Friday, September 17, 2021

Kiosk Voices from Hell

I don’t mind using those kiosks — where did that word come from?! — at grocery stores and pharmacies, especially when buying just a few things. 

It’s quick and easy: swipe, bag, swipe, bag, pay with credit card, out the door ... easy peezy.

But the voices on these things are the absolute worst.

“Welcome valued customer!” 

Who doesn’t love to hear that, especially from a robot voice? Nothing says “valued customer” like an impersonal interaction with a synthesized voice.

Too loud, too. Stop shouting at me, I’m right here. Did you think I was 20 feet away? How could I scan the merchandise from way over there? 

And the urgent lecturing tone:

“Please place scanned item in the bagging area!” ... 

“Scan your frequent buyer card or enter the number on the keypad!”

Is it Boot Camp? How did I end up at Boot Camp?

Let’s dial down the marching orders just a bit so I don’t feel like I’m at Boot Camp. Try something soothing and helpful. Since, you know, I’m a paying customer, and this is a robot we’re talking about. 

And why female voices, yelling and ordering us around? You know the geniuses behind these things did a bunch of research to determine the voice’s gender plus the right volume, bass vs. treble balance, and all manner of other attributes. 

My question: are female voices that issue orders in loud, urgent, lecturing tones preferred to male voices that issue orders in loud, urgent, lecturing tones? 

I’m thinking the loud, urgent, lecturing tone issue might be getting in the way, either way. 

How about using a voice modeled on, say, Marilyn Monroe? Breathless and a near whisper? 

Sexy as hell. Did anyone think of that? Sexy kiosk voices? 

Women would probably hate the Marilyn Monroe voice though, and prefer someone like Tom Selleck. I don’t know, figure it out, geniuses.

So allow it as a choice when you walk up to the thing. 

Replace the “Scan or swipe to begin” on-screen prompt with “Choose your sexy voice and let’s do this!”.

You’re welcome.