Emergence of the New Payments Paradigm – The Case for Utility CX Transformation
By Paridhi Gupta, Marketing, Smart Energy Water
Utilities across the geographies have started their journey to improved customer self-service capabilities. Now millions of people enjoy the digital convenience of managing their utility account, tracking usage, paying bills, getting notified and a lot more. This world of utility self-service will continue to adapt as the ecosystem evolves, with changes coming in the form of smart grids, smart homes, emobility, renewables, etc. The relationship with the customers is much more complex and interesting.
Amidst these changes, a fundamental evolution is happening—the evolution of utility billing and payments. The much-touted ‘unbundling of banks’ has unleashed dramatic changes in the payments ecosystem, impacting not just utilities but all other customer-facing industries.
While utilities gear up for matured self-service models, it is worth exploring this upcoming revolution in billing and payments. After all, this is the uncontested #1 use case.
Real-time payments are already commonplace, with new methods gaining steam, be it point-of-sale lending and buy-now-pay-later solutions, tap or scan-to-pay solutions such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, or QR codes. Today’s innovation will be commonplace for tomorrow, making it imperative for utilities to build a tech stack that is ready for adapting to such changes.
And who is behind these changes? The end customers.
For they are dictating how, when and where they want to pay their bills, how they gain control, convenience, and speed. This shift in customer behavior is changing the way utility bill is presented and the way it is paid. And as the customer becomes smarter, their billing and payment needs will continue to evolve. From personalized rate plans to custom payment arrangements, utilities are moving far away from one size fits all approach.
So, what do they need?
The need here is for utilities to look at an integrated digital approach that provides secure billing and payment options, helping them streamline collection, validation and payment of bills to optimize customer payment lifecycle, improve the experience and operational efficiency.
Here are the four pillars for utilities to master:
- Modernize the Billing Experience
Perfect the bill presentment by creating a device-agnostic experience. Make it easy for customers to digitally access their current and historical utility bills in just a single click. Provide intelligent information in online bills.
- Unlock the Digital Payment Channels
Securely and seamlessly leverage the modern payment channels to boost customer adoption. Bring Credit Cards, ACH, Text-to-pay, Wallets, Apple Pay, G-Pay, PayPal etc., to the payments ecosystem. Make arrangements for One-Time Payments, AutoPay, and other flexible payment plans with 24/7 support and assistance.
- Bring Home the AI/ML Intelligence
Understand the customers and their behavior with the built-in AI/ML engine and extend personalized offerings and incentives.
- Get Talking
Solidify the customer relationship and earn their trust by providing consistent and clear communication. Send notifications and alerts are chosen by the customer to their preferred channels: Email, Text, IVR, chatbots, etc.
The reason for mastering the above is evident from numerous industry success stories. By adapting to the new billing and payments paradigm, utilities optimise revenue cycle, decrease bed debt, and improve customer experience and satisfaction.
About Smart Energy Water
Smart Energy Water, with its innovative and industry-leading cloud platforms, delivers the best Digital Customer Experiences (CX) and Workforce Experiences (WX), powered by AI, ML, and IoT Analytics to the global energy, water, and gas providers. At SEW, the vision is to Engage, Empower, and Educate billions of people to save energy and water. We partner with businesses to deliver platforms that are easy-to-use, integrate seamlessly, and help build a strong technology foundation that allows them to become future-ready.