If you’ve been reading the Utility Information Pipeline for any length of time, you’re probably aware that I’m an outspoken proponent of utilities accepting credit cards. In fact, I wrote about this all the way back in Utility Information Pipeline #4 (you can read it here if you missed it).

During a presentation of our software to a progressive utility recently, we had a discussion about payment methods. In the course of conversation, they mentioned they do not charge a convenience fee for credit card payments.

Reducing in-office payments

By implementing IVR and online bill pay, this utility reduced the number of in-office payments handled by their staff from 40% of all payments to 22%. Remember, I said this was a progressive utility, so they were already offering bank drafts, using a lockbox for mail payments and receiving online banking checks electronically.

Their rationale for not charging a convenience fee and absorbing the cost of processing credit card payments is they are not creating a deterrent to their customers paying by credit card. This, in turn, has reduced the number of payments processed in the office due to:

  • fewer walk-in payments
  • phone credit card payments are no longer handled by a customer service representative
  • more ways for customers to pay

What office wouldn’t want to reduce the number of payments processed by their staff?

Growth without adding staff

This reduction in the number of in-office payments has allowed this utility to continue to grow while moving from bi-monthly to monthly billing without adding any additional staff. Now, that’s impressive!

Even if you don’t have plans to bill twice as often, as this utility did, wouldn’t allowing your staff to spend less time processing payments be a good thing?

Do you know how well your office is doing?

Do you have a feel for what percentage of payments are processed in your office? If not, is this a metric you should start tracking…?

If you have taken steps to reduce the number of payments processed in your office, I would love to hear what you’ve done and you can click here to post your comments.

If you are interested in reducing the number of payments processed in your office or becoming more efficient in other ways, please contact me by calling 919-232-2320 or e-mailing me at gsanders@logicssolutions.com to see how a business review could help your utility.

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© 2012 Gary Sanders

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