Vector, New Zealand’s largest distributor of electricity and gas, owns and operates networks which span the Auckland region. Vector operates in a highly regulated environment and is measured on consumer trust, customer effort and accessibility of its services. Working with Ambit, Vector launched its chatbot ‘Watt’ in August 2018 to help its customers quickly and efficiently access the information they need.
We asked Senior Digital Platform Manager Sam Lake about his experience of working with Ambit.
Why did you start looking into bots?
The energy industry is on the cusp of major disruption, so we need to make sure we invest in remaining relevant to the public we serve. Vector is open to innovation and always looking at new channels to interact better with customers. With bots and chat being an emerging channel, it made sense to understand more about how we could leverage that technology.
What was the goal of implementing a bot for Vector?
Our goal is always to deliver a quality customer experience for the members of the public we engage with. Our web data showed us that we had an opportunity to engage more effectively with website visitors. We wanted to increase conversion rates – providing people with the information they needed online, when they wanted it, without having to phone our call centre.
“Vector is open to innovation and always looking at new channels to interact better with customers.”
Why did you choose to work with Ambit?
We spoke to a few providers before moving ahead with Ambit. Being new to this type of technology, Vector needed a partner who could take us on the journey, guide us, show us how to do it well, and give us advice along the way. Our interactions with Josh, Tim, and their team gave us the confidence that we would be able to have this kind of relationship with Ambit.
What challenges did you face along the way?
Being a large organisation with a strong regulatory framework, we can’t always be as nimble on our projects as we might like. Ambit was flexible about accommodating us and keeping the project moving – they were responsive and helped us operate within our constraints to maintain momentum on the project. They turned work around so fast that often they were waiting for us!
What was Ambit’s approach?
Ambit’s initial proof of concept arrived quickly and gave us confidence that their approach would meet our needs. We appreciated the amount of time they spent with us up-front to understand what we were trying to achieve. Their design-thinking approach means that as well as questioning and listening to us, they also offered advice and alternative views to arrive at the most appropriate solution. We could see that as well as having the capability to deliver the technology, we had in Ambit a partner who wanted to understand and meet our business drivers. We were involved in every step, which was important to us since another project goal was to upskill internally. The personal relationship was key – we valued the ability to have very transparent and constructive conversations that were focused on achieving the best result.
“..already we can see a 5% decrease in click through to our phone number, which translates into ~2000 calls monthly… 30,000 messages with Watt over the last 3 months”
How has Watt performed so far?
We get real-time feedback from Watt and it’s generally very positive. It was a brand new channel for Vector so there was some caution initially, but our leadership is pretty excited about how well it’s going. Watt is fairly new, and we haven’t promoted it heavily, but already we can see a 5% decrease in click through to our phone number, which translates into ~2000 calls per month. Overall, we’re getting around 2000 hits to Watt a month, on a wide range of topics, and our customers have exchanged almost 30,000 messages with Watt over the last three months. We can see engagement growing, and our approach is to continually add to Watt’s capability, so our results are improving as time goes on.
What did you find most valuable about your experience with Ambit?
In 2018, tech projects are not really about the tech – the proliferation of intuitive, scalable customer platforms means that there needs to be even more focus on actually solving the customer needs and creating value. The big thing Ambit brings is their design and business engagement capability – the ability to identify the business outcomes and then leverage the technology to achieve them and create value.