Utility Billing and Payments Conference

Utility Billing and Payments Conference

July 28-29, 2021 | Online :: Central Time

Overview

“Things are evolving fast in how people do business in so many types of business. The EUCI Billing and Payment Conference is a chance for utilities to explore how to keep up with the trends in our unique space.” – Business Development Manager, Puget Sound Energy

“This was my first virtual conference and it exceeded expectations in content, interaction and knowledge sharing.” – Billing and Payments Director, IREA

Utilities have done remarkable things to keep customers’ lights on during these difficult times but are seeing diminished revenues as they face unexpected expenses. When the vaccines are fully dispensed and the pandemic fades, any economic recovery will be impacted by potentially huge debts to utilities that need to be addressed. Shutoff moratoriums have allowed pandemic impacted residential and small business customers to defer utility payments without the threat of losing service. The end of the moratoriums will create a perfect storm for utility companies with fewer customer service reps, increased call center volumes and increased call durations.

This annual utility billing and payments conference has never been more important as utilities will continue to struggle with diminished revenues for some time. Case studies and real-world examples of optimized approaches will be discussed throughout the conference providing attendees with valuable ideas for consideration. Speakers and attendees will examine best practices and explore the future of billing and payment strategies to make up for reduced revenues.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss using technology to make informed decisions and get help to utility customers that are desperately in need.
  • Review lessons learned from the pandemic to improve the customer experience
  • Explore the benefits of prepay using different payment channels to increase revenue
  • Discuss how to improve collections, reduce bad debt and enhance customer engagement
  • Review proven methods to successfully develop world-class in-house operations
  • Discuss changing customer behavior to promote regular monthly payments instead of customers only making payments when the threat of disconnection arises
  • Discuss Beyond the Meter (BTM) solutions that generate non-usage revenue and increase customer satisfaction
  • Explore how the pandemic highlighted a challenge that customers had with making payments to a utility that were outside of the normal utility bill payment process

Agenda

Wednesday, July 28, 2021: Central Time

8:45 – 9:00 a.m.
Log In

9:00 – 9:10 a.m.
Welcome, Overview and Introductions

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Conference Timing

9:10 – 9:40 a.m. :: Setting the Stage – Trends in Utility Billing/Payments

This session will set the context, themes, and participatory discussion tone for the conference. Conference chair, Jon Brock will present current trends in the market as it relates to Billing and Payments in the utility industry from research and work in the industry before, during, and the upcoming post-pandemic. Mr. Brock will also talk about how utilities can engage customers using various digital channels.  Attendees are invited and encourages to provide input regarding key discussion interests to highlight throughout the conference sessions.

Jon Brock, Account Director, Utilities Practice, ISG

9:40 – 9:45 a.m. :: Break

9:45 – 10:25 a.m. :: The Next Generation of Prepay at Salt River Project

SRP manages the largest prepay network in North America. Their award-winning program has been a customer satisfier and provides significant operational and customer benefits.  However, due to a dated technology certain benefits cannot be offered. This presentation will highlight the changes SRP is currently undergoing to transition from their current prepay program to one that maintains all the benefits customers love today while introducing new benefits of prepay smart meters. These benefits are particularly important during the pandemic and include:

  • Allow prepay payments using all payment channels, thus eliminating the need for the smart card (token)
  • Maintain real-time prepay data for customers
  • Display near real time data for customers  
  • Offer status/usage/balance viewing on mobile device and web
  • Eliminate the need for meter exchanges to enroll
  • Allow for Time-of-Use and solar rate plans
  • Initiate power on remotely

Brad Umbrianna, Supervisor M-Power Operations, Salt River Project

10:25 – 10:30 a.m. :: Break

10:30 – 11:05 a.m. :: Using Technology to support Customers in Need

On February 28th, 2020 everything changed in Washington State with the announcement of (what was thought to be) the first US death from COVID-19.  Fear spread quickly, businesses started sending employees home within a week, and little did we know what was ahead.  Fast forward to present day and we are still very much in a pandemic and working towards recovery.

This presentation will focus on how Puget Sound Energy quickly adapted to the changes in our workforce and began using technology to make informed decisions and get help to our customers that were desperately in need.  We will explore the use of our Low-Income Energy Assistance Portal to distribute COVID relief funds, our Platform of Insights to segment customers and track payments, and Customer Information System (SAP) changes required by our Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission COVID-19 Order. The presentation will touch on: digital transformation, deployment speed and dexterity, community, and the importance of partnerships during times of crisis.

