Hydro Ottawa A Voice for Progress
AS THE POPULARITY of voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home continue to soar—sales in the past year alone were more than double the previous year— so do the expectations of their owners. No longer content to ask their smart speakers to simply play their favourite music, turn down the lights or turn up the heat, users want them to serve as a smart hub for their homes and their lives. They expect—and increasingly demand—voice access to an ever-expanding selection of products and services.
Not surprisingly, businesses have been quick to recognize and tap into the enormous potential of smart audio.
None more quickly than Hydro Ottawa. It is the first utility in Canada to offer a voice assistant skill.
“Anyone shopping during the last holiday season could not help but see this huge demand for smart audio devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant,” says Julie Lupinacci, the Chief Customer Officer for Hydro Ottawa. “They were flying off the shelves. So when our customer service team met after the holidays, we agreed that it would be a good idea to explore how Hydro Ottawa might use smart audio to further enhance the experience of our customers.”
Virtual assistants are gaining impressive market share and becoming an essential way consumers choose to communicate. Already, Google reports 20 per cent of mobile searches are done by voice.
Today, Hydro Ottawa customers who have downloaded the smart speaker skill can use Alexa and Google Assistant to find out how much electricity they’ve consumed and what they can do to reduce their use of electricity in the future. Those who want—or need—a reminder about when their next bill is due, can simply consult Alexa. Those Hydro Ottawa customers interested in being even more cost-efficient can ask when it’s best to do the laundry or run the dishwasher.
Although the relationship between voice audio and Hydro Ottawa is in its infancy, Lupinacci is convinced it will be a long and successful one. “An increasing number of our customers appreciate the convenience of being able to obtain information and receive advice solely by speaking to a personal voice-enabled assistant.”
Hydro Ottawa is committed to providing its customers with increased choice, convenience, control and communication. “Once we inform all of our customers that we’ve made this service available—and they see the benefits available to them—I think we’ll have met all of those goals,” she says.
As for the future, Hydro Ottawa customers will determine how far the company takes its relationship with voice-enabled devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
“The adjustment period may take a while,” says Lupinacci, “just like it did when we first offered paperless billing or mobile apps. But we believe, and I’m convinced that our customers believe, that smart audio will succeed. After all, by increasing customer access to personalized and actionable energy insights, it saves them money and energy.”
Downloading the Hydro Ottawa Smart Speaker Skill is simple and straightforward. Just visit hydroottawa.com/smart-speakers and follow the instructions.