It’s true: collecting payments for utilities is a tough gig. Between keeping up with new regulations, managing a constantly changing client base, and maintaining relationships with clients that have been in business for decades, there’s so much coming at you all the time that it’s no wonder you’re feeling overwhelmed.

But here’s the thing: we’ve been there. We know that feeling of being overworked and under-resourced. And we know what it takes to get through it.

Whether you’re a water utility, an electricity provider, or something in between, setting up your customer’s payment system and making sure it runs as it should is essential to your business operations. The bad news? It can be hard for customers to make payments — and even harder for them to trust that their information is safe when they do.

Now more than ever, consumers are demanding convenience and ease of use when it comes to all aspects of their customer experience. From ordering food on an app to streaming content on a handheld device, consumers expect everything they do to be simple and accessible at their fingertips. Utility companies want to provide this same level of convenience to their customers by offering more sophisticated payment options like automatic payments and online account management.

What’s Changing in the Industry

Utility companies are often known for their long wait times, complicated payment options, and confusing communication methods. But utility providers are now making strides to improve their customer service and make the process of paying your bill easier than ever.

As a utility company, you have special needs when it comes to payment processing. You need a way to interact with your customers that allows for easy, convenient payments while also being scalable enough to handle the diverse needs of a robust customer base.

Many companies now offer “chatbots” on their websites that will take you through a series of questions and direct you to a payment option. Gone are the days when you had to call on the phone and sit on hold for twenty minutes, only to be transferred twice before finally speaking with a representative who helps you make your payment. Now all it takes is a few clicks on your computer or phone screen and your payment is made.

Communication methods have also improved at many utility companies. Instead of waiting by your mailbox for a bill that might never come, you can now use online portals to access your account and change your billing preferences so that all future bills are sent to you by email. You no longer have to worry about losing or misplacing important documents as they will be safely stored in one place where they can be easily accessed whenever needed.

Obviously, these are the most basic changes in an already digitized world. Unfortunately, slow web portals with a lousy customer experience make up most of these examples.

Tilli’s Solution

One of our major utility providers’ customer service advocates worked with a slow and unwieldy user interface when inputting address changes or signing up customers on the phone. As a result, customers sometimes face challenges, often failing to locate needed and actionable information on the company’s website and communication channels. This led to increased call center volumes. As a result, the provider turned to Tilli to improve their customer service communication experience through email, SMS, push notifications, web, IVR, and mobile channels while reducing pressure on the customer service team and lowering costs. In addition, they wanted to fully exploit digital platforms to benefit their 1.2 million customers. 

 We built an advanced technology platform to provide customers with a consistent communication experience across web and mobile channels. We improved the provider’s existing customer communication experience to make it easier and more secure for customers to complete simple, actionable tasks, such as paperless enrollments, one-click bill payments, and installment plan enrollments. 

We also simplified digitally signed attestations for Covid Relief Funds, payment tokenization, digital signature, and payment collection for customer commitment letters. For customer service advocates, we created a solution to empower them to plan, design, and execute actionable and personalized campaigns that result in effective and measurable impacts, as highlighted below. These campaigns were fully integrated with SAP backend Hana systems in real-time, allowing for a single source of truth.

After the provider adopted our approach, customers could take control of their accounts through actionable activities and campaigns tailored to their behavior and preferences. Our solution allowed the customer service advocates to plan, design, and customize their nudges via an SAP-integrated online editor for managing personalized communication. The users adapted to the new methods of communication and convenience by adjusting and taking charge of their accounts with their utility provider.

With this solution, we saw:

  • A 200% increase in digital payments
  • A 200% increase in the digital adoption rate
  • 3,500,000 “nudges” handled per month
  • $60,249,453 payment processing total 

Our solution is indicative of a rapidly changing landscape for companies of all industries and sizes dealing with customers on a daily basis. If you’d like to discuss how we can help with your customer communication and payments, get in touch with us.


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