August 30, 2021
How to Improve Your Resident Utility Billing Experience
Resident retention is a key metric of your property’s success. One way to ensure tenants stay—and pay their bills—is to improve the resident utility billing experience. In this blog, we outline two ways to achieve this.
Unjustified bills. Inconsistent billing schedules. Poor communication from the billing company. These issues make for a negative resident utility billing experience, which is a problem for landlords who are trying to retain residents, recover costs and raise their bottom line. Here’s why.
Why the Resident Utility Billing Experience Matters
As a landlord, you depend on rentals and paid bills to maximize cost recovery and overall net operating income (NOI). Ultimately, your success requires keeping your building full.
This means you need to provide an outstanding resident experience. While nobody likes paying bills, a pleasant resident utility billing experience makes it more likely that your residents will pay, preventing a larger problem like vacating the unit.
On the other hand, a poor resident utility billing experience will drive tenants away, and your bottom line—and entire business model—suffers. Let’s look closer at this issue.
5 Signs of a Poor Billing Experience
When the resident utility billing experience is good, tenants pay their bills and stay. On the contrary, a lousy utility billing system results in vacancies and lost income.
Here are five signs of a poor resident utility billing experience:
1. Complaints about high, unjustified bills
2. Inconsistent billing schedule
3. Increasing amount of delinquent bills
5. Lower property value
The problems of a poor billing experience are clear. But once you recognize these signs, how do you fix them?
More often than not, the root cause of a poor resident utility billing experience is an inadequate billing company. This means they’re not calculating bills correctly, not providing informative or timely invoices, and providing poor customer service. They also may not understand your property to deliver billing statements that align with your needs and your residents’ ability to realistically pay them.
With that in mind, here’s how you can turn your resident utility billing experience into a positive one for everyone involved.
Providing a Better Resident Utility Billing Experience: 2 Steps
#1. GET A BETTER BILLING COMPANY
To improve your utility billing experience for residents, you need to find a better billing company that focuses on three key aspects:
1. Accurate billing
2. Consistent billing schedule
3. Good customer service
Residents want bills that are accurate and informative so they feel their charges are justified.
If the bill is incorrect or unrealistic, it won’t be payable. A good billing company will tweak billing methods to fit your property’s needs and help you uncover opportunities to maximize rates, while calculating accurate, realistic and payable bills. That way, residents are more likely to pay on time and in full.
Consistent Billing Schedule
Residents are more likely to pay their bills when they arrive on a consistent schedule because they are able to plan for it in their budget and anticipate the due date. If the bill arrives on a random day each month, it throws off the resident, and they will be more likely to miss the payment deadline.
So, a good billing company needs to provide not only accurate bills but also timely bills. You want to make the resident utility billing experience a habit for tenants, so they think of it as a regular, expected monthly expense.
Good Customer Service
Billing companies should be about much more than just sending the utility bills. All in all, you should look for a billing company that puts emphasis on the customer experience.
With a team of dedicated and knowledgeable customer service representatives, residents can get their questions answered efficiently. For example, if a tenant has a complaint about a high bill, the customer service team can explain the charges. In our experience, a tenant that fully understands their bill is more likely to pay it. So, a good customer service team goes a long way to boost the resident utility billing experience.
Good customer service also involves transparency. Your billing company should provide an online portal that shows residents their real-time utility usage and justifies their bills. They can even take it a step further and include multiple charges (rent, utilities, garbage disposal, security, parking, internet, cable, pets and more) on one bill. Residents only need to worry about one due date for all utilities—talk about a great resident utility billing experience.
#2. EDUCATE YOUR RESIDENTS
Just like any other vendor you work with, you as the landlord are responsible for educating your residents about the billing process. If there is no education on their utility responsibilities and various conservation methods, it will become a poor resident utility billing experience, bills will not be paid and the problem may escalate into vacancies.
To help residents understand utility billing, you can:
- Inform residents of their responsibilities for utility billing
- Explain the billing method
- Make clear how they will be billed
- Educate residents on utility conservation methods to reduce usage and costs
Your utility billing company can help with this education and communication, too. They should educate you about how to roll out a successful utility billing experience, arming you with what you need to properly educate your residents.
The bread and butter of your property is rentals. But if you have a poor resident experience—across the board but especially in utility billing—your residents will leave your property.
That’s why you should take steps to improve the resident utility billing experience. To do this, work with a qualified billing company that understands your property, and don’t neglect educating your residents on the utility billing process. At the end of the day, a better billing experience comes down to communication and transparency between billing companies, landlords and residents.