Data Enrichment & Validation

Address Verification Process for Utilities: A Step by Step Guide

December 15, 2020
Autor
Inkit Team

Utility services take enormous responsibility for the timely delivery of bills. By the letter of law, they must provide billing data at the end of each month or billing cycle. This usually means 20 to 30 days. Any delay will result in penalties for the company and disrupt its internal processes. On the other end, customers will also suffer from late payment consequences and may be charged additional fees.

The accuracy of bill delivery depends on data quality. When you don’t have reliable contact information, you won’t be able to reach customers. Apart from being valid, the address data should also be standardized and homogenous. Only then can you upload it to your system and automate the utility bill payment online and offline.

That’s why the address verification process is a must-have for any utility company. For more tips on how and why to verify address data, read today’s blog guide about:

  • Address verification process for utility bill payment online and offline: benefits, compliance, and cost-effectiveness
  • Address verification process: setup, tips & tricks
  • Why verify address data with Inkit

Address Verification Process for Utility Bill Payment Online and Offline: Benefits, Compliance, and Cost-Effectiveness

Although the address verification process is just one of multiple procedures necessary for utility bill payment online and offline, its impact is vast. It simplifies customer communications, helps you stay regulatory compliant, and cuts expenses.

utilities

Benefits of the address verification process

  • Quality customer reach. First of all, you will be more likely to reach the target. That’s the most obvious and the main benefit of validating addresses. When people share their contact information, they are prone to making mistakes and typos. They can also move to another place, and you will be left with outdated contact details. As a result, some customers may not receive and pay your utility bills.

By implementing the address verification process, you can automatically check address data and make address corrections. Thus, customers will always get the necessary utility bills in time, which significantly improves the quality of utility services and minimizes the risk of disputes.

  • Data security. In 2019, the Federal and Trade Commission recorded 31,000 cases of utility-related identity theft. Thieves stole the personal information of individuals to open utility accounts and run up charges in the name of another person. When utility services implement more thorough checks to verify address data, this helps detect such fraudulent activity.

Besides, utility communications also include lots of personal information that can be compromised. When bills end up in the wrong hands, third-party can access confidential information, including phone numbers and billing details. Since the data verification process helps to enhance the accuracy of delivery, it also improves communications security. The credit cards and debit cards of consumers are well-protected.

  • Simplified automation. Besides mail delivery, address data is also used for risk management and AVS checks in utility bill payment online. Therefore, when you verify addresses, you provide multiple teams with a single reliable source of information. Verification tools standardize addresses and prepare them for further use with automation systems. This allows you to quickly adopt new software solutions that leverage address data and connect them for advanced automation.

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Compliance & regulations vs. the address verification process

Utility services are a strictly regulated field. As a utility provider, you will need to meet specific deadlines for each type of bill, use proper address formats, and communicate channels.

Utility companies are by default required to send bills by mail. They can switch to utility bill payment online reporting only upon the customer’s request. This makes offline delivery and the ability to verify address data life-critical for regulatory compliance. If you don’t check an address before mailing, you may fail to deliver bills at all.

Cost-effectiveness of the address verification process

The implementation of the address verification process requires investment. You will need to purchase a software subscription, integrate the tool with your internal systems, and teach personnel how to manage it. These are the usual initial expenses for any digital transformation initiative.

In the long run, the software will start paying off. Address verification returns the investment thanks to:

  • Reduced number of returned mail and related financial losses
  • Built-in regulatory compliance that protects you from penalties
  • Optimized work of teams that don’t have to process and verify addresses manually
  • Reduced late payments due to more accurate bill delivery
  • Fewer disputes from customers dissatisfied with the quality of communication

Address Verification Process: Setup, Tips & Tricks

The setup of the address verification process varies among tools. This article suggests a typical, standard procedure, but your actual circumstances might require some additional steps. If you’d like an in-depth consultation, feel free to contact Inkit’s team for a personalized set of recommendations.

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In a typical situation, here’re the main steps you will need to complete:

Step 1 to verify address data. Analyze the situation

Audit your current global addresses databases to understand what validation problems you have. Figure out through what channels you receive contact information from customers. This will help you pick the best tools to process addresses. For example, if customers enter address details in website forms, you can benefit from address autocomplete. If they share addresses through emails, you will need to extract data from there. Address verification tools are usually used in conjunction with other software for reach enablement and customer relationship management.

Step 2 to verify address data. Choose an approach

You can either connect data verification functionality to your existing tech stack or manually upload records for batch processing. For manual verification, you will need to add CSV files with local or international addresses to the tool and run verification.

To achieve automated verification, select the tool that can verify data in real-time. Software solutions like Inkit provide an address verification API that allows you to build complex integrations and achieve a high level of automation. You can also use Inkit as a separate reach enablement platform. It integrates with multiple CRM systems to complement their functionality with global address verification, address autocomplete, and other capabilities. The integration is user-friendly and doesn’t require much time or effort to complete.

Step 3 to verify address data. Test the process

Once you finish the integration, ensure all the channels that collect address data are connected and work well. Run several tests to see how the software verifies addresses and matches them with the database of the United States Postal Services. After you make sure there are no bottlenecks, the address verification process is successfully automated.

address verification

Why Verify Address Data With Inkit

Inkit is a multifunctional platform that provides address verification, among many other features. In addition to automated address checks, you can also leverage address autocompletion, PDF bill rendering, and multi-channel interactions with customers. Each stage of the customer billing and communication process is covered.

Inkit enables utility companies to provide utility bill payment online and offline with equal ease. It has the native functionality for automated mail printing and delivery and smoothly connects with third-party tools to use other channels. Utilities can meet the needs of those who prefer online payments and the proponents of classic print bills. Such flexibility is a must-have in today’s market.

Would you like to try Inkit for your project? Contact our team to get the demo or start a subscription.

Ready to captivate your customers?

Let us show you how automating direct mail can increase your offline conversions.
Schedule a Demo