As utilities companies strive to meet rapidly evolving customer expectations, boost efficiency, improve cash flow, and reduce the cost to serve, the New Payments Platform (NPP) offers vast opportunity. In this report, KPMG in collaboration with Commonwealth Bank of Australia, explore the opportunities for utilities to improve the payment flow and relationships with their customers using the NPP.
In today’s digital, disruptive world, customers not only demand excellent products from the organisations that they engage with, but service efficiency, immediacy, and pre-emptive action to meet their ever changing needs.
For utilities customers, this translates to an expectation of seamless payment options, no ‘bill shock’, no unnecessary ‘overdue’ notices, no misdirected funds, no utility connection time lags after payment, and no lost payments.
“We know in utilities that a large proportion of calls into a contact centre are related to payments, so there is an opportunity to make a step change for customers in this space,” says Cassandra Hogan, National Sector Leader, Power & Utilities, KPMG. “We need to ask, what can be done to support utilities and their customers to interact better, to assist in making the payments process flexible and smooth, to better manage cash flow, and enhance the customer experience?”
For these challenges, the NPP represents an opportunity to make a real difference.
The NPP has the potential to help improve the payment flow and relationships between utilities and their customers in many ways. Some examples include:
Real-time payments for efficiency – the near real-time payment capability of the NPP will help to eliminate scenarios where a payment reminder is sent to a customer after they have in fact paid.
Manage bill shock – a utility could use smart meter insights (such as monthly/daily consumption) to provide recommendations on how the customer could optimise the tariff they are on, to pre-pay to avoid bill shock, or to help them to establish billing cycles that suit their personal needs.
Micro or pre-pay options – utilities could combine smart meter readings with the customer’s payment patterns to offer real-time daily payment options through the NPP.
Incentivising slow payers – with the NPP, organisations can engage a ‘Request to Pay’ Overlay Service, which is being designed between BPAY and major banks, through which payment requests are sent directly to a customer’s banking app on their phone.
Reliable reconciliation – by using NPP’s ‘Request to Pay’ functionality, the utility can include a reference number that stays with the request, and subsequent payment, without the customer ever having to enter an identifier, easing reconciliation issues.
“The NPP provides a real opportunity for utilities to enhance customer experience while also providing for productivity and cost savings by improving traditional processes.”
– Brett Watson, Partner, Payments Advisory, KPMG
“Now is the time for utilities to start thinking about the customer experiences they could offer – and how these will impact their operating model and the required skillsets of their people.”
– Cassandra Hogan, National Sector Leader, Power & Utilities, KPMG