Hydro Ottawa leverages video, Amazon Alexa to deliver compelling outage communications

By Russ Henderson, Research Manager –

Accuracy is important. When an outage takes place, customers want to know when their power will be restored.

But getting the correct information to customers is only part of effective outage communications.

Dan Seguin, Manager, Media and Public Affairs at Hydro Ottawa

“You have to build up those ‘love miles’ with the customer before the outage happens, so that when it does happen, they are going to be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt,” said Dan Seguin, media and public affairs manager at Hydro Ottawa. “Customers want to feel like they are part of a conversation.”

Bringing customers into the conversation means meeting them where they are and providing information proactively, and in a compelling way.

In 2017, responding to customers’ increasing preference for prompt, personalized outage information, Hydro Ottawa embarked on a journey to modernize its outage communications channels. The utility chose to invest in social media and video, a mobile app, and virtual assistants such as the Amazon Alexa.

Hydro Ottawa increased the resources allocated to social customer care and hired a videographer who could quickly be deployed to the scene of an outage, often releasing video of restoration work in under an hour. To better accommodate customers’ increasing preference for mobile-friendly solutions, Hydro Ottawa launched a new mobile app in May 2017 and is working to make its outage data, including estimated times of restoration, discoverable on virtual assistants.

The visual experience can create an emotional connection with the customer, Seguin said. A single video that educates customers about outages, if it is fun and interesting, can do more to establish a relationship with customers than any number of push alerts sent after an outage takes place. Video is an effective tool for many kinds of communication, not just outage communications. A recent drone video at Chaudière Falls, where Hydro Ottawa has six run-of-the-river hydroelectric generation plants, has garnered more than 36,000 views.

Hydro Ottawa took home Chartwell’s 2018 Silver Award in Outage Communications among mid-sized utilities for its efforts.  Join us Dec. 19 for Hydro Ottawa’s webinar Increasing Customer Engagement with Enhanced Outage Communications Channels to learn how Hydro Ottawa’s communications improvement efforts have increased customer engagement along with its customer credibility and trust rankings.

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