Digital transformation has increased both the challenges and opportunities facing utility companies. Renewables and smart grid technology are changing the way utility companies operate and demanding that they increase their capabilities.
The competition for customers continues to ramp up as utility companies struggle to retain the customers they already have. To effectively compete, utility companies are being forced to adopt a multichannel approach and improve all of their processes, including customer payment systems. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) found that in 2019, around 50% of all bill payments were made automatically (e.g. via direct debit or subscription billing). This percentage is twice as high as 2013.
As the use of cash and personal cheque payments decline, utility companies can reap many benefits by automating bill payments. Australian utility companies need to begin offering payment solutions that make it exceedingly easy for customers to pay their bills conveniently and on time. The best way to do this is by adopting a digital payment system that can handle ever-changing needs.
To update yourself on the latest on this front, read our blog: Utility Sector & Digital Transformation)
WHY UTILITIES NEED TO PROVIDE AN EXCEPTIONAL PAYMENTS EXPERIENCE TO CUSTOMERS
The Australian utility industry offers a variety of services, including water, gas, and electricity. But though your services and infrastructure can often be complex, your payment systems don’t have to be.
Offering efficient and easy payment solutions is the best way to keep your current customers happy while expanding your customer base. Here are four reasons utility companies should focus on providing customers with an exceptional payment experience.
1. Give customers the freedom to pay
Is there anything more annoying than trying to pay a bill only to learn that the vendor only accepts one or two payment methods? As a utility, you can offer your customers a variety of payment options including but not limited to: online payments, digital wallets, credit card payments, and ACH. And thanks to tokenisation and enhanced security features, you can confidently assure your customers that their online utility payments are processed securely.
At Bambora, we treat the integrity of your data as paramount. Our customer profiling, predictive behaviour and learning models identify and block fraudulent transactions - all while ensuring that your customers enjoy an uninterrupted payments experience via 3D Secure, CVV Verification, fingerprint verification and token.
2. Customer retention
Convenience-focused payment features like single-click checkout, subscriptions billing and digital wallets have become second nature to customers. They may not notice if you offer these, but you’ll certainly stand out for not offering them!
In the competitive Australian utility industry, if you’re lacking these solutions, you’re putting customer satisfaction & retention in a precarious position.
After all, customer-centric experiences are one the best ways to differentiate your company and retain customers. And when it comes to customer retention, providing subscription and recurring payments can really automate the payments process for your customers. According to research from MasterCard, 30% of customers would be willing to switch utilities if a competitor offered recurring payments.
Flexible payments give customers greater freedom to pay their bills and can even reduce the number of customer service calls you’ll have to deal with.
3. Cost control
If you’re looking for a way to cut down on costs, getting rid of paper-based and legacy systems is one of the best ways to do it. This is especially important for large utility companies.
Eliminating paper processes and manual tasks reduces the time your staff spend working and will help your company operate more efficiently. And providing convenient payments also encourages customers to pay their bills on time no matter where they are, which improves your cash flow and bottom line.
All the same, automation that comes at the cost of personalised customer relationships can ultimately result in greater customer churn. To avoid this, utilities need a payments solutions provider that can offer features like utility bill personalisation, tailored payment options like IVR and custom checkout. After all, customer churn is a massive cost to the business given that the cost of acquiring a new customer is many times higher than retaining an existing one.
4. Speed matters
Of course, just offering online payments isn’t enough. It’s hard for companies to remain competitive in the marketplace if they can’t offer speedy, secure payments. Finding a good utility payment gateway is the best way to decrease your load time.
A fast and secure payments solution ensures that your customers will have a good experience on your payments portal. This translates to fewer complaints and tickets for your service centre to resolve.
That's not all, speed in payments alerts, verification and confirmations all through the bill payment process contributes to the convenience customers have come to expect.
PAYMENT SOLUTION MUST-HAVES FOR UTILITY & ENERGY COMPANIES
Offering the right payment solutions can help you keep up with changing customer demands and cut costs on your end. Here are the three must-have features for utilities looking to provide an exceptional checkout experience:
Tokenisation involves replacing sensitive customer data with non-sensitive data without losing all the essential details required to process payments. This ensures your customer’s sensitive data cannot be exploited by fraudsters. Tokenisation also helps you reduce your PCI DSS compliance scope.
Tokenisation works well for any company that offers recurring and subscription-based payments. The encrypted tokens can be stored securely which allows customers to save their payment information and use ‘one-click’ payments for future transactions (as opposed to filling out a form at check-out every single time).
Paying on the go is quickly becoming the norm as users become used to settling bills wherever they want. Easy mobile SDK integration means you can accept in-app and mobile payments. Mobile payment apps allow customers to enter and save their credit and debit card information in the app and pay when they’re ready.
IVR: Interactive Voice Recognition
Interactive voice recognition replaces human interaction with computer technology. Instead of providing live customer service operators, businesses can route calls to an IVR system.
Bambora’s automated telephony system interacts with callers, providing a simple billing solution for your customers who want to pay over the phone. This allows customers to pay quickly without having to wait on hold for a customer service representative.
These platforms are PCI compliant, easy to set up, and available in multiple languages. And they’re always available to customers so your business is never truly closed for the day.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM BAMBORA'S UTILITY PAYMENTS SOLUTIONS
Bambora helps utility companies grow by providing expanded payment solutions. You can reconcile payments quickly, offer your customers multiple payment options, cut down on your manual admin tasks and reduce costs.
Here are just some of the things you can expect from our payment services:
- Superior payment management: You can authorise, capture, purchase, refund and process batch payments.
- Manage chargebacks: Our solution makes it easier to understand and mitigate potential chargebacks.
- Direct Debit: This allows you to enjoy a reliable, well-forecasted revenue stream.
Bambora provides utility and energy payment processing solutions for companies of all sizes. To learn more about our payment solutions, feel free to contact our team with any questions you have.