Bob’s Corner: Evaluating Critical Customer Engagement Touchpoints

Bob’s Corner: Evaluating Critical Customer Engagement Touchpoints

Published 10/5/23

Customer engagement drives success for billing organizations. The billing and payment experience is typically the most common, and often the only opportunity to engage with the customer. When engagement is high, customers are more likely to make timely payments and even opt for self-service routes, saving your team time and resources. Simply put, a pleasant payment experience, with an easy option to enroll in paperless billing and AutoPay, creates stronger customer satisfaction. Conversely, low engagement can lead to spikes in late or delinquent payments, interrupting critical services for customers, and creating work for your staff.

Now, for the big question: When did your organization last evaluate your critical customer engagement touchpoints? Customer preferences and expectations are continually evolving, so it is essential to keep on top of relevant trends that can help your organization better address what your customers need now, as well as what they will need in the future.

Here are a few latest trends I have observed that billing organizations should keep in mind while developing (or optimizing) their customer engagement strategy.

  1. Focus on mobile first

Optimizing channels for mobile phones is no longer optional. More than half of consumers make mobile payment transactions from their smartphones every year and mobile has even overtaken online portals as the preferred digital channel for bill payment, including utility bill payers. Your organization should design every engagement point with a mobile-first mindset.

What does this look like? It is about removing obstacles like login screens, making sure your website is easy to use on a mobile device, ensuring that the “Pay my Bill” button is clearly shown without scrolling, and making sure the experience is as frictionless and streamlined as possible.

  1. Utilizing social media

Your organization’s social channels are a great tool for broadcasting self-service opportunities. Routinely update your social media feed with payer education and reasons to pay online, from preventing check theft and fraud, providing tips and tricks to make the payment process easier, and providing your payment portal website so people can find it easily. Drive awareness of your social channels by utilizing on-hold messaging, posters in the office, bill inserts, and/or envelope teasers – this will inform readers of content they can find there.

  1. Customer self-service

Due to growth in digital channels, customers expect to be able to self-serve across every industry. Remember, your organization’s self-service capabilities are being measured against technology companies and retailers, rather than fellow utilities and local governments. Here are a few steps utilities can take to improve self-service and begin reaping these benefits:

  • Update invoices to include the website, QR code, and phone number customers can use to pay, prominently displayed near the amount and due date.
  • Make sure your payment information page on your website has clear information about any fees, your payment platform, and links to get there quickly. (We also recommend removing or at least de-prioritizing any mention of in-person payments on your website.)
  • Utilize in-office signage (banners, posters and counter cards, etc.) with QR codes that direct payers to online payment channels, rather than standing in line.
  • Update your IVR (Interactive Voice Response) message and process so people can pay online day or night without a customer service representative standing by.
  • Put a “Please go Paperless and Pay Online” envelope teaser for all customers still getting paper bills. Paperless billing saves you money and directs consumers down the digital self-service path.

Hope you are enjoying some lovely cool fall weather wherever you are! Cheers, Bob