Text Notices Reduce Utility Cutoffs by Half

July 22, 2019 by Meredith Trimble

Text Notices Reduce Utility Cutoffs by Half

Notifying utility customers at risk of service cut-off is neither a pleasant nor easy task. For the city of Sevierville, TN, customer contact was made even more cumbersome by a growing community and increased service area. The city operated with four different billing cycles, necessitating delinquent account notices – from 50 to 100 – every week.

Andrea Madison, Sevierville’s accounting technician and utility billing clerk, explained the manual process. “The only method we had for notifying customers was a notice on their billing statement they receive. Other than that, if our cashiers or customer service reps had time, we would attempt to contact them ourselves.” When they contacted customers by phone, “it would take up quite a bit of time and tie up our phone lines,” Madison noted.

Andrea Madison, City of Sevierville, TN, Accounting Technician and Utility Billing Clerk accepts a 2019 Tyler Excellence Award for innovation

She and her team sought an easier, more consistent method of customer communication. “Technology is a huge part of our growth,” Madison said. “The more we can communicate through technology in different ways, the better it is for our customers.”

The city leveraged an automated notification solution that worked with its existing financial software. This not only increased internal efficiency, it decreased utility cutoff numbers by half – a true “win-win” for the city and its residents.

Today, instant phone, email, and text notifications for delinquent customers not only ensure adequate warning, they allow customers to immediately make a payment through IVR or by clicking a link to the online payment system. For Madison, it’s a matter of simply customizing the message, selecting the accounts, and scheduling the notification.

Customers appreciate this proactive contact along with the opportunity to make easy payment before cutoff. Meter technicians and customer service staff are enjoying reduced time in the field on disconnects and on the phones. This gives the city increased productivity, and its residents better service.

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