THE PAYMENT OF UTILITY BILLS BECOMES A MARKETING TOOL

Utilities

The utilities sector has been undergoing a massive transformation in recent years in response to several factors, including market liberalization.

In an increasingly competitive and crowded arena, digital is a crucial element for business growth as it allows providers to customise their services and offer more flexibility, a necessary paradigm in light of a radically transformed audience: customers are hyper-connected, well informed, increasingly free to choose, to actively compare available options and change suppliers in search of greater convenience and more savings.

Today, the signing of a contract does not ensure that the new customer will stay with the same service provider for a long time: for suppliers of gas, electricity and water as well as for telecommunications, transport and waste management companies, the loyalty journey just begins.

Customer Churn has indeed become one of the biggest problems to tackle, considering that today changing supplier is only a matter of few clicks. And why do consumers often switch suppliers? Surprisingly, the main reason is not always linked to the pricing plan: customer experience is now the key differentiator.

At Papernest, the French startup that has launched services like www.prontobolletta.it in Italy, they know it well: the web portal was created with the aim of eliminating any friction in the activation of a new electricity and gas supply contract, by focusing on the full digitalisation and dematerialisation of the process and speeding up all the steps involved for both consumers and suppliers.

The concern of the consumer/user, in fact, is not limited to saving money on the utility bills: streamlined and more rapid processes are more and more relevant.

In this decade’s Connected Economy, customers clearly expect frictionless interactions with utility suppliers as well as immediate feedback with regards to any aspects of their service.

Let’s consider bills and their payment: here too, consumers’ desire for instant gratification has turned into a need over the last several years.

The number of consumers who check immediately to see if their payment has been processed has risen from 35,6% in the second half of 2020 to 46% in the second half of 2021. Furthermore, 28.2% of consumers are frustrated by the length of time it takes to process their bill payments, an increase from 23.7% in 2020. [1]

A payment method whose use keeps growing considerably also for the payment of utility bills, is the account-to-account system offered by MyBank solution: with its immediate confirmation of the transaction which is notified in real time to both the customer and the supplier, it efficiently meets this need.

An alternative to cards, standard wire transfers and further methods, MyBank allows users to be redirected to their own bank’s online banking service directly from the payments page of their utility supplier (or, as far as Italy is concerned, from the pagoPA platform), to access it with their own usual credentials and immediately visualise a pre-filled payment form to be approved in a simple click and, last but not least, to receive the transaction confirmation within a few seconds.

To ensure a secure and seamless payment experience and to offer an alternative method that doesn’t require users to create any new accounts, download any apps or manually enter any data, many players of the utilities sector have already integrated MyBank solution in their systems: Enel, ENI, Acea, Gruppo Hera, E.ON, Agsm, Edison Energia, Acquedotto del Fiora, Publiacqua, AMG and Axpo Italia are some of the suppliers offering their customers this method for the payment of the bills, via a dedicated button in the Reserved Area of their website (or, in Italy only, via redirection to the pagoPA portal).

On the occasion of a recent press release about their adoption of MyBank solution, Silvio Caligiuri, Head of Treasury&Billing at Axpo Italia, No.1 energy company in Italy based on customer satisfaction [2], said: “Innovation and the application of new technologies are key elements for each of the services we make available to all our counterparties. As we aim to be a reliable, sustainable and innovative partner, we have the duty to constantly offer our customers up-to-date solutions and a wide range of options. The integration of MyBank in the payment systems of Axpo Italia goes exactly in this direction”.

Reliability and flexibility thus become pillars of customer satisfaction. Similarly, utility bills payment provides an opportunity to create value: an important touchpoint to gain customer trust through a secure, immediate and frictionless experience, such as the one provided by MyBank.

In conclusion, in the utilities sector the payment of bills increasingly becomes a marketing tool for improving user experience and, as a result of this, to boost customer retention.

 

 

[1] ACI Speedpay Pulse Trend Report 2021

[2] 90% of Axpo customers are satisfied with their energy supplier and the company ranks first among the players in the sector for the attention dedicated to the customer (source: Ricerca Nielsen 03/2021)

10 May 2022

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