30 Mar Why the Processes of Utility Organizations Need an Urgent Overhaul!
This is the third in a series of articles addressing the major problems faced by utility organizations today,
people, technology and processes.
In the previous articles, we explored the problems with an aging workforce
in the utility industry and how they are challenged with inadequate, user-unfriendly software with little or no support. We looked at length at the problems this was causing organizations, including employee disengagement and retention.
But there is one more major area that must be addressed by Utility Organizations, in order to prevent a downward spiral that could lead to disaster and that is an overhaul of their processes.
An incredible amount of time at work is wasted by inefficient systems
According to a 2014 survey by Salary.com, a staggering 89% of American workers say that parts of their day are used inefficiently and this problem is only getting worse, it has increased 20% jump just since 2013.
An example of a completely inefficient process common to the utility industry is paper billing. This is out of step with other industries because 59% of all bills were paid electronically in 2013 up from just 19% in 2003.
A recent study into increasing customer satisfaction levels found that It is estimated that utilities could save $12 annually for each customer using paperless billing, which would translate to $120,000 in savings for a utility with just 10,000 customers. Money that is badly needed by utility organizations struggling under the weight of inefficient funding and increased regulations.
Inefficient systems lead to an increase in customer complaints.
Experts estimate that 60% of calls to utility companies are from unhappy customers calling about billing challenges. And when customer details are not easy to bring up, it leads to frustration and anger on the other end of the line.
Nothing impacts on the morale of your staff as much as abusive customer complaints. This causes stress, a loss of productivity, poor staff retention and the huge cost of recruiting and training new staff.
These are costs no utility organization can really afford to bear.
Paperless billing and online payment processing will not only save you money, increase staff morale and productivity, they also improve your cash flow.
When people pay their bills online, with a credit card, the money is instantly there and instantly available for your organization to use. Compare this with the time it takes for a check to be posted in, then processed at your office, sent to the bank and then finally the wait for it to clear.
The billing cycle is also shortened by the fact that people pay quickly when you make it easy for them. When they have to take time out of their day to visit your billing office or a post office to end their payment, they will often put it off until the last minute.
Improving your cash flow will have almost as much positive impact on your organization as the cost savings will.
Improving your software and your processes in one sweep
When you upgrade your software system, two important requirements are integration and processes. Your new system should address and help automate your processes and integrate with your other important systems, such as accounting, to cut down on inefficiencies in your office.
The integrated Utility billing system incorporates paperless billing and online bill payments. It also makes it easy to integrate with your accounting system and generate reports in a form you can use to fit in with your current reporting practices.