Option A: Respond just as a parent would, perhaps a bit pithily.
“Alexa, set an alarm.”
“I didn’t hear the magic word…”
Imagine getting this response at 11 p.m. when you’re preparing for bed. How would you feel? Or, perhaps, when trying to set a time-out timer for your child in the heat of the moment. Would being corrected for lack of politeness when trying to discipline a child really help solve the problem?
Option B: Complete the action, but add some reinforcement.
“Alexa, set an alarm for 7 a.m. tomorrow.”
“Your alarm is set for 7 a.m. tomorrow. By the way, it makes me happy when you say ‘please’.”
Less immediately annoying, but preachy. Can you honestly say this wouldn’t irritate you, and perhaps elicit a negative response in front of the kids we’re supposed to be teaching?
Option C: Swing towards positive reinforcement.
“Alexa, please set an alarm for 7AM tomorrow.”
“Your alarm is set for 7AM tomorrow. Thanks for asking so politely!”
Today’s prompts would remain as is, but successful use of the word “please” in appropriate scenarios could result in a more pleasing exchange. Naturally, we’d want to vary the “pleasing” responses so they don’t get too repetitive, since we’re trying to encourage more frequent use of Please.
Option D: Go abstract, and mirror the brusqueness of impolite speech.
“Alexa, set an alarm for tomorrow at 7 a.m.”
“Fine, your alarm is set.”
While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this approach since it’s a bit of a user experience regression, the lack of politeness means the system is less forthcoming with information. If you want the full confirmation (“Your alarm is set for 7 p.m. tomorrow”), you need to be polite about it.
So what’s the right approach? There’s no silver bullet; it probably depends not only on your assistant’s tone and demeanor, but your brand and the context of use. And of course, there are likely many other ways to attack this problem. But all four of these options run up against repetitiveness, especially if applied to all requests.