Two issues ago, I wrote about offering more convenient due dates for senior citizens. Another customer friendly service you might consider offering is third party notification. Third party notification allows someone other than the customer (and the utility, thus the term “third party”) to be notified of bills and delinquencies.
Duplicate copies of bills and delinquent notices
If your billing software allows you to do so, you can mail a duplicate copy of the bill to a third party, such as a child or caretaker of an elderly customer. Many utilities, in states where the landlord is ultimately responsible for payment of the bill, mail a duplicate copy of the bill to the landlord.
Of course, this means you will incur additional costs in the form of postage and forms cost, unless you offer paperless billing as a third party option.
Call list before cut-off for non-payment
Another, more common, option for third party notification is to call the third party as you are reviewing the cut-off list.
If your billing software offers a third party notification call list, you can call from that. But even if it doesn’t, it should be easy enough to enter a comment on the account with the third party name and phone number. If customer comments print on your cut-off list, you can use this to call from.
Even if you can’t print customer comments with your cut-off list, it should be easy enough to cross-reference your cut-off list with a separate third party call list.
Avoid a public relations nightmare
Nobody wants to work for the utility that makes it on the 6:00 news for turning utilities off for a homebound senior citizen. Offering third party notification is one way to be sure you don’t work for that utility.
If you have questions about third party notification or other customer friendly initiatives, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2012 Gary Sanders