Footing the utility bill -
Who covers the unpaid utility invoices due to Covid-19 Moratoriums on Customer Disconnection?
Well, worse-case scenario, many of the other customers who may have been paying on time through rate increases.
Are we emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic? Is the need for moratoriums on utility shutoffs behind us, or are we facing another cold winter and household budget shortfalls? Let's hope it's the former!
With the onset of the second full Covid winter just ahead, there are still millions of families affected by utility bills in arrears. Programs exist that can provide customers some support in staying current on their utility costs.
Utility providers are confronted with revenue losses, and need to recover as much as the lost income as possible. The National Governor's Association "Utility Affordability Memo" summarizes the various state-level responses to address customer utility accounts in arrears, and the resulting impact on the utility providers. Standard practices for providers include offering payment plans for affected customers, and reporting lost revenue to utility regulators. Recording the losses are the first step that providers are taking to make the case for a need to possibly raise rates on the general public to recoup their losses. Since the total impact to utilities is unknown, stipulated cost recovery mechanisms may be premature, so tracking lost revenue is standard practice for the time being.
However, there is a case to be made that losses can be mitigated presently by using a proven program offered by a data analytics provider and possibly lessen the need for general rate hikes.
Data science company BlastPoint outlines several case studies on its website that demonstrate success in determining which customers are most inclined to be able to bring their accounts current.
Take a look at several of these case studies, including the campaign to assist a large mid-atlantic natural gas provider recover half of its accounts in arrears with appropriate messaging and communication channels. The BlastPoint team describes in a blog post that "using BlastPoint’s data-driven billing and collections solutions, our partners knew, a few months into the pandemic, which households were most at risk of shut-offs. With our segmented customer personas, they knew how to proactively engage those customers. With targeted messaging that resonated, they contacted customers about signing up for low-income assistance programs, payment arrangements or paying what was due. "
BlastPoint's CEO Alison Alvarez discussed some of the insights the company gained from working with providers at the height of the moratorium in late 2020. She noted that most customers with accounts in arrears who were able to make some monthly payment arrangement were able to avoid a complete default on the account.
By providing insights about customers' ability to pay and preferred communication channels, BlastPoint directly improves utility providers' bottom lines. This benefits the general customer's bottom line as well since any reduction in utility providers' recorded losses weakens the case for raising future rates.
Visit BlastPoint at their website to learn more about employing effective customer segmentation and engagement to meet your company's bottom line goals.