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How to Leverage Smart Speakers, AI, and Voice Technology in Customer Service for Utilities

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Highlights from AESP Webinar on How to Leverage Smart Speakers, AI and Voice Technology in Customer Service for Utilities.  Speakers Eric Sauve, Speebly.com and David Ricottone, Hydro Ottawa

I appreciate that we don’t all have 40 minutes to spare on an energy lecture, so please allow me to summarize and give you the highlights from a recent webinar hosted by Eric Sauve, CEO of speebly.com, and David Ricottone from Hydro Ottawa.

Both Eric and David specialize in applications, and it’s interesting to hear their insights on what the future of AI and voice technology has to offer. Just like almost every other industry, the energy sector is making strong use of voice technology and AI. In the webinar, we learn about how voice assistants are able to check energy rates and account balances (among other things); this is very important when you consider that more than 44% of people use home assistants such as Google Home or Siri. As you can imagine, a lot of basic phone calls to energy-based phone numbers can easily be answered using AI.

Oh, and you know how you always get asked for permission to have your phone calls recorded for quality and training purposes (or something to that effect)? Well, it turns out that it’s not just support staff who get training. As it turns out, AI needs training, too, and what better way to train an AI than to use genuine conversations relating to the task at hand?

We’ve already seen Google unleash Duplex into the world, and it seems the energy sector has its own solutions when it comes to voice technology. The technology that helps enhance the accuracy of voice detection is known as machine learning. Such software can even pick up blind spots that human operators and supervisors might have missed.

The app mentioned within the webinar also goes into detail about reducing electricity usage as well as being able to stay in the loop regarding power outages. Another use of voice technology is the deployment of smart speakers such as Alexa and Google Home, which I’m sure you’ve heard of already (if you don’t already own one). With more than 150 million combined units sold, we have reached a new paradigm when it comes to home smart speaker systems.

How does this affect the energy industry at large?

As you can imagine, the world of voice technology will revolutionize the phone service industry (if you can’t say that about it already). Voice technology is a win–win scenario for both corporations and consumers. On the one hand, corporations can save on phone operator costs; on the other hand, customers will experience shorter wait times as well smarter AI that will more effectively solve your issues. However, it’s likely that there will be job lay-offs insofar as phone support is concerned. I don’t personally foresee a complete obliteration of this job type, but it’s undeniable that more simplistic jobs will be rendered obsolete through the use AI-based voice technology.

Economic factors aside, there is no doubt in my mind that advanced voice technology, through machine learning and otherwise, will streamline not only energy services but also the services industry as a whole.

If this is the kind of thing you’d like to learn more about, why not check out the webinar? If you’re short on time, you can always skip to the parts that interest you.

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