Utility billing solutions are platforms or systems used to monitor, oversee, and bill utility customers, or anyone receiving water, gas, electricity, or other services. This type of billing relies on meters to track and monitor usage information, pairing this data with an established rate structure that determines the amount charged during each billing period.
The Advantages of Utility Billing Solutions
Utility billing solutions offer many advantages, such as reduced cost-to-serve and higher levels of customer satisfaction.
1. Reduced Cost-to-Serve
Producing accurate billing statements takes time, energy, and resources, placing a substantial burden on your business. Fortunately, the right utility billing strategy can help to support any level of complexity, which reduces the overall costs associated with exception handling, printing, and sending bills.
2. Strong Customer Support
Efficient utility billing solutions create reliable bills that customers understand. They also offer transparency and clear insights for utility staff which supports first-call resolution in the case that customers do call in. For customers that prefer not to call, self-service solutions are invaluable to customers and take customer support to the next level.
3. Accuracy and Efficiency
Utility billing solutions allow for billing processes to be run at any time of day and ensure that statements are sent and delivered in a timely manner each month. This improves organizational cash flow by minimizing late payments and outstanding charges.
4. Improved Marketing Campaigns
Effective billing solutions give utilities the ability to complement statements with personalized marketing messages. This allows them to improve program adoption and upsell services and products to groups of customers with specific needs, ensuring that the right audience will receive the right message and increasing revenue for your organization.
Types of Utility Billing Solutions
There are several types of utility billing solutions currently available, each with a number of advantages and disadvantages:
Cloud-based billing solutions are less expensive upfront, which leads to a higher profit for the utility company and less overall risk.
- Pros: Fast implementation, higher levels of security and protection, frequent updates, real-time monitoring (e.g., when a customer pays their bill, it’s immediately reflected on their bill), 24/7 access to billing data and information, flexibility, and scalability
- Cons: Risk of data breaches, unpredictable costs, intricate billing data that can be confusing
On-premises billing solutions focus on creating bills and monthly statements in-house, which can offer convenience for organizations.
- Pros: Convenience and efficiency, direct physical access to important customer information
- Cons: Expensive, state-of-the-art equipment that needs to be updated regularly, higher operating costs, new software and hardware, greater risk to physical harm (natural disasters, etc.), more maintenance overall
Purchasing and building your own billing solution may sound ideal for some businesses. However, although this option can offer some cost savings and convenience, each organization has different needs, and no one-size-fits-all solution will work for everyone.
- Pros: Fewer costs for customer acquisitions, improved customer retention, consistent revenue, fewer human resource-related expenses, and long-term maintenance costs
- Cons: Difficult to define and accurately implement requirements until the build is already underway, may cost more time and resources in the long run, requires in-depth and capable subscription billing software
Choosing the Right Billing Solution
When exploring available billing solutions, utilities should consider a variety of factors, such as the amount of time it takes to implement, the necessary hosting services for end-to-end management, the overall network maintenance costs and needs, and the required security and compliance testing to ensure efficiency, longevity, and reliability.
Choosing a trusted billing solutions provider like VertexOne can alleviate many of these concerns. Our methodology reduces time to market and prioritizes long-term partnerships, whereas other vendors may implement a new billing system and disappear—failing to resolve any future issues a business may face.
Start improving your customer experience and business operations. Download The Guide to the Ultimate Utility Customer Information System to learn more about the utility billing solutions available today.
This article was originally published in July 2021. The title has has been updated for accuracy and relevance.