Make It Easier for Customers to Pay Utility Bills

by | Jan 14, 2021

Why Optimizing CX In Utility Bills is critical

One of the most important factors for the ongoing health of a utility is the time it takes to receive payment; a measure that has been under additional pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those utilities offering only a single payment option, i.e. a check in an envelope, the absence of mail services during the COVID-19 lockdown had dire consequences.

This, combined with the financial pressures which affected customers’ ability to pay their bills, resulted in an uptick in days of sales open (DSO) and negatively impacted the utility’s cash flow.

In certain cases, the utility bill is the single most used touchpoint utilities have with their customers, yet there are still many potential stress points for both parties when it comes to the bill-to-payment journey. Some are not in the customer’s nor the utility’s control, but there are ways to make it easier for customers to pay utility bills. For example, reducing friction in the payment process and giving customers a choice as to how they wish to receive and settle their utility bills.

Service customers where they want to be serviced

Today’s customers have come to expect the same level of CX from their utility as they get from their other service providers and this includes being able to choose how they engage with the organization. 

While many utilities were already focused on customer experience prior to 2020, the pandemic has been a catalyst for an increase in the provision and adoption of additional communication channels and touchpoints.

Optimizing CX in the utility bill and payment journey

Whether the bill is one of a few or many touchpoints, the customer’s experience of the utility bill and payment process has a profound influence on their perception of the utility. Enhancing this experience by optimizing CX in the utility bill and payment journey should be part of a utility’s broader customer experience improvement strategy. 

Undoubtedly, the best way to improve the customer experience across all customer journeys is to meet customers where they want to be met and address their needs across all available channels. Certain customers are technically advanced and will easily adopt digital billing and payment options. Other customers are comfortable with more traditional processes; they prefer to receive a bill in the mail and send a check back for payment.

The answer to addressing most customer needs is to offer both digital and print options for billing and payment.

The first step is to understand how to reach your payments audience and optimize their transactional experience. Read more 

Migrating to a new bill and payment provider sounds painful

It’s critical that there is no breakdown in the billing and payment process which could exacerbate the utility’s cash flow problems and cause a degradation in the customer experience.

As an example, the Louisville Water Company undertook a massive migration in 2015 to a new customer care billing system and a new payment system. Having taken credit card payments online for more than 20 years, the utility was concerned to find a ton of issues post-migration, including being unprepared for the difference between batch and real-time processing, reconciliation issues and many customer complaints.

Fortunately, Louisville Water Company found (after subsequently engaging with Doxim) that it is possible to migrate to a new billing and payments provider without negatively impacting the utility or the customer experience. For more on Louisville Water Company’s experience, watch our on-demand webinar.

Selecting the right billing and payment partner is critical

It’s critical to select a billing and payment partner that can provide a friction-free, customer-friendly process across the channels that customers already use, while also being capable of providing a future roadmap to true omnichannel billing and payment.

Let Doxim help your utility communicate to the right customer, at the right time and in the channel that the customer prefers. CHAT TO A UTILITY CCM EXPERT

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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