Five ways to simplify retail propane payments

September 20, 2018 By    

Interruptions to a customer’s propane supply can cause major disruptions to their home or business. To help keep customers up and running, propane retailers are tasked with delivering timely bills and offering easy ways to make payments.

Propane retailers often deal with high volumes of payments sent through the mail, delivered in person, or called in over the phone. Solutions have evolved to help handle these payments, from call centers to remittance processing systems and bank lockboxes. However, there are operational efficiencies that can be gained from moving these manual payments toward electronic channels.

The right electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) solution can help encourage online payments, provide critical bill reminders and adapt quickly to the changing needs of retail propane customers. Here are five ways retail propane operators can simplify billing and streamline payments using EBPP technology.

1. Let customers pay bills on their mobile devices.

Technology has streamlined customers’ interactions with retailers and service providers, and they are increasingly looking for this convenience when it comes to paying their propane bills. An EBPP solution can offer a consistent, easy-to-navigate bill payment experience across all digital channels, from desktops to mobile devices. It can also give customers the ability to make one-time guest payments or create user accounts that provide access to more robust features.

2. Remind customers when their payments are due by sending text messages and/or email alerts.

Paper bills are still undeniably popular. It’s estimated that in 2018, 66 percent of household bills will be mailed to their recipients. But customers are increasingly looking for electronic reminders that can either be used in conjunction with, or as a replacement for, their paper bills. E-bills, email reminders and text messages can send important billing and payment information to the palms of customers’ hands, encouraging them to make their payments as soon as they know their balances are due.

3. Accept more payment methods than just cash and personal checks.

Simplifying payments means giving customers the option to pay their propane bills with the payment methods of their choice. While some might prefer dropping a check in the mail, others might want to set up ACH transactions using their bank account information or pay with a debit card. Some might even want the convenience and perks of using a credit card. An EBPP solution can support multiple payment methods that make sense for both propane retailers and their customers.

4. Allow customers to coordinate payments with their paycheck cycles.

Continuity of service is critical for customers. Some might be looking for the flexibility of aligning propane payments with their paycheck cycles, so they don’t run the risk of having insufficient funds when they need a delivery. An EBPP solution can give customers the flexibility to pay portions of their bills on a recurring basis to help them better manage their finances and keep their accounts in good standing. Automatic payments can also be a convenient option, allowing them to set up their payment preferences with the peace of mind that their payments will be made automatically, without the risk of service interruption.

5. Stay on top of the latest payment trends.

As technology evolves, so do payments. Chatbots are popping up everywhere, giving customers the ability to converse naturally through channels like Facebook Messenger and Amazon Alexa to make account inquiries and pay bills. The right EBPP provider will be able to provide not only the payment channels that customers are looking for today, but also adapt easily to the payment trends of the future.

Retail propane customers are looking for a bill payment experience that’s on par with what they get from their favorite retailers and service providers. The right EBPP solution can provide billing options, payment methods and payment channels that deliver a modern customer experience.

Alison Arthur is product and content marketing manager at Alacriti, a company offering financial services and payment technology solutions to companies in the financial services, healthcare, insurance and utilities industries.

This article is tagged with and posted in Blue Flame Blog

About the Author:

Clara Richter is the managing editor at LP Gas magazine. Contact her at crichter@northcoastmedia.net or 216-363-7920.

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