Utilities companies will soon be able to deliver an enhanced customer experience via real time 24/7 payments using the New Payments Platform (NPP) according to a KPMG report, prepared in partnership with Commonwealth Bank (CBA).
The report, titled “NPP and utilities – Transforming the customer experience”, provides a snapshot of the NPP ecosystem, its transformative capabilities, and the payment features and benefits it will deliver to customers in the utilities sector.
According to the report, the adoption of real time 24/7 payments will enable utilities to deliver the benefits many consumers are seeking, and already experiencing in other sectors.
Since the NPP features include greater speed of payment, simple addressing, and 24/7 availability, Mike Baldwin, Executive Director NewTech Product Initiatives Commonwealth Bank said it offered significant scope for utilities to create better customer experiences in more tangible ways.
“By drawing on the NPP, utility organisations will be able to create new and improved customer experience, such as combining smart meter readings with customers' payment options through the NPP, including the options of micro-payments, easy pre-payments, or bill smoothing to match their pay cycles.
“Customers expect payments to be made in a quick, convenient, and simple manner. The NPP can assist in helping utility meet these expectations, and be seen as modern, relevant leaders by adapting to today’s customer.
“As a utilities customer, you could pay every day for example,” said Mr Baldwin. “Likewise, if you are generating electricity via a solar energy system, and feeding the power back into the grid, you could be paid for that generation in real time, every day.”
With a specific focus on the NPP and utilities, Cassandra Hogan, National Sector Leader KPMG Power & Utilities, said that for customers of utilities companies, the NPP will mean improved efficiency and cash flows - and reduced costs.
“One of the key benefits KPMG sees for customers in the Power & Utilities sector is the potential for managing “bill shock” – the instance where a large bill arrives which may be challenging to pay on time,” she said. “With the NPP, a utility can use smart meter insights – such as daily/monthly consumption – to provide recommendations on how the customer could optimise the tariff they are paying. They might pre-pay to avoid bill shock or establish billing cycles that suit their personal needs. The NPP can help in this process.”
Ms Hogan also noted that in the utilities sector a large proportion of customer calls into a contact centre are payments related. Any improvement in the payments system that can make it easier for customers will deliver a better experience for all.
“In considering what the NPP can deliver for utilities, we are looking at how the payments process can be made flexible and smooth, how it can help customers better manage their cash flows and how the customer experience more broadly can be enhanced.”
This translates to an expectation of seamless payment options, no ‘bill shock’, and no unnecessary overdue notices or misdirected funds. “We need to ask what can be done to support utilities and their customers to interact better, to assist in making the payments process flexible and smooth to better manage cash flow and to enhance the customer experience,” Ms Hogan said.
Ms Hogan said the NPP has the potential to smooth out payments not only between the retailer and customer, but also between the retailer and energy generators, other retailers and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and other industry networks.
You can find the ‘NPP and utilities – Transforming the customer experience’ whitepaper here.