Did you know 60% of people find their energy and utility bills confusing?
They find it hard to understand the gas and electricity unit pricing and costs. And apparently, the worst offender was energy suppliers, beating water companies, mortgage lenders, councils, phone providers, and more.
Utility companies put a lot of information on their billing statements. While their intention may be to let consumers know what they are paying for exactly, utility companies can cause confusion, if not frustration.
Let’s take electricity bills for example. It is divided into two sections: the supply and the delivery charge.
While the supply charge is computed in a pretty straightforward manner, the delivery charge is a different matter altogether.
It may contain any or all of the following: customer charge, distribution charge, transition charge, transmission charge, revenue decoupling charge, distributed solar charge, renewable energy charge, and energy efficiency.
There’s nothing customers want more than gaining valuable or actionable insights into their energy usage and costs at a glance. But unfortunately, paper bills and reporting don’t have that luxury.
And one simple solution is for utility companies to go paperless.
Below, we will cover what going paperless means for utility companies and practical solutions to implement in your organization.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What Going Paperless Looks Like For Utility Companies
- Benefits Of Going Paperless As An Utility Company
- Utility Bills To Automate When Going Paperless And How
What Going Paperless Looks Like For Utility Companies
Why should offices, including utility companies, shift to paperless operations and communications?
For one, an average worker in an office uses up to 10,000 sheets of paper in a year.
And according to One Paper Lane, each year, U.S. companies spend over $120B on printed forms, most of which become outdated within 3 months.
That is a lot of resources that companies pay for but can eliminate from their operational costs.
Going paperless means that utility companies save about 0.50 USD per bill per month, according to Striata.
With utility companies providing services to thousands and even millions of customers, that expense adds up over time.
Using much less paper in their internal and external operations and communications also reduces wasteful consumption of resources that go into paper production.
In concrete terms, that means::
- Preventing 26,000 trees from being cut down annually
- Saving on the use of an equivalent of 574,300 water-filled swimming pools in a year
- Reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 million pounds every year
Customers of utility companies benefit from paperless billing statements.
It allows them access to their bills via email, mobile, or through a web portal with just a few clicks of a button.
Online or electronic utility bills also offer customers more payment options such as through credit cards, online payment platforms, and direct deposits.
Moreover, utility web portals enable customers to access more information about their billing statements, such as utilization and bills over time.
The industry and its customer base will be better off if it achieves utility company a paperless status. There are compelling reasons for utility companies to go paperless, aside from saving on costs, green operations, and customer satisfaction.
So, let’s take a look at some of the biggest benefits.
Benefits Of Going Paperless As An Utility Company
Ease of payments
Customers who receive their bills electronically have the convenience of many different payment options available in electronic or online bills.
A significant number of customers now pay most of their bills and purchases online through their mobile devices.
It’s only a matter of time before they start doing so with their utility bills as well.
Paper billing entails printing out the document, putting them in envelopes, and mailing the billing statements to customers.
Paperless billing reduces the amount of work that goes into billing customers for their utility consumption.
Other areas of operations and communications of utility companies also benefit from going paperless as it reduces clutter and allows for more efficient sharing and viewing of files or records.
Like it or not, printed documents, even if filed neatly, add to the chaos in a workplace.
Meanwhile, while going paperless, you manage to streamline your business operations.
Utility companies that shift to paperless operations and communications integrate the use of digital tools and systems in their workflow to secure their sensitive documents.
They also often have repetitive processes such as these:
- Generating bills.
- Managing customer information files and documents.
- Communicating with customers on the same topic or questions.
Paper bills sent via mail can get lost in the mail. They get stolen or get delivered to the wrong address. You would not want to miss out on payment just because you did not get your utility bill in the mail.
Meanwhile, according to Formstack, it costs around:
- $20 to file a paper document.
- $120 to find misfiled or lost documents.
- $220 to recreate a lost document.
These processes benefit from automation to create, generate, share, and store documents.
Accessing billing statements via a utility company’s web portal integrates security features when customers log in, ensuring the safety and confidentiality of the information.
Paperless billing statements sent electronically to customers’ email addresses also benefit from security measures such as non-disclosure of full account information in case the email is compromised.
On that note, let’s now take a look at some of the most common utility bills and documents that get automated when going paperless.
Utility Bills To Automate When Going Paperless And How
Utility companies perform repeated processes and routine tasks necessary in their customer communications operations and management function.
These include generating, sharing, and storing bills, and other parts of their document management lifecycle system.
Taking utility bills as an example, utility companies generate and send out the following to customers regularly and repeatedly:
- Monthly billing statements.
- Catch up on bills due to errors in a past bill or due to delivery failure.
- Late fee notification for a bill paid beyond its due date.
- Termination of service notice.
- Updates or modifications in bill payment conditions.
All these documents usually also follow the regular document lifecycle steps. Such as creation, generation, sharing, storing, and more.
Steps that can be fully automated with the right document management solution.
Automating the creation, generation, sharing, storage, and retrieval of regular utility bills and promptly sending them out to customers is a good way of communicating critical information.
Some other common document templates for automation include:
- Invoices and bills.
- Cash receipts.
- Financial statements.
- Confirmation letters.
- Request forms.
- Terms and conditions.
- And more.
Automatically Generating Utility Bills With The RIght Document Generating Software
Hope this guide to going paperless was helpful!
There are many good reasons for utility companies to automate their document generation and go paperless. To recap, the top reasons for going paperless include:
- Saving considerable expense cost on paper use.
- Being good for the environment and promoting sustainable operations.
- Optimizing and fully automating certain processes and work tasks.
- Fewer chances of missing paper bills due to delivery delays or mailbox theft
- And more.
Transitioning to paperless operations and communications is a win-win proposition for utility companies and their customer base. It will save on vital financial and human resources and get better customer satisfaction in return.
As covered above, going paperless begins with the right document generation software.
So, if you’re wondering where to go from here, be sure to read our guide on 7+ questions to evaluate document generation software!