The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone around the world, and in an effort to protect one another, we are all shifting the way we live, work and play. It’s a challenge none of us expected. Yet, amidst all of this, we are witnessing incredible resilience as we all look out for each other.
Within Hydro Ottawa, we are seeing resilience too. COVID-19 has spurred our teams to innovate the way they communicate and engage with customers. In this final round of our The people behind electricity series, we take a look at some of Hydro Ottawa’s roles in which staff are working hard to keep customers informed with the latest energy updates and what they mean, practically-speaking, for customers:
Communications and public affairs
The communications and public affairs team is responsible for carefully crafting all information that is intended for customers - including this blog! Whether announcing new Hydro Ottawa initiatives or providing energy saving tips, this team assembles the information in a way that will be easy to understand, relevant, and engaging for a diverse customer base. When the information is newsworthy and/or deemed to have a significant impact on customers, the team also prepares key messages for the media and for Hydro Ottawa’s customer service teams to ensure that an accurate and mutual understanding is achieved - all with the customer experience in mind. Examples of Hydro Ottawa topics you may see in the news are COVID-19 (or other crisis) related material, electricity rate changes, major projects, community investments and more. The team also works hard to ensure that this information is easy to find for customers by disseminating information through as many channels as possible.
Community engagement looked a lot different in 2020. Typically, Hydro Ottawa’s community engagement officer is responsible for facilitating and informing the public of all events, big and small, that impact our community and align with Hydro Ottawa’s business direction. This includes open houses, fundraising initiatives, sponsorships, in-school presentations, and other community events. Since the emergence of COVID-19, this role shifted significantly as we all began reimagining the way we engage with one another to ensure health and safety. Events that were previously in-person are now being adjusted to a virtual format. In an effort to provide continued support to the community as people spend more time at home, our community engagement officer has been working hard to strike a balance between realigning our Community Investment Program, and supporting our operations teams by coordinating stakeholder communications on essential planned power outages and upcoming projects.
Our energy conservation team is committed to providing customers with strategies on how to reduce energy consumption, and, in turn, reduce their energy bills. Their initiatives include ongoing education on energy saving tips, promoting available rebates, and promoting energy efficiency retrofit programs to home and business owners. During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our CDM team observed the impact that it had on customer energy usage and developed some helpful infographics to provide insight into how to get the most out of every dollar spent on electricity. These infographics can be found here.
Customer information systems accounting
When it comes to any customer inquiries relating to payments (i.e. transferring payments, debit authorizations, tracing payments, etc.), it’s the Customer Information Systems Accounting team that takes the lead. They are responsible for processing, managing and reconciling all incoming payments. They also help customers with processing returns and refunds. Since COVID-19, they have been putting a greater emphasis on empowering customers to use Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) and online payments to help with processing times.
Occupational health, safety and environment management (OHSE)
Least surprising of all, this role has been deeply impacted by the pandemic. Staff working on the occupational health, safety and environment management team have been tirelessly implementing new health and safety protocols based on the threats that COVID-19 poses. To maintain the health and safety of Hydro Ottawa employees and the public, they have had to rethink the way that our staff operate - both inside and outside of the office. Given that Hydro Ottawa provides an essential service, all of these changes have needed to be swiftly implemented to avoid any disruption to customer service.
Navigating a pandemic for the first time has necessitated ongoing flexibility in what our teams communicate and how. Sensitivity, accuracy, and humility have been critical in this time of uncertainty. If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that change is constant and that our teams look forward to continually serving our customers better.
To learn even more about the people behind electricity at Hydro Ottawa, start from the beginning of this 4-part series at Part 1.