Collecting debts within an online context is notoriously unreliable, with all manner of potential hurdles and unexpected stumbling blocks along the way. Having a third party travel from door to door is hardly sustainable, while a lack of automation means that debtors can easily forget all about their payment, or overlook the consequences altogether. Within this handy guide, let the ChatBuilder team take you through some of the primary ways we see online debt collection improving within the energy sector, tackling industry-specific issues one step at a time.
Times are tough in 2023, and for those entering into debt with an energy company due to unpaid bills, there are sure to be an array of anxieties and stresses linked to this unfortunate situation. Individuals and businesses failing to pay their bills places increased pressure on the sector, and while some worldwide names are making record profits, we’ve seen other energy retailers going bust as a result of such issues. Much of the stress relating to unpaid bills stems from a lack of transparency and no clear process for customers to follow – though ChatBuilder plans to remedy this, with a clear, easy-to-follow payment process, packaged within a neat and accessible interface.
As you’ll likely be aware if you’re a stakeholder in an energy supply company, there are a checklist of common reasons why payments may be delayed, or cease altogether. Often due to financial constraints, customers may refuse to pay altogether, meaning that you won’t receive the outstanding debt. Below are a selection of the prominent problems encountered upon collections of funds:
Payment plans are a viable alternative to many customers, meaning that instead of one lump sum being taken from the corresponding account, instalments can instead be paid on a regular basis. Fully automated by ChatBuilder, this could hardly be easier, and once set up, the customer won’t even need to log in to verify their payment.
Of course, not knowing how to pay is an issue in itself, and not everyone is as tuned in with technology as Gen Z. Older or less internet savvy debtors may struggle to navigate through pages on the web, or may be cautious about entering their credit or debit card information when prompted. This is offset by ChatBuilder’s usable interface – available direct from mobile, or via a web browser if more convenient. With no login required, payment is quick and free of hassle for those paying off an outstanding total.
From the debtor point of view, there are complications which may have resulted in a missed payment, such as a move in or move out, in which the customers has failed to let their energy provider know they have moved, and been unable to pay their final bills as a consequence. This type of incident is avoidable once automatic payment has been established, with the correct amount being taken from a customer account on a regular basis, halting once an individual is no longer present at the address specified to their energy provider. Data validation ensures that each customer receives the accurate debt demand at all times.
Debt collection is a significant ongoing challenge within the industry for all involved, and we’ve established a number of features designed with you, the energy retailers, in mind. Annually, rolling totals (often in their millions) can force retailers to chase customers across multiple channels, often with mixed results and unpredictable outcomes. ChatBuilder simplify matters with one dedicated and centralised hub for your customers. Improving collections whilst mitigating third party costs, benefit from guaranteed message receipt and personalisation for customers and debtors, a simplified payment gateway without complex log ins and transactions direct from mobile devices. You can even automate payment plans, initiate discounts to individuals or instigate a direct call to the call centre when certain actions are made.
At ChatBuilder, we understand that ever-increasing energy prices, in the midst of a cost of living crisis are putting energy retailers and their customers in a tough situation. In a highly regulated industry, the pressure is on retailers themselves to find a solution to these recurring challenges which are driven by increased energy bills. Tenants constantly moving in and out, depleting account health, spiralling customer debt and increasing contact demands are being placed on call centres, and any tools to help out with these issues are an absolute asset. ChatBuilder offer solutions and practical fixes to tackle these challenges before they become insurmountable.
As you may be aware, utility suppliers require accurate metre readings to forecast supply needs and deliver accurate bills. It’s a difficult and expensive task – with many energy companies outsourcing to third party suppliers, to manually visit properties. We have automated the process and via a simple Chatbot, the end customer is guided through a metre read collection directly from their mobile device. Quick, simple and effective, contact our team today for additional details, we would be more than happy to help.
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