Using Data to Manage Utilities Debt Collection

Using Data to Manage Utilities Debt Collection

Bill payment is one of the biggest priorities for utility companies and the clock starts ticking as soon as the due date arrives. There are certain segments of customers that never need reminders and will pay on time every single month. There are other segments that might be late here and there, but for the most part always pay the bill. Unfortunately, there are segments that are habitually late, are behind month after month, require service disruption or are simply going through a difficult time and cannot come up with the money right now.

Many utility companies are using customer data to segment certain demographics or behavior patterns in order to more effectively communicate with customers, but it is still evolving. Having a targeted strategy in place for bill payment allows the debt recovery process to run more smoothly, as well as provides a better overall experience for your customers.

Based on what we’ve learned in building debt collection strategies for multiple industries, as well as adapting to evolving digital communication preferences, below are three areas in which utility companies could utilize customer data to enhance bill payment and debt collection strategies for a more personal approach that customers will appreciate.

  1. Infrastructure – Outdated internal systems and processes can make it difficult for utility companies to access data, let alone tailor communication strategies according to specific customer segments. Infrastructure investments and/or outsourcing partnerships can make communicating with customers easier. These investments allow companies to reach customers via the channels they prefer, allow account scoring based on propensity to pay to guide treatment strategies and investment, as well as access the correct customer data to determine behavior patterns, credit history, etc.
  2. Early stage management – This is the most critical time period for bill payment. Focusing on the right strategies and messaging to your customers between day one overdue and delinquent status can make a big impact in results. Using customer data to make risk analysis decisions at this stage allows tailored treatment that increases revenues while also increasing customer satisfaction. We discussed early stage outsourcing alternatives in utilities debt collection in a previous post, however using data to custom-tailor messages to different segments of customers will take your program up a level.
  3. Recovering lost customers – There is skip tracing software available to locate customers who’ve re-located, as well as other data points such as if a customer declared bankruptcy, is deceased, etc. The combination of data analytics and customer segmentation will help track customers and personalize interaction and collection strategy. The key is striking the balance between effective outreach and customer satisfaction.

Approaching each customer with an understanding of his or her own unique situation will result in more payments, sooner; recovered lost revenue; as well as increased customer satisfaction.

Here at CBE Companies, we have the infrastructure and data management strategies in place to help utility companies manage debt collection at any point in the billing cycle. For questions or to learn more about our utility collection and customer service solutions contact us here.