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BILLING AND COLLECTIONS

BILLING AND COLLECTIONS

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BILLING AND COLLECTIONS

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  1. BILLING AND COLLECTIONS AWWA Leadership Forum Session Two November 10, 2009

  2. Billing • Employees • Software: • Billing • Meter reading • Customer service • Service/work orders • Payment processing • Report generation • Notes on accounts • Hardware: • Desktop/laptop computers, servers • Meter reading equipment • GIS equipment

  3. Meter Reading • Meter readers • Gather readings from downloaded customer inf. • Read, touch-read, radio read, fixed network • Read by route within cycle • Read daily, weekly, monthly • Seasonal readings

  4. Billing Department • Download customer information into reading equipment • Upload readings into billing software • Review readings • Generate report for re-reads, etc. (set threshold for high reads)

  5. Billing Department • Electronically compile reading data into bills • Information on bills include usage, payments, reading dates, due dates, messages, etc. • Send bill file electronically or print bills • Be flexible on contents and format of bill

  6. Printing Bills • In-house • Staff reviews, approves, and sends • Control in timing of billing and mailing • Labor intensive • Specialized equipment • Investment in equipment • Supplies, i.e. paper, toner, • Higher postage costs

  7. Printing Bills, cont’d. • Outsource: • Send, review, approve electronically • Process statements quickly • Save money • Labor, mailing costs, inventory mgt. expenses, decrease equipment acquisition, and maintenance costs • Update addresses each billing period • Increase productivity-reallocate staff time to higher valuable uses • Offer other services such as online and over-the-phone payments

  8. Elements of Billing Statements • Easy to read • Professional appearance • Include pertinent information • Electronic statements; view online and/or send via email • Supply return envelope

  9. Billing/Due Dates • Billing frequency • Utility sends out weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. • Customer receives monthly or every other month • Bills need to be sent out timely • Lag time from reading to bills to customers • Due date 30 days from date of billing • Penalty or interest charge for late payments

  10. Paying the Bill • Payment of bill: • Offer multiple payment options • Auto-pay, online, financial institution, over the phone, in person, mail, night drop, external vendors, equal pay • Pay by credit/debit card, check, cash • Possible incentive for auto-pay/online participation • Credit/debit payments are processed through 3rd party

  11. Receivables • Accounts Receivable: • Receivables processed daily • Balance daily • Bank deposits daily • Check processing equipment • Provide G/L codes for various types of payments

  12. Collections • CSR’s are primary contact with customers and act as collection agents • Empower CSR’s to provide great service and work with customers on payments • Most customer’s pay on-time • Special Circumstances: • Special arrangements • Payment assistance programs • Adjustments

  13. Collection of Delinquencies • Have a tracking system for missed payments • Have a collection policy • Set monetary/date threshold trigger • Send out past due letters • Make arrangements • Send out “final notices” • Make arrangements • Reduce disconnects • Disconnect (daily, weekly, monthly)

  14. Collection of Delinquencies • Reconnection fees • Same day reconnects • After-hours reconnects • Illegal reconnects-fines • Lien properties • Outsource

  15. Collections • Staff has to understand billing process • Customers should understand billing process • Outreach programs: • Local Newspapers • Newsletter • Website • CSR’s • Billing messages • New sign up inf. • Public meetings, etc.

  16. In Summary • Good sound billing program • + Consistent collection policy • + Happy informed CSR’s • + Happy informed customers • = A Happy You!