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That’s it! You’ve made the choice on a Utility Billing Solution that feels right for your entity! What a load off!Now comes what could be the hard part…. selling it to the boss and the board.
Hopefully, they have been involved in the process throughout your search, but we understand that often for entities that need to utilize utility billing software, there are a lot of stakeholders involved in the process. Board members, other department heads, co-workers, city planners, technicians, and more rightfully may have a say in this decision.
At the same time, change is hard, and a lot of people are understandably apprehensive to change, especially one that is related to how your entity makes money.
It is hard to change any software system, especially one that can be central to how you make money and with so much uncertainty in the future.
So, where do you start to convince others, that it's time for an upgrade?
Start by being proactive and find the opportunities to hear any fears and anxieties from your team.
Hold some internal town hall style meetings with your co-workers. Give them a call to see how they would feel about the upgrade and really listen to what they have to say.
Another option could be to send out an anonymous survey to your co-workers to give a way for people to list their concerns in a safe environment. Especially be sure to seek out feedback from those who use the software every day.
After you gather any fears, it is time to arm yourself with as much justification as you can for how your choice.
Is someone afraid of having to learn new software? Talk about why your chosen solution is intuitive, easy to use, and has proper training documentation.
Is someone afraid of process workflow and more “added work?” Talk about the support systems in place and how you may be able to utilize the tool more efficiently than your current solution.
Be sure to use your potential solution provider’s sales reps to your advantage here. Ask the questions you have collected from your team and have them help to put together documentation that addresses how they specifically addresses the fears of your group.
That may take some time and energy to compile, but it is going to be one of the biggest advantages for helping you champion internal advocates for change.
Which you will need once we start talking about one of the biggest complaints you will hear…. price.
For most decision makers, it all comes down to dollars and cents.
In fact, we imagine that is part of the reason you have even gone down the rabbit hole of trying to find a new solution in the first place.
Hopefully through the research process you have had to do some discovery on how much your solution costs. But in case you have not, this is a HUGE opportunity to make a price justification for upgrading.
Software price is not your only cost center.
Calculating the price of your current tool has to be more nuanced and include the cost of inefficiencies.
The easiest place to start is to compile the total of what you’re paying today. Start by looking at your current utility billing software by asking questions like:
It is incredibly important to calculate the cost of printing, postage and envelops in this process as well.
Some popular Utility Billing solutions offer printing and billing services as well as the software to process that information. Some even will send the bills out on your behalf! Their size often allows for better postage rates than you can get on your own due to how many bills they process, so understanding your current costs are vital.
Depending on how old your system is and whether it is hosted in house or elsewhere, you may need to do some historical research to see how much you paid for it. Seek your finance team or the head of the department to see how much you paid for your solution and when you paid it.
After you figure out the cost of your current system it is time to dig into the hidden costs.
The best way to start calculating the cost of inefficiencies is to identify where you have process inefficiencies and then use that to calculate the impact to your business.
To start, ask yourself questions to root out process inefficiencies such as:
Be sure to track the most common questions your customer service team hears every day and see if there are any commonality to the inquiries they’re receiving. Your customers will often let you know where your processes are suffering.
While you are gathering some of that information you can also begin to map out customer experience. Mind mapping tools, such as PowerPoint, LucidChart or even a whiteboard, can help to map out your processes to spot inefficiencies easier.
For utilities, we recommend starting with the process of a user connecting their service and go all the way through monthly bills and even disconnection of service to see how your solution reacts to each of those instances.
Once you have identified your process inefficiencies, you can begin to calculate the actual dollars and cents costs to your company. We love using this formula from Conal Siddall from Jigsaw24.com:
Cost of inefficiency x frequency = inefficiency cost
Cost of lost opportunity x frequency = lost opportunity cost
Inefficiency cost + lost opportunity cost = total loss
This formula is a fantastic way to calculate the total loss from all those inefficiencies you identified and make the dollars and cents case for how software can save you a lot of money.
Be sure to have your customer support team track calls and inquiries to determine how frequent those instances happen. If you don’t have a ticketing system or a CRM, just a sheet of paper with common issues and Talley marks will give you a great idea of how frequent those inefficiencies happen.
If you have problems finding the cost of each inefficiency, you can look at the hourly cost for the employee who is impacted the most. Also, if you are using a third-party provider for customer support then their total monthly cost divided by the hours you use them for support will help you to determine the cost of the inefficiency.
Now that you have figured out how much your system costs you, including the cost of inefficiencies, you can weigh that number against the total cost of your new solution.
At this point, be sure to use the sales staff of your potential utility billing solution to your advantage and let them do the challenging work for you. Provide them your process map and your inefficiency costs and let them determine how their solution will help to save you money.
You can also have them provide you the option of printing services compared to your current provider to see if that will save your utility billing entity costs.
One area that we have seen immediate beneficial returns is around an online customer portal, particularly if you do not have a current solution for eBilling.
Calculate the postage savings that you can qualify for if 20%, 30% and 40% of your customers switch to eBilling exclusively!
Be sure to use those numbers to help justify the expenditure of your solution to the board!
Now that you have all your data, it is time to present your findings well! A good first impression on a presentation is slide design. Be sure to use a good slide template if your entity does not have a standard one. We love Microsoft template library or the HubSpot library of slides to give us a great start for an impactful presentation.
Remember not to overwhelm the slide with too much data. A good rule of thumb is to present a single problem, how much it costs, and then how the new solution will solve that problem.
Also be sure to appease each of the different learning types throughout your presentation process. Engaging each learning type during the presentation will help to ensure that the information you are presenting is sticky while also making it engaging and inclusive for everyone in the room.
Here are some quick tips we love:
You also do not have to have all the answers. Remember that it’s okay to follow up with correct information after you have had the chance to research the questions you hear.
And remember to be confident and helpful! You have done a lot of research up to this point, so let your knowledge and expertise show!
That’s it! You’ve done it!
You have made a solid case for why you should upgrade your utility billing system using facts and monetary justifications. When you look back, you may say “this was a lot of work” but just remember that new software creates opportunities for better efficiency.
If you need any assistance in this process, the MuniBilling staff is happy to help walk through the data collection process, analysis and even help with the presentation of our solution. Just request a demo to get the process started.