Disrupting without Disruption: The Reality of Digital Transformation for Utilities

Tessa Newell
digital transformation for utilities

It’s all well and good to talk about the importance of a modern customer experience (CX) and the consequences of failing to meet consumer expectations — but let’s be honest: the reality is digital transformation for utilities can be a daunting prospect.

To start, utility and local government organizations must invest time to determine exactly where their CX falls short and research solutions that can help accomplish their short- and long-term goals. Then there’s the process of obtaining buy-in from both leadership and functional teams (which is no small task) before even beginning the time-consuming overhaul of an outdated system.

Let’s look at some of the challenges of full-scale digital transformation and some more impactful alternatives for utilities and local governments looking to update their CX for the better.

The challenges of full-system implementations

A study from International Data Corporation (IDC) found that large enterprises spend an average of $27.5 million on complete digital transformation projects. Even failed system revamps can cost businesses; in 2022, Couchbase found that organizations spent an average of $4.12 million on failed projects. And, unfortunately, this isn’t an uncommon outcome. McKinsey & Company found that a whopping 70% of organizations that try to overhaul their systems fail, even when leadership is aligned. Challenges abound when we consider full-scale digital transformation.

But what if there was a way to reap all the benefits of an enhanced CX without the many potential pitfalls of system updates? Good news: there is a low-risk way to achieve the modernization that customers crave. The solution lies in optimizing the billing and payment experience.

When an organization considers updating any part of its end-to-end system and tools, it can seem a daunting task. The process can require hours of work, a large resource investment from the organization, and may even halt their operations while the switch is taking place. Experts say the process of digitizing an end-to-end system can take between 12 and 18 months for the implementation, and possibly an additional 18 to 36 months to yield results. Overrunning this lengthy timeline isn’t unheard of; Harvard Business Review found that an average of 27% of projects incur cost overruns, and more than 70% incur schedule overruns. Regarding downtime, a recent Forrester study found 56% of IT leaders in North America reported technology downtime has a significant impact on their organization’s revenue. Overall, complete system overhauls begin to lose value during the implementation process — a McKinsey study found that 55% of a digital transformation project’s value is lost during and after implementation.

Billing and payments: the gateway to modernization

As the face of your CX, optimizing the billing and payment touchpoint is the easiest and most effective way to enhance your utility or local government’s overall experience.

Consider your most frequent interaction with the average customer. While there may be outlier instances, monthly billing is likely the only consistent touchpoint, not to mention the most sensitive. When customer finances are involved, especially when they’re covering critical services, additional attention will naturally be paid to this touchpoint.

Let’s look at how one major utility organization focused on optimized the billing and payment experience and reaped incredible benefits as a result.

San Jose Water was burdened with a legacy payment system that was riddled with obstacles that negatively impacted customer satisfaction from a disjointed payment experience, labor-intensive collections that drained staff resources, and difficult reconciliations from a fragmented tech stack. San Jose Water was seeking a solution that integrated seamlessly with its CIS to streamline payments for a more user-friendly experience. The goal was to increase digital adoption and customer satisfaction, while reducing manual workloads — ideally, with minimal disruptions to their daily operations.

”We were anxious about the implementation — similar undertakings with payment platforms can take years to complete and cost thousands of dollars. But thanks to our CIS provider and InvoiceCloud’s joint solution and dedicated implementation teams, all deadlines and goals were met with the exceptional collaboration of all parties involved.” – John Tang San Jose Water VP of Regulatory Affairs and Customer Service

After a fully-supported, joint implementation with their CIS and InvoiceCloud, San Jose Water enjoyed a straightforward, successful launch of their new digital engagement and payment solutions, including:

  • Dedicated team of implementation experts to provide industry guidance and expertise
  • On-time go-live without delays despite changes in San Jose Water’s leadership and print vendor
  • Reduced IT burden with access to automatic updates provided by a true SaaS solution
  • Streamlined technology stack providing a better user experience for customers and staff

Payments as a Gateway to Improved Utility CX

To learn more about utility payment solutions as an alternative to full-scale digital transformation, get your free copy of our ebook, “Disrupting without Disruption: Payments as a Gateway to Improved Utility CX” below.

Tessa Newell

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