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Utility customers expect to solve billing issues with accessibility, flexibility, and ease.
Many businesses make use of a self-service portal to empower their customers. Self-service portals allow your customers to adjust their accounts, update information, view usage, and pay bills at their own convenience, both in time and place.
Customer portals can also increase your customer satisfaction, increase efficiency, reduce operational costs, free up your current staff, and keep you compliant with new or unforeseen regulations with minimal impact to your daily operations. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the future of customer satisfaction relies on self-service portals.
Self-service is your customer’s first option when they encounter an issue. According to the Harvard Business Review, 81% of customers will try to resolve an issue themselves before reaching out to a service representative. Furthermore, 67% of customers state they prefer self-service over speaking to a customer representative (Zendesk).
Additionall, customer service phone calls may soon be a thing of the past. In one survey, 75% of millennials reported they avoid talking on the phone, citing it as too time-consuming.
Your customers want the ease and accessibility that comes with self-service. They want the ability to pay bills, update information, and resolve issues anytime, anywhere, and based on their schedules.
Customers who resolve issues on their own time accomplish what they need to without initiate a time-consuming live interaction, which eats away at not only their time but at your employee’s time.
This is before we account for the labor and operational costs to provide a full team of customer service representatives.
When McDonalds needed to improve operational efficiency to sell more burgers, they didn’t think about adding on more headcount. They looked at improving operational efficiencies with their labor and facilities first.
In the past, when customers needed assistance, there were three traditional methods of reaching your entity: phone, live chat, or email. All three methods require an employee on the other end to manage that service ticket and move it through.
But the labor cost to provide that level of service is high, especially when your customers are avoiding phone calls. By reducing the labor costs to manage those repetitive inquiries and allowing your customers to answer them through self-service, you can save as much as $11 per call – potentially even more! (Oracle.)
It’s easy to figure that cost for your entity as well. Start by categorizing the types of calls you receive.
Are the majority people looking to pay a bill? Input a service order or connect/disconnect service? How many of those calls do you get a day?
After you have data for the types of calls you receive, track how long it takes for your rep to handle the call. Be sure to include the time it takes to input any data after a call into the system. Take that amount of time per call combined with the number of calls you receive and divide that by your employee’s salary. Now you have a number that really impacts your bottom line.
Now, imagine if that number was handled entirely by your customer. How much money do you save?
Do you know who benefits from all that time saved? Your employees.
Most customer service and support (CSS) leaders indicate that nearly 20% to 40% of their live volume could be resolved in self-service channels (Gartner). Creating a customer portal removes those repetitive tickets can really save not only your employee’s time, but their sanity as well.
Staff retention is a top priority. In just six months last year, 20 million people quit their jobs (CBS). Job satisfaction is becoming more and more important for every type of employee, and repetitive tasks are becoming increasingly frustrating.
By focusing on organizational efficiency, you’re not only impacting the bottom line but allowing employees to focus on big-picture goals and feel empowered by their work.
You don’t want frequently employee turnover. Training new team members takes a lot of time and money – precious resources you don’t want to waste! Keeping your employees engaged by protecting them from time-consuming and repetitive tasks will safeguard your stability and save you money in the long run.
In February of 2021, many cities in Texas were hit with the “big freeze” that left many homes and business out of power for almost 2 weeks (Wikipedia). From hurricanes to tornadoes and floods, similar natural disasters have hit other parts of the US and the impact to the infrastructure systems can be huge. We can’t prevent emergencies, but we can prepare for them.
If you’re running seasonal discounts, construction for a certain neighborhood, or even alerts to single employees, a customer portal can help you communicate to your customers quickly and in a way that they can’t miss.
Without a customer portal you’re often left with ineffective or slower means of communication or complex and multi-stepped process of communication, often using separate unintegrated systems.
Utilizing a customer portal safeguards you and your employees from potential communication interruptions.
According to one source, we produce 85 million tons of paper waste each year, averaging 680 pounds of paper per person. Paper makes up 40% of the waste dumped into landfills, and 70% of waste produced by workplaces is paper.
Being environmentally conscious doesn’t have to be to a determent to the bottom line or customer experience.
An average sheet of paper costs your business between $0.05 -$0.10 (not counting any sorts of bulk discounts), combined with the time and labor costs to print out a bill and package an envelope, and finally add a $0.58 stamp to send out first class on top. You can be looking at significant cost… Especially when multiplied by the number of customers you bill for.
Now imagine that entire cost process was removed for just 20% of your customer base. How much time and money does that save you a month?
Customer portals allow your entity to completely remove paper and billing for a significant amount of your business, which helps our landfill capacity and helps you to save money with your customers.
It’s not only our obligation to reduce waste where we can. Removing paper and manual process from workforce management is the key to modernization and a simple step to go green.
Self-service portals can improve your entity in several ways and allow you to be more flexible and profitable, with the added best of improved customer satisfaction.
Helpful tips and reminders for why self-service portals are important:
If your organization is interested in scheduling a demo for software that allows fully functional self-service portals, contact MuniBilling for a demo.