When Toni Reid, Amazon . com Inc.’s vice president of Alexa experience and Echo devices, sent hundreds of staffers home in early March to work remotely, she had her husband buy a standing desk for their house the next day.
“I knew we were in this for the long run,” she said.
Ms. Reid’s job overseeing the consumer experience for one of Amazon’s most popular product lines gives her unique insight into just how many people have embraced staying in during the coronavirus era.
Her staff raced to build new skills into Alexa, the virtual assistant in Echo devices, to give consumers coronavirus safety tips and information about its spread, the same way they teach Alexa to tell jokes and read the news. And people’s interactions with Alexa changed as the pandemic progressed, with more turning to Alexa for at-home exercise tips and recipes. The sheer volume of customers using Alexa-enabled devices jumped 65% from a year earlier between April and June.
Ms. Reid spoke with The Wall Street Journal by phone from her home in Seattle. Here are edited excerpts.