Theresa Burch, Manager Customer Solutions, Billing & Payment, Puget Sound Energy

11:05 – 11:10 am. :: Break

11:10 – 11:50 a.m. :: Customer Arrears Assistance Plan (CAAP) at Manitoba Hydro

Since 2018, Manitoba Hydro has provided residential customers a way to budget their consumption and arrears monthly. The account will bill a portion of the arrears plus current charges each month until the end of the term where the arrears are paid in full. This allows the customer to set a budget for themselves while improving their customer experience.  CAAP was designed to change customer behavior; to promote regular monthly payments instead of customers only making payments when the threat of disconnection arises. The program was borne out of a Bill Affordability study done in Manitoba because of rate hearings.  This program has reduced the cost of collection per customer substantially and the presentation will share all these great details with you!

Charlene Macfadden, Credit & Recovery Services Supervisor, Manitoba Hydro

Cheryl Reed, Credit & Recovery Services Supervisor, Manitoba Hydro

11:50 – 11:55 a.m. :: Break Between Speakers

11:55 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. :: The Aftermath of a Legacy World to AMI, Using Cross Functional Teams to Reduce Billing Exceptions

As Entergy moves forward in upgrading our metering infrastructure, billing exceptions increased due to system integration defects, and lack understanding the end-to-end process of cross functional processes. This storytelling presentation will provide the viewers an experience of overcoming roadblocks and using Continuous Improvement methodologies and practices to improve cross-functional process to reduce billing exception backlogs and overall inflow.

Victoria Wells, Supervisor, Customer Invoice and Accounting, Entergy

12:30 – 1:15 p.m. :: Lunch Break

1:15 – 1:55 p.m. :: Dashboarding your Performance

This presentation will cover successful strategies to help leverage dashboarding and analytics to help drive measuring performance, prioritizing workloads, forecasting and process improvement.  This presentation will cover proven methods to successfully developing world-class in-house operations – whether it’s Billing, Credit, Customer Service, or any other function.  The presenting duo will respond to inquiries from the audience and provide an online simulation using the Power BI dashboarding tools.  This session also gives attendees the opportunity to brainstorm new ideas to develop new customer and billing initiatives at their utilities.

Andrew Reeves, Senior Business Analyst, Baltimore Gas & Electric

1:55 – 2:00 p.m. :: Break

2:00 – 2:40 p.m. :: Utilizing Technology to Change the Way We Work

Over the last year there have been several opportunities to explore new ways of improving existing processes by utilizing technology and pushing the boundaries of what our current tools are capable of. The COVID-19 pandemic was a driver for change as we looked for new ways to complete the same tasks while adapting to our new norm. The goal has been to reduce the amount of manual work within the team by automating simple tasks leaving more room for complex investigations and meaningful work. Alongside the process improvements, the priority has been to continue to keep the team motivated and engaged throughout this uncertain time as we all face different challenges. In this presentation we will be discussing examples of improvement opportunities that have been explored by BC Hydro and will be sharing our learnings including:

  • Bot pilot – exploring task automation
  • Inventory management – automation of adjustments
  • Cheque Payments – transitioning to online reviews
  • Employee Engagement – office to WFH
  • Continue Improvement Project

Jeremy Fowler, Billing and Payments Manager, BC Hydro

Mathew Hung, Billing and Payments Manager, BC Hydro

2:40 – 2:45 p.m. :: Break

2:45 – 3:20 p.m. :: Profitability Found Beyond the Meter

For over 100 years, utilities have offered Beyond the Meter (BTM) solutions that generate non-usage revenue and increase customer satisfaction. During these challenging times of the pandemic, it has never been more important for utilities to find additional ways of generating revenue.  Utilities are in a unique position that allows them to reach “BTM” and into people’s homes.  In fact, over 40% of U.S. utilities already offer assorted “value added” solutions.  Yet, many utilities know very little about these programs and the benefits they provide to homeowners and the impact on their bottom line. This presentation provides an in-depth overview into the programs and profitability found BTM and provides attendees the opportunity to openly share their best practices and road map.  Key takeaways include:

  • Case studies taken from existing utility partners
  • An overview of the leading top performing service offerings
  • The build vs. buy conundrum
  • Marketing best practices
  • How to achieve 25% – 40% participation
  • Calculating projected annual earnings

Rob Gilpin, Director of Business Development, American Water Homeowner Services

3:20 – 3:25 p.m. :: Break

3:25 – 4:00 p.m. :: Automated Arrearage Management

Traditionally, utility companies have relied upon a conversation between a CSR/Collector, and their consumer to establish a payment arrangement (a promise to pay). While this approach may have been workable in the past, it was never designed to handle the arrearage levels created by Covid where moratoriums still exist in some markets. This presentation will share insightful information about how ACI Worldwide has helped utilities address the challenges posed by Covid-19 and the collections moratoriums with automated arrearage management.

