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Customer Engagement

Don’t Let Your First Customer Bill Be Your Last – Eliminate Bill Shock

By Janki Dhamsania, Sr. Video Solution Consultant, Pitney Bowes

Moving into a new home is no one’s idea of a carefree weekend. Sure, there’s the excitement that comes with finding a new place to call home and a new neighborhood to explore. But, the actual process of packing up your life, physically moving scores of boxes from point A to B and then spending hours, if not days, unpacking those boxes again is a stressful and tiring experience. Switching over your utilities, whether it’s just updating the address or changing providers altogether, should be a relatively simple task to throw on top of all this.

Unfortunately, all too often, what should be easy and carefree here can be anything but, thanks to two simple words: bill shock.

Buying a new home or switching utility providers for any reason means receiving a new, first-time bill from multiple service providers. These bills are not that easy to parse in the first place, between both the litany of expenses they contain and the confusing language that is supposed to clear up any questions and often doesn’t. But, when you factor in the pro-rated charges, one time fees and advanced payment fees that typically accompany first-time bills, customers may find these initial notices shocking, with a bottom line that’s far more expensive than they were first quoted.

First Thoughts of a Bill Shocked Customer

That kind of sticker shock leads customers, already stressed out from moving, to bombard their new provider with a series of questions and requests:

  • Why do I owe this much? Why is my bill so high?
  • What are these pro-rated charges and why do I have them?
  • Help me understand my bill.
  • When do I need to pay this?
  • How can I sign up for automatic payments?
  • How can I sign up for paperless billing?
  • What is your customer service contact number?
  • Why can’t I ever get answers quickly?

This leaves not only confused customers frustrated, but floods utility provider call centers with the same kinds of queries, over and over again, dragging down their call center rep’s productivity.

Staffing, training and motivating call center employees is a tough and expensive job. But, you also want to be in a position where you can help the customer, and make a strong first and lasting impression. How do you do that?

Making a Better First Impression

All of this can be avoided right out of the gate by taking a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to billing.

Rather than send the bill to the customers and wait for the upset and panicked calls to pour in, reach out to them first. Send out notices explaining what they can expect on their first bill, what pro-rated charges, fees and advanced payments will be tacked on to the bill (and, for that matter, what pro-rating a charge means), why these charges are only temporary and how customers can expect lower costs on subsequent bills.

You can make it even easier for customers. After all, what’s easier than reading about your bill? Watching and listening to someone talk to you about your bill. Consumers are devoting more time and money to keeping their eyes glued to their screens. You can take advantage of that by utilizing interactive personalized video solutions to break down the nuances of their individual utility bills.

Utility providers that have pulled together integrated, omnichannel approaches to storing customer information and opening both inbound and outbound lines of communication are ahead of the curve when it comes to proactively minimizing consumer fears about pro-rated bills. By getting out ahead of time to soothe these concerns, you make a stronger, positive and reassuring first impression with customers. That not only produces stronger ties between you and the customer, it also cuts down sharply on the volume of angry bill shock-related calls that utility provider call centers have to field, so that they can allocate their time and effort into something more productive.

Pitney Bowes EngageOne® Video Billing Template anticipates the questions that potentially bill shocked customers have and can answer them before they’re asked. This seamless, automated and proactive approach to customer communications ensures that utility providers are making the best first impressions with customers and sparing their call centers from being bogged down by billing queries.

Still need come convincing? Check out a demo video of the EngageOne Video Billing Template in action to see for yourself.

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