Arguably one of the hardest industries to collect on unpaid invoices is the utilities industry. Everyone complains about paying their utilities bill, and often times customers will go delinquent. The utilities is usually the last on the list for customers to pay as well, behind the products and materials they need. Unlike other services, you don’t usually have the privilege of checking customer credit reports before providing water, electricity, gas or other utilities. You have to take a different approach than most businesses by focusing on encouraging the customer to pay. One easy way to do this is by using automated accounts receivable software.

Here are three ways you can encourage customers to pay their utilities bills faster by using utilities accounts receivable software.

Online Bill Pay
The quickest way to ensure you get paid is by allowing customers to pay online. Imagine how long it takes to send a bill in the mail, a customer to receive it, write a check, send it back and for it to go through at the bank. Using an online bill pay option is as quick entering in the credit card information and hitting send. Customers simply receive an email requesting payment for their bill and they have the option to click a link taking them to a secure payment portal. From there, they have the ability to make a payment using credit card or ACH.

Automated emails
Customers need everything to be easily accessible in order to pay on time. Everyone checks their emails, usually multiple times a day. By using accounts receivable software, you are able to deliver bills straight to their inbox so they can easily click a link and pay online. How would you have the ability to send that many emails a day, though? Using automated email, any emails that need to be sent can be set up to send on their own. For example, any customer past 30 days can automatically be sent a pre-created past due collection letter.

Invoice Dispute Management
If a customer has an issue with the cost of a bill, they will usually dispute it. Keeping track of every disputed utilities bill is difficult, unless management is automated. If most invoice disputes have to be escalated to a manager to be resolved, escalations can be automated and a manager will be alerted to every new dispute. A communication history, including email attachments and call notes can all be found in the customer details so everyone is abreast of the current dispute situation.

Collecting in the utilities industry can be one of the hardest industries to collect in, especially since you rarely can vet customers before offering the service. However, by making it easier for customers to pay and encouraging them to pay early, you’re more likely to see the cash flow increase. Using accounts receivable software for utilties makes this process easier and faster by having all these options in one place.