Improving billing and forecasting efficiency

Billing processes can be complex, and are often error-prone and labor-intensive. This has an important impact on customer engagement and capital efficiency.

How to evolve to a customer-centric service leader

By leveraging predictive analytics, AI, and data science you can streamline your billing functions, automate error-prone processes, and accurately forecast revenues, all while transforming your relationship with customers and/or brokers.

These are enablers on your journey to evolve from a commodity seller to a customer-centric service leader.

In this article, we’ll focus on how AI-enabled technology can help you:

  • Influence your billing performance and revenue forecasting

  • Minimize your costs and maximize your added value for customers

AI, data and analytics

5 factors that influence your billing performance

  • Educate your customer/broker
    By providing your customers and brokers with real-time insights and advice on their consumption profile, potential energy savings, and how they can reduce their CO2 emissions you can empower them to control their own usage long before the bill arrives.

  • Send accurate and real-time bills
    By collecting and analyzing real-time data from smart meters, generation sites, and other sources across your network you can model every bill component accurately.

  • Select the right communication channel for billing and collection letters
    Based on historical data, customer behavior, and demographic data, you can build a strong customer profile. This will also help you to select the most beneficial communication channel for sending invoices and notifications. Using the correct communication channels will radically increase your chances of getting the bill paid on time, which will improve your cash flow position.

  • Forecast revenue and cash flow
    Gaining detailed insights into both revenue forecasting and the expected payment behavior will allow you to optimize your cash flow position. Providing brokers with specific commission forecasts will result in a positive long-term relationship.
  • Plan your customer service & support resources
    By pro-actively forecasting the amount of billing exceptions and customer enquiries following the creation of a bill, you can confidently allocate resources where they’re needed. That way you’re always prepared for the right number of queries on the right channels.

Bring your billing performance to the next level

On the one hand, with the proliferation of smart meters, electricity usage is increasingly recorded in real-time. On the other hand, the energy market has become increasingly complex with multiple generation sources.

Industrial and Commercial (I&C) customers are becoming Prosumers (think about solar & wind energy, and batteries), and they might sell some of their energy back to the grid (reverse billing). Their bill needs to reflect that. I&C customers also require billing across multiple sites and potentially multiple currencies. The result is more data points than ever thus bringing new opportunities to improve your billing performance.

With AI-powered technology, you can enhance your billing performance. By using historical data points and customer behavior, you can accurately forecast the outcome of a bill before it has even been created.

More specifically you can identify:

Invoice outcome

  • How many customers will pay their invoice on time?
  • How much outstanding balance is to be expected?
  • How many customers will dispute the invoice?
  • How many customers will contact your customer service team with additional questions?

Revenue outcome

  • Are your customers consuming as you were expecting / how you estimated?
  • What is the performance of the portfolio management: procurement versus sales?
  • What is your cost structure per customer to secure the expected margin?
  • What will be your cost-to-serve of every individual customer and/or customer group?

During every billing cycle, more and more data points will be available that will be used to create a strong customer profile. This will feed the AI-powered technology to ensure even more accurate results in the future. This will also minimize your cost-to-serve by anticipating your customers’ needs.

Final thought

Utilities have been using AI and machine learning with the clear objective to do things “smarter, better and faster”. Done well, this is a foundational business tool to improve your billing performance, have a positive impact on your customers’ satisfaction and improve your bottom-line financial results.

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