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

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Erin Romo
Vice President, Utilities Vertical Lead at Doxim
With over 15 years of experience in providing information technology and services to the utility sector, Erin’s expertise extends across project and operations management, as well as sales and account management. Erin was Director of Customer Solutions at Utilitec, (acquired by Doxim in 2019) having been with the company for 15 years. Prior to that, she worked as a Project Manager at MSX International.

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