Posted by Alison Arthur on 12 Jun 2018
Utilities are one expense that people can count on, whether it’s their electric, gas, or water bills. Paying these balances on time can mean the difference between a household running smoothly and the risk of losing critical services. To help prevent inconvenient shutoffs, utility companies are tasked with delivering bills to their customers that are timely and actionable, while also providing easy ways to pay.
Utility companies often deal with high volumes of payments sent through the mail or called in over the phone. Solutions have evolved to help handle these payments, from dedicated call center reps to remittance processing systems and bank lockboxes. However, there are operational efficiencies that can be gained from moving these time-intensive payments toward electronic channels.
The right electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) solution can help encourage online payments, provide critical bill reminders, and adapt quickly to the changing needs of utility customers. Here are five ways utility companies can simplify billing and streamline payments with the right EBPP solution:
Paper bills are still undeniably popular. It’s estimated that in 2018, 66% of household bills will be mailed to their recipients. But customers are increasingly looking for electronic reminders that can either be used in conjunction with or as a replacement for, their paper bills. E-bills, email reminders, and text message notifications can put your bills right at your customers’ fingertips, encouraging them to make their payments as soon as they know their balances are due.
Technology has streamlined customers’ interactions with retailers and service providers, and they are increasingly looking for this convenience when it comes to paying their utility bills. A robust EBPP solution can offer a consistent, easy-to-navigate bill payment experience across all digital channels, from desktops to mobile devices. It can also give customers the ability to make one-time guest payments or create user accounts that provide access to more robust features.
Simplifying payments means giving customers the option to pay their utility bills with the payment methods of their choice. While some might prefer dropping a check in the mail, others might want to set up ACH transactions using their bank account information or use a debit card. Some might even want the convenience and perks of using a credit card. An EBPP solution can support multiple payment methods that make sense for both your utility company and your customers.
Continuity of service is critical for your customers. Some might be looking for the flexibility to align utility payments with their paycheck cycle, so they don’t run the risk of having insufficient funds when their bills are due. EBPP solutions can give your customers the flexibility to pay portions of their bills on a recurring basis to help them better manage their finances and keep their accounts in good standing. Automatic payments can also be a convenient option for your customers, allowing them to set up their payment preferences with the peace of mind that their payments will be made automatically, without the risk of service interruption.
As technology evolves, so do payments. Chatbots are popping up everywhere, giving customers the ability to converse naturally through channels like Facebook Messenger and Amazon Alexa to check account balances and pay bills. The right EBPP provider will be able to provide not only the payment channels that customers are looking for today, but also adapt easily to the payment channels of the future.
The Bottom Line: Utility customers are looking for a bill payment experience that’s on par with what they get from their favorite retailers and service providers. The right EBPP solution can provide billing options, payment methods, and payment channels that deliver a modern customer experience.