For utility providers, time is of the essence. In fact, according to a recent study, utility providers typically only hold their customers’ attention for 10 minutes per year! This means providers have just around 60 seconds a month to provide a top-quality customer experience that will encourage self-service, mitigate frustrations, and keep payments top of mind. So, it comes as no surprise that in order to keep customers satisfied and collections consistent, it’s mission-critical to make the most of those 10 minutes each year.
InvoiceCloud’s Chief Revenue Officer, Matt Braley, sat down with David Greenberg, SVP of Global Operations and Delivery at ESC Partners, for a webinar titled “10 Minutes to Impress: Making the Most of Customer Engagement.” Matt and David discussed essential aspects of maximizing customer engagement and how to change customer behavior through digitization.
If you weren’t able to catch the webinar or its recording, we’ve got you covered with a recap for all you need to know.
Be memorable through technology and digitization
Research by McKinsey and Company recently uncovered that billing and payments are the most important touchpoint in the customer journey, based on the weighting of each journey against overall customer satisfaction.
With billing and payments holding such tremendous weight in the customer’s brief journey with their provider, this is an ideal touchpoint to leverage digital tools that can drive customers to action. Intelligent communications, such as targeted payment reminders, are a great example of this.
For instance, Matt shared that he schedules one bill to be paid when he receives the invoice each month, but right before the due date will receive a text stating his balance. Unable to remember whether he’s already scheduled his payment or not, he’s forced to log into his account to check. A more relevant and actionable text for him to receive would be something along the lines of “your balance is X and you’ve scheduled a payment on X date.” If customers receive communications from a provider that are irrelevant, they tune them out and at that point, it’s almost better to send no communication at all.
Personalization should be more than just addressing the customer by name — it should be knowing their payment preferences well enough to know if they’re signed up for AutoPay, they shouldn’t even be receiving a notification or if they do, it’s something simple like a reminder of when the payment will be processed.
So how can you hype up your customers’ positive experiences? You don’t! Rather than focusing on how to add more frills to their experience, focus on simply avoiding negative ones. Remember, when it comes to a payment experience, the less friction the better. The process of submitting or scheduling a payment should be so seamless that it doesn’t even occur to most customers exactly how easy it was — it just is!
Utility providers know it’s critical to increase self-service
During the webinar, Matt and David asked attendees how high of a priority increasing self-service is for their organization. The majority of attendees responded “very high” or “high.” This isn’t surprising, given that most billers state they spend 10-20 hours each week fielding payment-related calls alone.
When utility providers offer self-service options, it’s not just their customers who win. There are a few other ways encouraging self-service adoption can be beneficial for utility organizations like yours:
- Level the playing field: When done right, offering self-service can help utility providers dealing with resignations and talent shortages. Empowering customers to receive bills and make payments without staff assistance allows automation to take care of menial tasks so employees can focus on higher priority projects, reducing burnout and fatigue.
- Reduce missed payments: Offering simple-to-use self-service payment options via online portals and mobile phones should help your organization see more on-time payments each month or cycle.
- Meet customer expectations: While self-service can help significantly reduce call volumes, mailed-in payments, and customer frustrations, offering these options aren’t enough. Billers must ensure the path to self-service is easy to find, easy to sign up for, and easy to repeatedly find in the future to drive meaningful levels of adoption.
Predicting your customers’ next step and more
Aside from understanding how utility providers can better engage with their customers, this conversation between two subject matter experts in the billing and customer engagement space is not to be missed.
Check out the full video below to learn more about creating an outstanding utility payment experience, as well as:
- Becoming a trusted utility resource
- People-planning and predicting customers’ next step
- Tips for capitalizing on critical customer engagement moments