A familiar sight (in at least one backyard that MediaPost knows about) is the frustrated homeowner sitting cross-legged on the grass, nervously reading the lawnmower manual.
But Alexa's now coming to the rescue.
Briggs & Stratton, which says it's the world’s largest manufacturer of gasoline engines for outdoor equipment, announced Briggs Engine Expert, a new Alexa skill for weekend warriors who have limited skills in gas- and oil-powered things.
After downloading, the Alexa app will explain how much and what kind of oil to use on mowers, providing step-by-step instruction on how to perform an oil change. It then gives the information to Alexa so she’ll always know the kind of oil you’ll need. (Ideally, Alexa would like you to buy it from Amazon.)
This is Phase 1. “We’re discussing other maintenance tasks we can incorporate, other pieces of Briggs-powered equipment, as well as seasonal information that would be helpful for homeowners,” says a spokeswoman.
A video could be next.
“Thinking about the Amazon Echo Show makes a lot of sense to us, as the types of content do lend themselves to video,” she said. The company already offers advice on YouTube, and has unofficial help from many backyard DIYers.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to change oil on a lawnmower but, apparently, many people aren’t even close to becoming rocket scientists.
"About eight million people visit our website and more than 400,000 people call our customer support line each year seeking information, and questions about oil are the most frequent inquiries,” says Carissa Gingras, director of marketing, global support for Milwaukee-based Briggs & Stratton. “So launching our Briggs Engine Expert Skill with information about oil for walk mowers was a no-brainer."
Gingras says there are 62.5 million Briggs & Stratton engines on many different brands. Eight out of ten of the top-selling mowers use its engines, while there’s another set of users for other outdoor power equipment. So there are lots of variations.
For Alexa, the company has simplified questions down to two: 1)What kind of equipment are you using (a lawnmower or a snow blower?)? 2) Where do you live? From that, the company can advise on what type oil is best. (People who live in areas with weather extremes need different viscosity.)
“With 100 million Alexas out there, we’ll be learning a lot from consumers,” Gingras says. “The data will be invaluable. Depending on the other questions they ask, we’ll learn what other problems they have.”
She says the company is aiming at customers and “especially millennials,” who are turning to Alexa at an “extraordinary pace."
Briggs & Stratton certainly isn’t alone. Just this week Husqvarna introduced its own Alexa Skill app for owners of its $2,000 robotic Automower.