Hydro Ottawa brings rates, outage information, conservation tips and billing details to Amazon Alexa and Google Home
Hydro Ottawa is bringing rates, outage information, conservation tips and billing details to Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Hydro Ottawa delivers electricity to more than 328,000 homes in the Ottawa area.
Making the case for voice
The adoption of smart speaker technology has been staggering with Amazon Alexa speakers being the most sold item during the holiday season on Amazon.com. Hydro Ottawa wanted to leverage this new voice-first channel to provide conveniently accessible information to their customers.
Starting with the most common questions
While voice assistants can serve a range of use cases, it is important to start in a focused way. “We started with the most common questions from our customers” says David Ricottone, Manager, Web Applications. Hydro Ottawa chose to start with the following use cases:
“What is the current electricity price?”
“What is the peak rate time?”
“May I have a conservation tip?”
“Are there any power outages?”
“Contact Hydro Ottawa”
“What is my current balance?”
“How much was my last payment?”
“When is my next bill due?
Allowing customers to access billing information
Account balance and last payment information have been significant drivers of adoption for the Hydro website and mobile apps. Therefore, they wanted to also extend this to their voice assistant. They were able to link a customers’ Hydro account to their Amazon Alexa or Google Home accounts thus making this information available. For additional security, when customers ask for their billing information, they are prompted to answer specific questions to help verify their identity.
One agent, two speakers
In order to reach the broadest number of customers, Hydro Ottawa wanted to make their voice assistant available for both Amazon Alexa and Google Home. They creates a deployment strategy and architecture that allows both smart speaker platforms to leverage the same infrastructure while maintaining the convenience of being able to manage the system via the web.
Metrics, metrics, metrics
Every voice interaction is your customers telling you what they want. Hydro Ottawa was keen to leverage metrics tools including information on customer retention, poorly handled messages, customer pathways and more. “Metrics were an important consideration for our project to evaluate it but also improve it” says David.