The next evolution in customer care: “Okay Google, open Hydro Ottawa”

Hydro Ottawa becomes first utility in Canada to adopt the new technology
Smart speakers

The popularity of voice-activated digital assistants has taken off in an unprecedented way.

Early on in 2018, market trends and research suggested that one in six Americans owned a voice-activated smart speaker. Recent reports show that this number has in fact doubled to 32 per cent, with surveys suggesting it will reach the 50 per cent mark by the end of 2018. While the numbers aren’t exactly the same in Canada where access to smart speakers is still in its infancy, the adoption rates are comparable – and show no signs of slowing.

Users are no longer content with simply listening to music or making use of “smart home” functions, they want them to serve as a smart hub for their homes and their lives. As a result,
businesses have been quick to tap into the enormous potential of smart audio.

Hydro Ottawa was one of these businesses quick to embrace the new technology, and is the first utility in Canada to offer a voice assistant skill. The Hydro Ottawa skill is available for Amazon Alexa and Google Home, and can assist customers with a range of tasks such as providing an update on their current bill and offering tips on how to conserve electricity.

“Customers are really driving the decisions that Hydro Ottawa is making from a service standpoint,” says Julie Lupinacci, the utility’s chief customer officer. In recent years, Hydro Ottawa has also extended its service hours, launched a mobile app and grown its social media presence to better engage with customers.

“We want to be able to provide them with choice and convenience,” she says.

The skill provides customers with access to Hydro Ottawa 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the billing information it shares is always up-to-date. The growth and evolution in customer service is a direct result of what customers want.

“Not every single customer wants to talk to us during traditional business hours,” says Lupinacci.

The new smart audio skill provides customers with an alternative option for interacting with Hydro Ottawa. With Alexa and Google Assistant accessible not only on smart speakers but on smart phones and tablets, customers can access information anywhere, anytime.

For those customers who don’t wish to spend time on the phone speaking with a Hydro Ottawa agent, the new smart audio feature will enable a wholly new, streamlined customer service

“Customer service, to me, has become the pinnacle of importance for any organization, including Hydro Ottawa,” says Lupinacci.

The Hydro Ottawa smart speaker skill is free to install. Although it is currently only available in English, Lupinacci says there are plans to add a French version once Amazon Alexa expands its language options.

Learn more about the Hydro Ottawa smart speaker skill and how to enable it at