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When we don’t pay our bills, then what?

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Part II

In my previous post, I answered this question from the point of view of a municipal consumer. There we explored the expectations of a consumer from the service provider in case of Debt management processes and how Ramco’s solution can help municipalities meet those requirements.

Now I want to ask the same question from a municipality’s or a service provider’s view. What should be done when a customer doesn’t pay the bills? This time the answer isn’t easy. Now not only we need to meet customers’ expectations but we need to adhere to municipal policies. Let’s look at some challenges faced by various municipalities

  • Immediately Identifying all the customers defaulting after bill due date. In most cases these numbers will be huge.
  • Intimating or warning customers that their bill payment is pending after the bill due date.
  • In case of nonpayment even after warning, timely initiation and tracking of service restriction requests.
  • Identifying payments and initiating reconnections request immediately.
  • Provisions to liaise with external collection agencies and legal entities.
  • In case customers approach and ask for help what can be done
  • In case the transactions gets into dispute how to handle the situation.

These are broadly the issues which will bother a service provider in case of a bill default instance. Now let’s look at the solutions provided by Ramco to tackle these.

  • Immediately Identifying all the customers defaulting after bill due date.
    • First problem is to identify every customer who defaults. This problem is complicated further when a single customer renders different services each belonging to different department. For example single customer can render water, electricity and property tax service from a municipality. Each department has different definition of defaulting. For example electricity services bills once in 2 months, water services bills every month and property tax once a year. Also each department has their own set of actions if a customer defaults. So how to identify and publish actions for such a complex customer?
    • Solution for this is a highly customizable batch process which identifies defaulting customers based on the services they have rendered and publishing actions based on individual department requirements. For example a customer’s rendering water as well as electricity services defaults in paying only electricity charges. So now the system will identify and publish actions applicable for only electricity department. Also the whole process is automatic requiring no human intervention and handles huge volume. The whole process can be monitored through a single window interface.
    • Intimating or warning customers that their bill payment is pending after the bill due date.
      • If the service provider has a policy to intimate the customer of pending payment before taking any actions, this particular solutions provides a multiple medium correspondence system. First is a courtesy call platform where each such defaulting customer can be put is a common pool to perform calls and monitor the results whether successful or not. Secondly multiple correspondence modes like physical letter, email , sms support to contact customer. Any correspondence can be generated automatically to be sent to the customer. The system is designed to handle huge volumes of correspondence.
      • In case of nonpayment even after warning, timely initiation and tracking of service restriction requests.
        • In case the customers keep ignoring every warning, the service provider would like to restrict or disconnect the service. This situation is again complicated when customers has multiple services and across multiple properties. This problem is solved by an efficient priority and value based disconnection system. System can automatically generate disconnection request based on the priority set by the individual department. For example if a customer has water as well as electricity services we can give higher priority to electricity service restriction that too on the highest valued property. This multi leveled priority system ensures in most efficient and least revenue loss for the service provider. This system is also integrated with a tampering prevention process in case customers try to tamper with meters after service restriction.
        • Identifying payments and initiating reconnections request immediately.
          • Equally important is to identify incoming payments and initiating reconnection of services. A tailored batch process identifies payment amount associated with a customers and decides upon reconnection as per the set policy. For example in case of partial payment course of action will be different than full payment.
          • Provisions to liaise with external collection agencies and legal entities.
            • In many case service providers or municipalities liaise with external debt collection agencies to recover debts. It is important to monitor their activity and integrate with your own process. This is what exactly handled by the current solution where external collection agencies and legal entities can be allocated cases, monitored on their progress as well as commission to be paid calculated.
            • In case customer asks for help provisions like EMI type payment scheme also designed. In case of worst case scenario where money is not recovered system provided multi leveled debt write off options which can be customized as per policy. In case transactions move into disputes system can smartly suspend future processes till disputed are resolved.
            • A service provider will also like keep track of the payment behavior of a customer such that insightful decisions can be taken in future like to provide or deny new connections, or charge extra deposit or black list a multiple defaulting customer. Ramco’s solution provides a comprehensive historical behavior tracking system. It also employs a smart customer profiling process to grade customers based on their payment behavior. Provisions are there to blacklist a customer and integrate this with external credit rating bureaus like CIBIL.

What was interesting to see was all the above functionalities were synchronized across departments in such a manner that it required minimal manual intervention and multiple level of communication was set up between customer and service provider to achieve high level of customer satisfaction.

An intuitive solution like this helps a service provider to significantly reduce their

  • exposed risk and credit risk
  • improve debt recovery rate

 

 

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