Alexis Blackstead, VP, Product, ACI Worldwide

Dan Bolger, Head of Sales, Government and Utilities, ACI Worldwide

4:00 – 4:05 p.m. :: Break

4:05 – 5:00 p.m. :: Best Practices in Billing/Payments: A Roundtable Discussion

In this roundtable discussion, you will have the opportunity to talk with your peers about successes and challenges within your departments during these difficult times. The interactive panel will respond to inquiries from the moderator and audience on different initiatives being considered to address the utility billing/payment process. Bring your challenges and thinking caps to the table!

Moderator: Jon Brock, Account Director, Utilities Practice, ISG

Panelists:

Cheryl Reed, Credit & Recovery Services Supervisor, Manitoba Hydro

Bridget A. Jones, Billing Services Manager, Baltimore Gas & Electric

Mark McCarthy, Managing Director, MUFG

Arvina Barnes, Senior New Business Developer, ACI Worldwide

Steve Ryan, Principal Product Manager, KUBRA

Thursday, July 29, 2021 : Central Time

8:45 – 9:00 a.m.
Log In

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Conference Timing

9:00 – 9:40 am. :: Improving the Customer Experience in a Pandemic is a Multi-Tiered Approach

In March 2020, as it became clear that pandemic impacts were imminent, COA and Austin Energy responded with a focus on safety and customer relief.  As our teams deployed home for their safety, we also started a collaborative effort across the utility to focus on utility bill assistance and a positive customer experience in the most trying times.  As thoughts turned in 2021 to a return to standard operations, we found a need to pivot again in response to Winter Storm Uri impacts in Texas.

This presentation will focus on how Austin Energy immediately responded to customer needs – providing relief programs, adjusting operations, and building a communication plan to keep in touch with our customers throughout the pandemic.  It will also highlight ways we were able to continue expanding payment offerings and online service options to provide numerous methods of managing their utility account needs while in person options were less available.  We’ll also share how we’re assessing what a post-pandemic customer experience looks like and what needs have changed in our customers.  We’ll highlight how changing conditions require strong communication, change management, and an ability to pivot, always keeping in mind our mission to continue to safely deliver clean, affordable, reliable energy and excellent customer service.

John Winemiller, Supervisor, Customer Account Management, Austin Energy

9:40 – 9:45 a.m. :: Break

9:45 – 10:25 a.m. :: The Butterfly Effect of Electronic Payments

This session is a case study on the disproportionate cost impact of small groups of atypical bill payments across a utilities or biller’s businesses, and how one large utility solved this challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted a challenge that customers had with making payments to a utility that were outside of the normal utility bill payment process – payment types not addressed in its electronic payment strategy. The company found that the amount of time and effort in processing and reconciling these paper transactions exceeded the costs of processing 1,000X the number of electronic payments in its primary billing types. The company also realized the negative impact on customer experience created by the lack of options for various bill types versus multiple options for its primary bill type. The utility had to quickly implement an electronic payment solution or risk losing the revenue but found the solution would also create extensive savings and improved customer experience.

Mark McCarthy, Managing Director, MUFG

Thuy Nguyen, Electronic Billing & Payment Manager, Southern California Gas Company (Invited)

10:25 – 10:30 a.m. :: Break

10:30 – 11:10 a.m. :: Customer Service and Payment Options During a Pandemic

The theme of this presentation is to present the characteristics of customer service that impact the ability to collect arrears when dealing with a customer especially during the pandemic. The presenter will discuss when dealing with a customer on the phone or in person, how a friendly but firm approach and being empathetic will net the best results. Examples of what not to do and what to do from videos and personal experience will be shared. This will be an interactive session as attendees will be asked questions to obtain their involvement. There will also be a group exercise to stimulate discussion and ideas. Attendees will look at how best to deal with an upset customer that has received a collection call or notice and also working with them on different payment options.

