Like any business, a utility has two essential goals—to produce and provide safe and reliable service while bringing in a steady revenue stream.
Although this may sound simple, it is more difficult than one might think. Inaccurate meter usage readings, late payments, and billing errors can easily lead to lost revenue or dissatisfied customers.
What is the meter-to-cash process?
The meter-to-cash process is a daily process carried out by utilities to measure user consumption, generate and distribute accurate bills, collect monthly customer payments, and achieve reliable revenue recognition.
Revenue generation and growth are top goals for water and energy utilities, but they are unlikely to be achieved without integrating innovative technology into processes, such as smart water meters or a customer information system (CIS). Water and energy providers across the country are experiencing massive infrastructure overhauls to accommodate newly developing technology, and those that refuse to adapt to the ever-changing needs of modern customers and communities will eventually become obsolete.
What can a meter-to-cash process do?
Growth and development of utility technology like smart metering and customer information systems (CIS) have provided new, efficient ways to handle processes and pain points. Billing issues and questions are the top reasons customers contact their utility service providers. When problems arise, response time matters, so customer support specialists must have quick access to user data when answering time-sensitive billing questions. An effective meter-to-cash solution not only helps customers better understand their bills, but also makes them more likely to submit payments on time.
Bill generation through the meter-to-cash process should possess the following qualities:
- Accurate customer consumption tracking and management.
- Correct billing that is free of errors and unnecessary charges.
- A multi-channel bill generation and delivery process (e.g., mail, email, user portal).
- Convenient, flexible, and user-friendly payment options.
How can I optimize the meter-to-cash process?
An effective meter-to-cash process must be configured according to flow demand and the size of areas served. The accompanying CIS is a crucial aspect of an effective meter-to-cash process, so it must be convenient, easy to learn, and accessible to customers, with the ability to handle complex rate structures and payment programs.
Some utilities are still using meter-to-cash processes that aren’t automated. A lack of automation can waste valuable time and resources, lead to easily preventable errors, and drain revenue from utilities.
Modern CIS billing solutions should be able to:
- Track and manage large volumes of data generated by advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). The CIS should also have the capacity to derive insights from this information, recognizing the need for necessary adaptations or changes.
- Respond to new regulations, mandates, and local compliance requirements to streamline energy efficiency and solve market structures or billing issues. Rate structures, billing, and retail are constantly evolving, so utilities must know how to respond to these changes.
- Design and implement more effective business models for revenue security and the ever-changing difficulties of the grid, such as load management, energy resource distribution, and more.
- Allow integration with software or hardware platforms developed around distributed energy resources.
- Provide self-service to customers using online portals, automatic payments, and more. This should give registered users digital access to their information at all times, along with timely notifications that encourage improved payment performance.
- Provide customer service representatives with updated, accurate information about customer accounts, preferably in real-time.
Enhance your utility with an optimized meter-to-cash process.
An effective meter-to-cash process allows utilities to accurately measure user consumption, generate and distribute bills, collect timely customer payments, and achieve reliable revenue recognition. With many different components, a meter-to-cash process relies heavily on the integration of modern CIS billing systems and strong customer support.
To learn more about how an effective meter-to-cash process can benefit water utilities, watch our webinar here: VertexOne ACE21 Virtual Session: Optimizing the Meter-to-Cash Process.