The Customer Expectation Gap
Through technological advances in metering, CIS, and seemingly all other facets of the utility industry, cooperative members expect continuous enhancements to their electric service experience. Members also expect the most convenient payment options available, no matter the method they choose to use. Convenience, speed, and ease-of-use top the list of member requirements. Traditional methods of in-person payments are viewed as antiquated; producing a gap between customer expectations and the experience. Fortunately, advancements of in-person payment options are keeping lock-step with the rest of the experience.
Bridging the Gap
Technologies specific to utility companies bridge the gap and solve the problem of inconvenient over-the-counter payments. Bill pay kiosks are now a staple in the payment structure for many electric cooperatives. Tulsa-based U.S. Payments (USP) works with more than 200 electric cooperatives nationwide to provide the PaySite® kiosk as a payment option for members. These self-service machines improve the payment process and provide fast and easy options to pay bills in-person. With real-time interface capabilities, the kiosk provides immediate posting to customer accounts, complementing the widespread adoption of prepaid electricity programs implemented by cooperatives. Coops are able to expand their payment footprint with retail partnerships between USP and grocery/convenience stores relevant to the cooperative’s service territory.
Eliminating the Gap
U.S. Payments provides customer education support to aid in the transition from counter to kiosk. The backend interface is managed between U.S. Payments and the cooperatives’ CIS vendors. Many of these companies like SEDC, CSA, NISC, and ATS, already have an established real-time interface with USP lending to expedited implementation timelines. U.S. Payments reaches-out to retail partners and also installs kiosks within cooperative offices. Once the fees are established, the interface is complete, the locations are determined, and the customer education plan is in place, the cooperative is able to substantially enhance the convenience of in-person payments and reduce costs associated with the payment channel.
Implementing the Solution
Implementation of the PaySite kiosk is easy from start to finish. USP builds the interface, provides the kiosk, recruits retailers, coordinates marketing, manages maintenance, creates reporting, and settles funds. USP’s customer care center is available to assist with customer payments and our 24×7 technical support line is available for any kiosk issues that may arise. With 99.999% data center up-time and a 99% kiosk up-time, PaySite is not only reliable, but maximizes all facets of the in-person payment network for electric cooperatives and enables coops to bridge the gap between member expectations and positive perceptions.