Keys to success: What should utilities expect from a digital payments partner

Digitizing customer interactions with utility providers takes efficient solutions, not just implementing shiny new technology. The right digital customer engagement and payments solution should save agencies time and money — and be convenient for customers. But this draws the question: What should utilities prioritize when exploring technology vendors?

It’s essential to consider the following attributes when choosing what vendor is right for you:

A user-first approach to design

UX design is centered around the “why, what, and how” of your customers. UX design ensures users’ needs are met, guaranteeing contentment with their experience. Design choices such as intuitive navigation, chatbots, accessibility features, and a self-serve help center can create a more human-centric environment.

And features like payment reminders and water usage monitoring, for instance, can help residents be more engaged and pay their bills on time, preventing late fees and service disconnections. UX design minimizes the burden on the user and makes paying bills easier — so residents are more likely to pay on time.

A true omnichannel payment experience

A convenient payment experience leads to reduced payment delinquency (and fewer disconnects).

Providing an omnichannel solution accommodates different preferences and ensures inclusivity. Multiple payment choices give residents the freedom to choose the best payment option for them — making it easier to both pay their bills and avoid service interruptions. Options like online payment, eBilling,  autopay, accepting cash, interactive voice response (IVR), and digital wallets are attractive features offered by payment vendors.

An omnichannel approach (through which a community can interact and engage with services) decreases late and delinquent payments (speeding time to revenue) and makes it easier for residents to pay their utility bills.

PCI compliance and data security are taken care of

PCI compliance exists to keep resident payment data secure, but the cost of certification and the software, hardware, and additional updates that are necessary to meet standards year after year adds up.

A more efficient approach? Partner with a vendor that meets all PCI compliance requirements. A vendor that meets Level 1 compliance (offering the highest level of security) relieves agencies from having to meet PCI standards on their own — saving staff hours of work, money that would be spent on compliance costs, and headaches that come with meeting regulations.

Another benefit of working with a PCI-compliant vendor: Customers and billing departments can be confident that their personal information will be safe. Security of customers’ personal and financial information is a major factor in choosing a digital payment vendor. 

To put it in perspective: The average cost of a data breach is around $4.35 million (a number that takes into account factors from legal, regulatory, and technical activities and loss of brand equity, customer turnover, and drain on employee productivity).

Partnership — from implementation to adoption

Why choose a vendor that stops at processing payments? A suitable vendor should offer a service that includes things such as technical support, a client success team, and assistance encouraging your customers to adopt the solution.

A good partnership helps increase customer adoption, boost employee and customer satisfaction, reduce delinquent bills, and increase the speed and total amount of revenue collected.

Rich analytics dashboard

To be effective, utility departments should have real-time access to payment data. Look for a vendor that includes an easy-to-understand analytics dashboard so your team can work effectively — using data to consistently improve internal processes and resident services.

Analyzing and using data is key to an optimized, modern tech experience. And by embracing digital transformation, agencies can increase utility earnings by 4% in the short-term (2-3 years) and by 25% in the long-term (5-10 years), according to estimates calculated by Kearney. Analytics support productivity, customer service, and earnings.

A digital payment vendor that can provide a rich analytic dashboard will help you realize these benefits from digital transformation. 

A great reputation

What experience does a payment vendor have? What is their track record? These are essential questions to consider when evaluating a vendor’s ability to serve utilities and their customers in an effective manner. Not sure where to start your research? Success stories and case studies can reveal a lot about a vendor.

These assets should highlight the important work a vendor has completed with other clients. Look for success stories that include stats, data, and quotes — a good combo of hard numbers and personal statements from clients.

Explore PayIt’s success stories here.

Learn more about how PayIt is helping upgrade digital experiences for utilities: City of Fort Smith Modernizes Service Delivery with PayIt.

If you want more in-depth information on evaluating and selecting a technology vendor, check out this Buyer’s Guide. It covers technical must-haves and other key requirements to consider.

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