Why argue with your customers?

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Recent Utility Information Pipelines have been examining trends over the four years of the Utility Fee Survey – 201220152017, and 2019, and this one continues that theme.

With this installment, let’s take a look at what I consider a very important best practice regarding charging the cut-off fee (or reconnect fee or whatever you call your fee) on cut-off day.

If you’ve been a Utility Information Pipeline reader for any length of time, you know I’m a firm believer in the best practice of charging the cut-off fee for non-payment to all accounts as soon as the cut-off list leaves the office. By this, I mean not playing the age-old game on cut-off day of contacting the field service technicians each time a customer comes in to pay to see if they’ve been cut off yet or not.

The inevitable argument

As soon as you institute this policy change and start charging the cut-off fee to everyone at the same time, rather than waiting until the account has been cut off, invariably you’re going to have a customer protest. This customer is going to make the argument of “you can’t charge me a cut-off fee if you haven’t cut my service off”, or something similar.

So why not avoid this argument entirely! How do you go about doing this, you ask?

What other utilities have done

Other utilities, faced with the same dilemma from their own argumentative customers, have adopted what I’m referring to as “non-traditional terminology” to describe their cut-off fee. By non-traditional terminology, I mean basically anything not containing any of the following terms:

  • Cut-Off
  • Cut-On
  • Disconnect
  • Lock
  • Off
  • On
  • Reactivate
  • Reconnect
  • Restore
  • Shut-Off
  • Suspension
  • Termination
  • Turn-Off
  • Turn-On

Analyzing the trend toward non-traditional terminology

This graph below shows the trend over the four Utility Fee Surveys away from traditional terminology to non-traditional terminology. Traditional terminology is still king, but non-traditional terms are slowly gaining in popularity.

What are some popular non-traditional terms?

For utilities who have adopted a non-traditional term for their cut-off fee, the graph below displays the 10 most popular terms reported for the four Utility Fee Surveys:

Is it time to revise your cut-off fee?

If you’re considering revising any part of your delinquent process – from late fees to the cut-off process, please give me a call at 919-673-4050, or email me at gsanders@edmundsgovtech.com to see how a business review could help you find out.

 

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