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Using Voice to Transform Your Customer Engagement

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Shaina Kaye's picture
Senior Content Strategist, KSV

Shaina is the Senior Content Strategist at Kelliher Samets Volk (KSV), a full-service marketing and advertising agency focusing on sustainability with offices in New York and Vermont. KSV is...

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  • May 24, 2019

This item is part of the Utility Customer Care - Spring 2019, click here for more

The voice revolution is coming. But are energy companies ready?

The short answer is no.

Voice requires the support of new platforms, strategies, and content types. It offers an incredible opportunity for you to actually BE your customers’ trusted advisors—what you continually strive to be. But only if you take action.

So how does it work?

Voice assistants don’t just magically work to integrate your website content into voice-ready content; you have to build the content for voice first, which means you need the tools or platform or code base that will allow you to do that. You also need the expertise to understand what types of questions your customers might ask a voice assistant, so that you can contribute a helpful answer. And, of course, when it comes to customer interaction, you’re not looking for one-and-done questions and responses. You want to build sets of interactions that lead your customers both to the answers they seek and to what is most valuable for you as a brand.

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Voice also means you’ll have a whole new set of trackable metrics to offer your organization in terms of consumer engagement. In fact, Capgemini published a study that showed it’s not just the voice metrics that matter. Brands with voice assistants had a higher Net Promoter Score than those without—up to 25 points higher.

Simply being there when your customers ask a question via voice is only the beginning. We’re starting to see (and hear) ads that feature “Ask Alexa” as a part of the call to action, which isn’t surprising when you look at the anticipated growth of voice assistants over the next three years. Many industry authorities (such as Google and Forrester) predict that up to 75 percent of U.S. homes will have a smart speaker by 2020.

Some utilities are already building technology and content for voice assistants, and doing so in ways that add value to customer interactions.

Reliant is offering customers the chance to manage their account, forecast electricity charges, get help, and manage home automation through voice interactions.

Companies like Powerley and Ecotagious are thinking of the entire consumer experience and weaving energy management throughout all sorts of smart home activities—rather than interactions meant just for energy bills. They’re reading customers’ smart meter data to interpret energy use in a way that’s convenient, specific to customers, and related to homes in their community, while also allowing them to directly turn systems off and on via Alexa simultaneously.

We believe that the biggest strides will be made with creating voice-activated interactions (known as “skills”) that help notify customers of high energy use weeks (for example, reminders on Saturday morning similar to push notifications), personalized energy tips (for instance, “your dryer is using more energy than usual; try cleaning your filter”) and length of charge time for at-home EV chargers. These interactions will be seamlessly layered into your customers’ routines.

It’s not just wishful thinking to imagine that energy customers will use their voice assistants when it comes to energy usage and their utilities. KSV conducted a research study earlier in 2019 that found that people really do want to use their voice assistants to engage with their energy companies.

In a survey of 500 people across the United States, nearly 57 percent of respondents said they would be interested in a smart speaker that tells them how much energy any device in their home uses and how that impacts their bill. Sixty-one percent of respondents said they would be very interested or extremely interested in downloading a voice app for their smart speakers created by their utility. And 54 percent of respondents said that they would be very likely to use their smart speaker to tell them the cost of using appliances with time-of-use rates in effect.

The world is evolving and the ways to connect with consumers are changing yet again. Energy companies, and those who are interested in influencing the choices consumers make about energy, need to adapt along with the rest of the world. This is the next critical step to ensure that your energy customers maintain a valuable relationship with you.


This article has been adapted from two EnergyWire articles: "Smart Homes + Voice: How Energy Companies Can Own the Conversation," originally written by Leah Christoffersen, Strategy Manager at KSV, and "Get Ready for the Voice Revolution," originally written by Ashley Nicholls. 


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