In an always-on, ever-connected world, customer service hasn’t become irrelevant, it’s become vital.

Customer service is an ever-changing facet of business that utilities must not only contend with but stay ahead of the curve . It wasn’t that long ago that customers were heading to brick and mortar stores to shop or driving to service counters to pay their utility bill.  Now, technology has kicked customer service into overdrive with the internet, cloud computing and mobile devices converging to create high expectations.

Savvy business leaders know that customers are dictating where and when they want to be served. The idea of only being able to shop online or access Google between the hours of 9 to 5 is unfathomable. Customers now expect similar access to all businesses that they interact with – including their local hydro utility. To stay ahead of the pack, utilities must watch trends and technological developments and determine how they will impact the customer service scene.

As the evolution of customer service continues, the next “big thing” is the use of chatbots and voice-activated digital assistants. Canada has seen many early adopters of smart speakers, and as with all new technology, those numbers continue to climb. In fact, research has suggested that the adoption rates for smart speakers are already outpacing smartphones and tablets.

Smart speakers make use of  voice-activated digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. These assistants make use of a multitude of skills available to provide users with the information they seek.

Whether asking for news briefs or the weather, or even doing some online shopping, many companies are working to create skills to leverage this exciting new technology.

Hydro Ottawa is now the first utility in Canada to develop a skill for Alexa and Google Assistant. The new skill is available for use with both Amazon and Google smart speakers, but can also be accessed through the Alexa and Google Assistant apps on smartphones and tablets. Customers can access information about their own electricity bill, along with conservation tips, current electricity rates and outage information.

This is the next evolution in Hydro Ottawa’s customer service experience, allowing customers to determine how and when they want to access information. This is just one way we are focusing on customer value.

Learn more about Hydro Ottawa’s Smart Speaker here.