Oracle Energy and Water’s Customer Edge Conference (Oracle Customer Edge) is a one-of-a-kind event for utility professionals to share lessons learned, best practices, and insights on the future of energy and water. InvoiceCloud was thrilled to participate in the invitation-only conference in San Diego earlier this week, as one of only six organizations invited to participate in the event’s Innovation Showcase, a unique forum bringing together some of the most forward-thinking technology companies to share their platforms which are shaping the future of energy and water.
Each morning of the conference began with a general session, designed to get attendees thinking about what’s next for the utility industry. To help you stay ahead of rapidly changing industry trends (whether you attended Oracle Edge or not!), here are a few of the hot topics that were top of mind for utility organizations nationwide.
Strategic engagement is the key to self-service
Driving self-service among customer bases was a major point of focus among attendees, not only the proven benefits of higher levels of self-service but also the major roadblocks to achieving this operational goal. Studies have found that the average utility only has its customers’ attention for 10 minutes a year – which makes each customer engagement point 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:
It’s not just about utilizing the entire customer journey to draw awareness to self-service options, it’s also about making self-service enrollment as quick and effortless as possible! The easier it is for customers to find and enroll in routes like paperless billing and automatic payments (AutoPay), the higher adoption will be.
The mobile takeover
Nowadays, consumers run their life from their phones. They’re always looking for ways their mobile device can streamline their everyday tasks — but only if these options offer easy, secure, and interactive experiences. Research from InvoiceCloud’s annual report, The State of Online Payments, found that mobile is a channel on the rise for utility bills and other monthly payments, with 67% of survey respondents having paid a bill on their mobile device in the last year.
At the conference, utility professionals discussed ways that they have optimized (or plan to optimize) their mobile payment experience to increase self-service and customer satisfaction. Many tactics were discussed, from leveraging mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay to providing customers with timely billing and service alerts to their mobile devices, with the overarching goal of using this popular channel to increase engagement.
The benefits of (true) SaaS solutions
Software as a service (SaaS) has numerous benefits that make it the preferred software choice for many organizations. Beyond the secure and highly configurable nature of SaaS, cloud-based solutions offer software scalability that on-premises and hosted software simply cannot. However, this reality doesn’t stop hosted solutions from “cloudwashing,” a term used to describe the practice of “rebranding” on-premises or hosted software. Cloudwashing involves taking traditional software and running it on a cloud instance, while still marketing it as “true cloud” or “true SaaS.”
As organizations become more aware of the benefits of true SaaS solutions, many companies without this setup are trying to position themselves as SaaS – without actually offering the real benefits of SaaS.
The City of Escondido, InvoiceCloud, and Oracle
InvoiceCloud has helped thousands of utilities improve the customer experience while driving digital engagement. As just one example, the increased engagement that the City of Escondido experienced after signing on with InvoiceCloud led to a reduction in manual processes, an increase in self-service payment adoption, and a reduction in payment-related phone calls. Through a real-time integration with Oracle Energy and Water customer service and billing technologies, InvoiceCloud provides seamless project delivery and remains in lockstep with future updates.
After implementing InvoiceCloud’s payment solution and integrating with the city’s Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing system in 2018, the City of Escondido immediately began to see results, including a 69% decrease in payment-related customer service calls and $23k in print and mail savings within their first nine months after going live with InvoiceCloud. Overall, since going live with InvoiceCloud in 2018, the City of Escondido has attained a self-service electronic payment adoption rate of 62% (meaning 62% of the city’s customers are now making their payments electronically through InvoiceCloud).
Watch the video below to hear the City of Escondido’s amazing journey to driving self-service within the community.