CS Week Recap: Transforming Utility Customer Behavior

Steve Schult

For utility service providers, CS Week is the #1 educational and customer service conference serving electric, gas and water/wastewater utility professionals across North America and around the world. This year, CS Week was back with its four-day, in-person conference, touching on topics that span the entire utility customer experience lifecycle: Analytics, Billing & Payments, Contact Center, Credit & Collections, Digital Customer Engagement, Field Services, and Strategies & Management.   

InvoiceCloud was proud to both sponsor and present at this year’s event – but if you couldn’t make it to see our in-person session, don’t worry. Here’s an overview of our presentation with the City of Yakima, WA, Transforming Customer Behavior: Leveraging technology to drive self-service utility payments, for anyone who was unable to join us in Phoenix! 

Consumer preferences are changing 

Utilities today are actively compared to organizations that provide best-in-class digital experiences, like Amazon, Instacart, and Visa. Consumers’ day-to-day lives have been transformed by the convenience these organizations provide, leaving everyone from traditional institutions to digital disruptors scrambling to provide easier, more intuitive customer experiences

These digital preferences are alive and well among utility customers, and providers stand to gain critical benefits by enabling their customers with the convenient, self-service options they want. For utility organizations, driving self-service leads to: 

  • Fewer in-person customer visits  
  • More consistent, on-time collections 
  • Decreased organizational costs 
  • Fewer service shutoffs 
  • Reduced call volumes 
  • Higher customer satisfaction rates

How to influence utility customer behavior toward self-service enrollment

Studies have found that the average utility only has its customers’ attention for 10 minutes a year – which makes each customer engagement points a critical opportunity to convert customers to self-service. 

Here are just a few important customer engagement points along the payment route where utilities should drive customers to self-service options: 

Make the most of these touchpoints by clearly presenting your available self-service options and making enrollment as quick and effortless as possible! 

InvoiceCloud and The City of Yakima 

The City of Yakima, WA, is a full-service city that provides drinking water for ~15,000 customers within city boundaries. Billing is done in-house, and the city bills for the following on a 60-day cycle:  

  • Water: ~20,000 service connections 
  • Wastewater: 28,000 connections 
  • Refuse: 25,500 customers 
  • Stormwater: 30,000 accounts 
  • Irrigation: 10,000 connections to a raw water irrigation system 

Prior to partnering with InvoiceCloud, the city used an in-house bill payment system which only offered customers ACH and in-person credit/debit payment options – self-service options like e-billing and automatic payments (AutoPay) were not offered. Perhaps due to these limited options, less than 10% of Yakima residents used this online payment system. 

Since selecting InvoiceCloud in 2019, the city has seen: 

  • 50% increase in online payment adoption 
  • 65% increase in AutoPay enrollment 
  • 7,000 more on-time payments in cashflow every cycle 
  • 27% increase in paperless billing enrollment 
  • 92% customer satisfaction with online billing and payment options 

We’re still here to chat 

We had the opportunity to meet with so many amazing folks one-on-one at CS Week – to everyone we met with, it was a pleasure chatting about how InvoiceCloud can help your team reach its most critical goals! If we didn’t have a chance to connect, it’s not too late.

Fill out this form to schedule a 30-minute chat about your organization, whether you attended CS Week or not.

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