Why Digital Billing and Payment in Utilities Is More Important Now Than Ever

by | Jul 8, 2021

Utility Providers Must Find Ways To Support The Continued Use Of Digital Processes, Such As Digital Billing And Payments

After more than a year of lockdowns and limited physical contact, use of digital channels across industries has escalated to an all-time high. Therefore, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen an immense increase in consumer demand for digital engagement with their utility.

Now that the initial crisis and uncertainty have subsided, and communities are opening up again, utilities must look at ways to further assist their recovering customer base. Agile utilities who want to keep their customers well serviced must have a plan to continue improving their digital offering, or risk a reverse migration.

For example, customers who previously did walk-in payments at their local utility or went to the post office to mail a check, had to quickly come to grips with receiving and paying their bill via digital channels. These same customers now have the choice to return to physical channels or continue using digital.

For those utilities that implemented a customer-centric, easy-to-use, digital billing and payment process, it’s likely that consumers will opt to stay on digital. But utilities that were not successful at doing this can expect to see a reverse trend when it comes to digital adoption, with a portion of their customer base opting to return to walk-in payments.

Digital billing and payment in utilities is not a new concept

Digital billing and payment in utilities has been available for years, and the early utility adopters of this technology enjoyed a competitive differentiator for a period. But the pandemic motivated more utilities and consumers to adopt digital technologies than ever before, which means simply offering digital options is no longer enough to stand out.

Utilities must assess whether their current digital billing and payment offering is truly customer-centric, or if it was developed to quickly tick a box. Receiving the bill must be easy, the information itself must be quick to understand, and making a payment should be simple.

Providing the customer with a choice as to how they want to receive and pay their bill is key. One customer may want to visit the call center or mail a check, while the next will opt to use a secure online portal or a mobile application.

Enabling digital progress during uniquely unusual times

Utility providers must look for ways to support the continued use of digital processes, such as digital billing and payments. This is not only a way to provide a great customer experience but provides benefits to the utility as well, such as faster payments and simpler reconciliations.

Utilities can support their customers in the following ways:

  • Continue educating consumers on how to use digital channels for tasks that previously required physical interaction, such as the billing and payment process
  • Ensure that digital processes are highly secure and personal information is protected throughout the information lifecycle, while also teaching customers how to keep their own information and devices safe
  • Motivate new customers to adopt digital processes by ensuring that onboarding programs promote the available channels, and leverage email and social media to educate customers that are new to digital processes
  • Provide additional resources to potentially vulnerable customers on how to identify and prevent scams, as cybercrime continues to increase in volume and sophistication.

Digital transformation can empower and reassure your customers, but it must be targeted and enacted with care and attention. Through all these critical initiatives, utilities should also be sensitive to consumers’ priorities during this time. Communication strategies that may have been effective a few months ago, could be irrelevant to customers now that restrictions are being lifted.

Doxim CCM is purpose-built to optimize the bill-to-payment journey

By working with a utility-focused billing and payment provider, you can draw on existing industry expertise to improve the bill-to-payment journey, without increasing the burden on your internal teams.

It’s vital to select a partner that can fulfill your immediate needs, while also helping you plan for a full omnichannel, bill-to-payment customer experience.

Take the first step today – delight your utility customers by providing a customer-centric utility billing and payment solution.

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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