A few issues back I wrote about a utility’s “corporate culture” and how I believe it is possible to have sound business policies and still be customer friendly. Let’s look at another way you can be customer friendly…

Do you get complaints from senior citizens and customers on fixed incomes that your due date causes them to pay late and incur penalties each month? Have you considered offering them a more convenient due date? This issue examines how to do that.

It’s easy with cycle billing

If you bill more than one time per month, commonly called cycle billing, all this may require is allowing your customers to choose to be billed in another cycle. Doing so allows them to select a cycle with a due date that falls after they receive their monthly check. You would continue to read these accounts with their existing meter reading route, waiting to bill them a week or two later than usual.

How do we do this if we only bill once a month?

If you only bill once per month, offering an alternative due date would require you to create another billing cycle. You would then move all of your customers who request a later due date to this cycle, giving them additional time until their bill is due.

Let’s look at a possible scenario with a billing date is the 15th of the month and the due date is the last day of the month. If you have customers who receive their monthly check on the 5th of the month, they will be late paying their bill each month. To make it more convenient for these customers, all you would need to do is move them to a different billing cycle with a due date of the 10th of the month. This will enable these customers to pay their bill after receiving their monthly check without being late each month.

Meter reading routes separate from billing cycles

Both scenarios require your billing software to distinguish meter reading routes independent of billing cycles. If you’re not sure how to do this, give your software vendor a call. If your billing software can’t do this, it might be time to consider new software.