What Is the Current State of Payment in Utilities?

by | Jul 16, 2021

Exploring The Current Payment Landscape, As Well As Trends Shaping Payment In Utilities

A shockwave of change has ripped through organizations across all industries, reshaping the way companies do business and serve their customers. The payment landscape has not been immune to this forced evolution, in fact it has probably changed forever.

We have selected articles that discuss this ‘payment evolution’ and specifically how payment in utilities is transforming to better serve the changing needs of utility customers.

We end off with a comment from Sean Kennelly, who discusses the main challenges around bill delivery and payment in utilities today and how to overcome them.

3 Ways COVID-19 has changed payments for good

commerce iconThe pandemic fueled evolution, re-shaping the commerce landscape, among others. According to this article, there has been a notable increase in the adoption of ‘new commerce and payment behaviors.’ While there is no doubt that payment technology has a bigger role to play in this new environment as its business value is now key to success.

The article highlights ‘three new realities that payments technology stakeholders must consider as they assess their role in the future of commerce,’ namely:

  • The digital payments market of the future is here today
  • Payments have become mission-critical business infrastructure
  • Digital is default

Read this article to learn more

Expanding Customer Payment Options: A Pandemic Response but Lasting Trend

digitally-enabled iconIn this article, we read about the long-lasting effects of the pandemic, specifically the financial impact thereof on utility customers. Many businesses closed their doors, causing people to lose their income and thus unable to pay their bills. People who weren’t digitally-enabled struggled to make payments, as these interactions shifted online.

23% Of consumers surveyed in July reported having to choose which bills to pay because of financial stress – Fiserv Expectations & Experiences research

Utilities have had to find ways to support their customers through these difficult financial times while maintaining cash flow. It is suggested that they rethink their payment strategies with a focus on easing the current financial challenges and offering more convenient bill payment options. It is noted that while mobile bill presentment is becoming increasingly popular, some customers still prefer walk-in bill payment options. Therefore, utilities must ensure they accommodate the payment preferences of all their customers. Read this article to learn more

Utilities Challenged by Shortfall From Unpaid Bills

“Electric and gas utility companies are looking at $24.3 billion in unpaid bills, according to an analysis released Oct. 1 (2020) by the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA”)

Utilities suspended service shutoffs however, despite non-payment of bills as they realized the significant financial impact of COVID-19.

“The more money a customer owes [or the more months that go by where no payment is made], the harder it will be for that customer to recover financially. On the other hand, if they can continue to make some payments to keep their overdue balances under about $300, they’re more likely to survive pandemic-related financial setbacks”– BlastPoint analysis of late customer payments throughout the pandemic.

It is therefore critical that utilities enable customers to pay their utility bills quickly and efficiently. Read this article to learn more

The Main Challenges Around Bill Delivery And Payment In Utilities Today And How To Overcome Them

I see two primary challenges for bill delivery and payment in utilities. First is minimizing client friction and getting clients on to automated payment methods. Some customers prefer to pay whenever they want, however they want, in an ad-hoc way. This can cause payment delays and require extra human effort in terms of managing the collections/repayment process.

The second challenge lies in back-end functions, such as settlement, reconciliation, and collections, which can require manual processes and a lofty number of resources if the utility does not have the right technology and partners available to support them.

An omnichannel payment experience is key

Because customers want to choose how and when they pay their utility bills, a range of payment methods is required that leverage available technologies and channels. Customers also want the ability to move seamlessly between payment channels and methods as their preferences change.

Providing an omnichannel payment experience means offering a variety of self-service and biller-assisted payment methods, enabling customers to personalize their experience.

Digital billing and payments platforms deliver highly efficient payment processing and faster collections

Modern digital billing and payments platforms are customer-centric and intuitive, making e-adoption easier and driving cost efficiencies. Customers are motivated to go digital based on user-friendly interfaces, real-time posting, and the ability to set personal payment reminders/alerts.

Utilities benefit from the detailed and conclusive reporting on the full payment lifecycle, from authorization through funding, and reconciliation. In addition, a more efficient process (for both biller and customer) promotes faster payments, easier reconciliations and reduces the cost of collections.

Doxim’s Billing and Payment Solution is purpose-built for Utilities

Doxim’s suite of secure, multi-channel billing and payment solutions supports the entire bill-to-payment process, from composition, bill design and presentment to payment collections, account management and communications. Doxim’s platform involves a simple implementation and provides a seamless experience for both customers and staff.

3. Expansion of digital products

As banking customer behavior shifts, banks must move with the times, or risk getting left behind. Many banks today are exploring the power and potential of open banking, which can allow them to offer more innovative products and services to their customers, as well as to better compete with fintech companies and other non-traditional financial service providers.

As you shift your banking business model to reach new segments or provide an enhanced array of services, communication becomes even more pivotal to your success. After all, if your customers don’t know which new services they qualify for, or how those services will help them meet their goals, then they are unlikely to explore them further. CCM technology can be leveraged here to provide personalized on-statement messaging that directs customers to the right products and services, as well as 1:1 personalized “explainer” videos to help them get started.

Adjusting your bank’s priorities to thrive in 2023

In an era of constant change, the key to successfully transforming your bank’s business model will be to stay attuned to the changing needs and preferences of customers, and to be open to exploring new opportunities and technologies that can help your FI stay competitive and relevant. But these new opportunities are doomed to fail if you do not clearly communicate their benefits and make it simple for customers to access them.

That is why transforming your customer communication strategy is the best first step to broader digital transformation. By updating your approach to communications to meet omnichannel customer needs, you also position your bank to communicate the benefits of changes in your broader organization, like new or enhanced products and services. The pace of change in banking has never been brisker – but with the right strategic approach to these changes, the future is bright.

Investing in a modern customer communication management and engagement platform is an essential part modernizing your banking strategy, as it can provide the personalized digital experiences that will keep your bank or credit union ahead of the competition. It helps provide a great customer experience, and builds rich relationships, which in turn results in customers for life and a competitive advantage in the rapidly evolving financial marketplace.

How Doxim can address the banking customer communications trends identified and help future-proof your digital banking strategy

banking customer communications trends

Doxim’s experienced consultants and omnichannel platform can help transform your customer experience in many ways, including:

  • Gathering and utilizing customer data to continually improve the personalization of communications.
  • Building trust with customers via communication (via print, PDF, HTML, email, text, and online interactive experiences).
  • Leveraging interactive video to drive personalized digital customer experiences, such as interactive statements, bills, or reports, that offer visual engagement and real-time interactivity
  • Putting customer data, including customer statements, at the fingertips of your service representatives for immediate and personal service.
  • Making a meaningful connection with value-added content, like information about philanthropic activities, on customer statements.

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