Leveraging Utility Bills as a Customer Experience Boost

By John Hoggard, Principal, Global Utility Markets, Quadient –

As a regular (and sometimes only) touchpoint with customers, bills are an essential strategic asset for your utility.  Producing utility bills requires connectivity to many core systems to pull together the information necessary to create a comprehensive account summary, including account level usage data, transactional data, dates, multi-services, applicable tariffs, payment plans, and transaction summaries.  Optimizing bill performance offers compelling business results including on-time payments, reduced disconnects, higher adoption of e-billing offerings, and better customer engagement. 

The following are some bill-optimization tips that will help you achieve these benefits, even if you are challenged with limited budgets and a myriad of disconnected legacy systems that house customer data.

Think Omnichannel, Not Multichannel
From a strategic standpoint, utility customer experience (CX) and billing professionals need to understand that omnichannel differs from multi-channel; multichannel enables your customers to interact through whatever preferred medium, but each interaction is distinct and disparate. Omnichannel however, is about providing consistent, yet unique and contextual experiences across multiple customer touchpoints including in-person, mobile, web, social, and marketplaces. Omnichannel removes the distinctions between channels to create a single view of the customer; it’s the customer that lies at the core. This is a major paradigm shift for utilities that have historically been wholly premise-focused, and is a critical strategic foundation for moving forward with a world-class utility CX and omnichannel (not multichannel!) strategy.

Implementing a Unified Communications Hub is Key
When it comes to statements, your customers (and regulators) expect accuracy and consistency. It’s crucial to have a reliable system for gathering relevant, up-to-date content and ensuring that the data presented on bills is not only correct, but also consistent.  This is particularly important for utilities facing stern regulatory and compliance requirements.  Creating a unified communications hub, which doesn’t require a costly and time-consuming data warehouse project, is the answer to achieving this goal.  This hub, empowered by agile Customer Communications Management (CCM) solutions, can be an especially useful consideration during utility bill redesign projects.

Take Customer Preferences to a New Level
When designing statements or conducting bill redesign projects, it is important to consider how they will be consumed. Modern CCM solutions provide the capability to output to paper, PDF, e-mail and HTML5, and present data to third-party solutions such as Rapid Mobile Application Development platforms. As demographics change, most utility customers now want the ability to view statements across multiple devices, as well as on paper. It’s important to have a solution in place that delivers statements on the channel of the customer’s choice. There is technology available that empowers your business users to easily personalize content and messages included on utility statements to optimize response rates and reduce time to payment. You can then share content from your offline statements with mobile apps and web portals to provide rich, online documents that allow your customers to analyze their statements through interactive graphs, charts, and tables.

Utility invoices, statements, and other necessary customer documents and communications aren’t going away. Today’s customers are interacting more with their data via online portals and mobile apps, and modern CCM technologies will enable your utility to achieve these goals.  Creating a unified omnichannel experience for your customers is key to providing an elevated customer experience, and employing such strategies into your utility’s communications and bill redesign projects will ultimately build the foundation for world-class utility customer experience.