Enzo Augimeri, Manager, Customer Service, Oakville Hydro

11:10 – 11:15 a.m. :: Break Between Speakers

11:15 – 11:55 a.m. :: Returning to Normal: Resuming Strategic Initiatives and Managing Change Post Pandemic

Like utilities across North America, Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) had to make changes because of the pandemic. This involved implementing new ideas to accommodate both customers and staff. In this presentation, Rich Brewer will share with attendees how IREA planned, implemented, and managed customer expectations regarding:

  • Changes to billing cycles
  • IREA’s preferred billing program
  • New charges and/or rate structures

Rich Brewer, Billing and Payments Director, Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA)

11:55 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. :: Closing Comments

12:00 p.m. :: Conference Concludes

Workshop

The Essential Components of a CX Utility

Thursday, July 29, 2021: Central Time 

1:00 – 4:15 p.m.:: Workshop Timing (includes short breaks)

Overview

Utilities are facing increasingly high expectations from a new generation of customers demanding compelling experiences when interacting with the company. This situation combined with the pandemic is forcing utilities to place customers at the center of their operation. It has made Customer Experience (CX) to gain traction relentlessly in the industry, up to the point in which business success will depend mostly on delivering the best experience to customers. Many utilities are focusing on CRM and CX to improve customer engagement and streamline customer operations.

Join us at this essential workshop where utility and industry professionals will share their best practices in dealing with this customer centric evolution. Learn how utilities continue to transform their vision and platforms to accommodate customers during these difficult times. 

Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize the necessary components of using multiple channels for a positive customer experience
  • Discuss how CRM drives significant change for utilities in multiple areas: people, process, capabilities, and even behavioral change
  • Review how to implement customer panels at your utility to provide a strategic focus on reducing customer effort and increasing customer satisfaction
  • Explore how small group discussions with residential and business customers help uncover improvements and build customer advocates

 

Agenda

Systems Utilities are Implementing to Improve CX Including CRM

Today, many utilities are entertaining a CRM or other tools not to sell goods or commodities, but to provide their customers with a positive customer experience utilizing multiple channels. This workshop will share the latest on what utilities are doing to improve CX by implementing CRM and other applications to provide an outstanding customer experience. It will also include research on what utilities believe the priorities are for their customers, whether the cloud will play a part in their ultimate solution, and how they are procuring and implementing these services. Various utility case studies will be presented, including the CX journey from Entergy.

Jon Brock, Account Director, Utilities Practice, ISG

Jeremy Champlin, Director, Customer Service Delivery, Entergy

CX Strategy and Voice of the Customer Initiatives Drive Customer Satisfaction at Tucson Electric Power (TEP) 

With a strategic focus on reducing customer effort and increasing customer satisfaction, TEP launched a Customer Panel initiative as part of a broader customer experience strategy to collect and utilize the voice of the customer to develop, prioritize or launch projects.  While customer satisfaction research, tracking surveys and industry best practices helped to identify opportunities and define next steps, ultimately small group discussions with residential and business customers helped validate assumptions, uncover improvements, and build customer advocates.

During this session, TEP will share how they designed and implemented the program; mini-case studies on bill redesign, pre-pay energy, and a small business contact center; overall and project specific research findings that increased customer satisfaction; and how you could design and implement a cost-effective customer panel program at your company.

John Bord, Manager of Customer Experience, Tucson Electric Power

CRM at American Electric Power (AEP)

AEP has put a tremendous amount of work into their CRM implementation over the last few years.  This customer solution is being implemented in phases and provides a substantial modular platform that employs a cloud-based CRM integrated to an on-premise legacy CIS.  In this session, hear an update on how we phased in the Oracle CX CRM solution, how the components work together, lessons learned along the way, and what is coming up next to improve the customer journey at AEP.

Kim Jenkins, Customer Portfolio Management Lead, American Electric Power (AEP)

Speakers

  • Enzo Augimeri, Manager, Customer Service, Oakville Hydro

  • Alexis Blackstead, VP, Product, ACI Worldwide

  • Dan Bolger, Head of Sales, Government and Utilities, ACI Worldwide

  • Rich Brewer, Billing and Payments Director, Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA)

  • Jon Brock, Account Director, Utilities Practice, ISG

  • Theresa Burch, Manager Customer Solutions, Billing & Payment, Puget Sound Energy

  • Jeremy Fowler, Billing and Payments Manager, BC Hydro

  • Rob Gilpin, Director of Business Development, American Water Homeowner Services

  • Mathew Hung, Billing and Payments Manager, BC Hydro

  • Bridget A. Jones, Billing Services Manager, Baltimore Gas & Electric

  • Charlene Macfadden, Credit & Recovery Services Supervisor, Manitoba Hydro

  • Mark McCarthy, Managing Director, MUFG

  • Thuy Nguyen, Electronic Billing & Payment Manager, Southern California Gas Company (Invited)

