by using voice, people could track their time more easily and more efficiently throughout the day.

Before even building a product, we tested our hypothesis with user interviews. We had coffee with lawyers in Portland, Oregon; early morning phone calls with New York-based attorneys; and even sat in people’s offices as a voice assistant, where we pretended to be Alexa for a day. These user interactions confirmed our hypothesis: existing time-tracking options are a real pain, and using voice has the potential to be much easier.

But could we really solve users’ problems with Tali? Here are some of the things we’ve learned in launching and iterating our first voice product.

Key Learning #1: Tali delivers value

We built Tali so that our users could capture more of their billable time with less effort. The value is twofold: 1) by using a voice-first approach, users can capture more time, and 2) by integrating with existing systems, users can save time on data entry.

Wondering how we’ve done? Now that Tali is in the hands of users, we can measure Tali’s effectiveness. Here’s what we’ve found:

  • Tali helps you do a better job of timekeeping. Users like Jonathan Udoka, an Oklahoma attorney, have reported a 30% increase in the billable time they capture.
  • Tali makes timekeeping easier. You can create a time entry with Tali in just 10 seconds, without even opening your laptop. This same task can take 3 minutes or more with other methods.
  • Tali helps you save your time for what matters most. Users that leverage one of our third-party practice management integrations, which currently include Clio, Rocket Matter, and Practice Panther, now spend 75% less time on the administrative task of time tracking and time entry.

Key Learning #2: Tali should support voice AND text conversations

We initially developed Tali as an Amazon Alexa skill for a smart speaker device, like the Amazon Echo. We found users really liked having an Echo Dot on their desk, but they wanted more—Tali on the go and in places where talking to an assistant just didn’t fit.

Just months after we first released Tali, we put together another major release for Google Assistant, allowing users to go mobile and have text conversations.

  • Go mobile: You can now use Tali on-screen through your mobile device or tablet. We’ve added Google Assistant, which delivers a great mobile experience through Android, iPhone, or iPad. This allows users to use Tali wherever they go.
  • “Talk” with your thumbs: If you’re in a crowded elevator on your way to a meeting, you may not want to speak out loud to track your time. This is where Google Assistant comes in handy, and we are in the process of building out ways to deliver text conversations, like Slack (work chat) and SMS text messaging to support the variety of ways you can use your thumbs to chat and interact with Tali.

Our next experiment: Activity insights and richer conversations

When you first set up Tali, it’s easiest to think of it as a replacement for dictation: Tali captures your time entries in three steps: Say it, See it, and Send it.

But we think we can do more. A real assistant doesn’t just wait passively for you to call out. A good assistant will see you’re having a big day and encourage you to keep going. The ideal time-tracking assistant notices you haven’t recorded anything all morning and checks in to see if you’ve missed anything.

And that’s where our next big hypothesis comes in. We think the next opportunity with Tali is to develop our end of the conversation.

Tali is meant to be your time-tracking assistant, a sidekick that rides with you throughout the day.

Like Robin did for Batman, Tali should be there for you to help you get your job done, and that means having a back-and-forth dialogue, not a one-sided conversation.

We’ve launched our first experiment for Tali-initiated conversation with a daily Tali Update for Google Assistant. We are going to look at whether users who get updates are more likely to be active and to stick with it on a daily basis in the days, weeks, and months that follow.

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Want to help us test daily update conversations? Look for the option just after you finish a Tali conversation in Google Assistant, then choose the time of day you want to receive your Tali Update. You’ll get a notification on your phone that you can open to see a summary of your day or week.

 

I recommend setting up an update for when you start your day or at mid-day.

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We’re hoping that Tali’s end of the conversation is both informative and motivating, and we’ll be testing that hypothesis in the coming months, making Tali’s role richer and more useful.

In just a few months since launching our product, we’ve learned an incredible amount from our early adopters, the folks we’ve affectionately named “Tali pioneers.” This learning will never stop, and it shouldn’t, as no product is or ever will be perfect. Thank you to all our current pioneers that have helped us get Tali to where it is today, and thank you to all our future pioneers that will help us bring Tali to the next level! Onward and upward! 🚀