  • Cheryl Reed, Credit & Recovery Services Supervisor, Manitoba Hydro

  • Andrew Reeves, Senior Business Analyst, Baltimore Gas & Electric

  • Steve Ryan, Principal Product Manager, KUBRA

  • Brad Umbrianna, Supervisor M-Power Operations, Salt River Project

  • Victoria Wells, Supervisor, Customer Invoice and Accounting, Entergy

  • John Winemiller, Supervisor, Customer Account Management, Austin Energy

Online Delivery

We will be using Microsoft Teams to facilitate your participation in the upcoming event. You do not need to have an existing Teams account in order to participate in the broadcast – the course will play in your browser and you will have the option of using a microphone to speak with the room and ask questions, or type any questions in via the chat window and our on-site representative will relay your question to the instructor.

  • IMPORTANT NOTE: After November 30 you will not be able to join a Teams meeting using Internet Explorer 11. Microsoft recommends downloading and installing the Teams app if possible. You may also use the Edge browser or Chrome.
  • You will receive a meeting invitation will include a link to join the meeting.
  • Separate meeting invitations will be sent for the morning and afternoon sessions of the course.
    • You will need to join the appropriate meeting at the appropriate time.
  • If you are using a microphone, please ensure that it is muted until such time as you need to ask a question.
  • The remote meeting connection will be open approximately 30 minutes before the start of the course. We encourage you to connect as early as possible in case you experience any unforeseen problems.

Register

Please Note: Confirmed speakers do not need to register and are encouraged to participate in all sessions of the event. If you are a speaker and have any questions please contact our offices at 1.303.770.8800

Please Note: This event is being conducted entirely online. All attendees will connect and attend from their computer, one connection per purchase. For details please see our FAQ

If you are unable to attend at the scheduled date and time, we make recordings available to all registrants for three business days after the event

Event Standard RateAttendees
Single Connection - Utility Billing and Payments ConferenceUS $ 1195.00
Pack of 5 connectionsUS $ 4,780.00
Pack of 10 ConnectionsUS $ 8,365.00
Pack of 20 ConnectionsUS $ 14,340.00
Call us at 303.770.8800 if you have any specific questions on the volume discounts
* all other discounts do not apply to license packs

This event has the following workshops:

The Essential Components of a CX UtilityUS $ 495.00

By registering I indicate I agree with EUCI's privacy policy and understand I may receive emailed reports, articles, event invitations and other information related to products and services from EUCI and any of our business partners. I understand I may unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link included in emails.

Take advantage of these discounts!

  • Attend the Conference and workshop and pay US $ 1,595.00 per attendee (save US $ 95.00 each)

Cancellation Policy

Your registration may be transferred to a member of your organization up to 24 hours in advance of the event. Cancellations must be received on or before June 25, 2021 in order to be refunded and will be subject to a US $195.00 processing fee per registrant. No refunds will be made after this date. Cancellations received after this date will create a credit of the tuition (less processing fee) good toward any other EUCI event. This credit will be good for six months from the cancellation date. In the event of non-attendance, all registration fees will be forfeited. In case of conference cancellation, EUCIs liability is limited to refund of the event registration fee only. For more information regarding administrative policies, such as complaints and refunds, please contact our offices at 303-770-8800

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CEUs

Credits

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EUCI has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).  In obtaining this accreditation, EUCI has demonstrated that it  complies with the ANSI/IACET Standard which is recognized internationally as a standard of good practice. As a result of their Authorized Provider status, EUCI is authorized to offer IACET CEUs for its programs that qualify under the ANSI/IACET Standard.

EUCI is authorized by IACET to offer 1.0 CEUs for this conference and 0.3 CEUs for the workshop.

Requirements for Successful Completion of Program

Participants must log in each day and be in attendance for the entirety of the course to be eligible for continuing education credit.

Instructional Methods

Case Studies, Panel Discussions and PowerPoint presentations

Who Should Attend

This conference was developed for those working or specializing in the following areas:

  • Retail mass market, commercial, and industrial customer billing
  • Wholesale billing
  • Electronic billing presentment and payment (EBPP)
  • Revenue management
  • Analytics
  • Customer service
  • Strategy and planning
  • Web services
  • Finance
  • Communications
  • E-business strategy
  • Business planning
  • Information systems
  • Community service and development
  • Pricing
  • AMI

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