December 19, 2023
3 Improvements Water Districts Should Make to Modernize Billing Operations
Is your water district running outdated manual billing processes? You’re not alone. In this article, we explore steps water districts can take to modernize their billing processes – and why these improvements are so necessary to your internal operations and the resident experience.
A manual billing process, by nature, is prone to errors – not to mention bogs down your team from other important tasks. Outdated infrastructure can also cause challenges like inaccurate usage data, inaccurate water bills and unhappy residents – creating even more work for your already busy team.
If your water district struggles with these problems, it’s time to modernize. Here are three things you can do to modernize your billing operations.
3 Improvements to Modernize Billing Operations
Improvement #1: Update Metering Systems
The first area water districts can look to improve is their water metering infrastructure. Many districts have gone decades without improving or investing in their water meters. If this is the case for your water district, updating your metering system is a great place to start modernizing your billing operations.
A relatively easy upgrade to make to your water meters is implementing an Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system on your existing meters. This technology allows you to collect consumption data from your water meters remotely, reducing the need for manual readings.
AMR systems also go a step further to improve usage accuracy and reduce errors. AMR also makes it possible for your water district to collect and analyze up-to-the-minute usage data. This allows you to catch spikes in usage that could indicate a leak much sooner, allowing you to rectify the problem before it impacts your customers.
Improvement #2: Invest in Digital Tools
Online and cloud-based billing and payment systems are becoming more and more popular in water districts of all sizes. As more and more services move to online portals, more residents expect easy and convenient ways to pay their bill online and monitor their usage.
If your water district is still sending mail-only bills, it’s time to invest in your digital presence. Not only will your residents appreciate the ease and convenience of paying their bills and managing their accounts, but also your team will spend less time with manual billing tasks.
There are many ways water districts can begin to update and improve their digital capabilities. Here are a few to look into:
- Implement an online portal that lets residents view usage and past bills, so they can plan their future water usage to meet their budget.
- Provide a mobile app that allows residents to access their water bill information no matter where they are.
- Offer a variety of bill payment options, including online bill payment and auto payment.
- Create easier ways for residents to get in touch with customer service via email, text, or online messaging.
- Give residents the option for bill delivery, whether that’s paper billing or paperless billing.
- Provide online resources and FAQs to address common customer inquiries.
Improvement #3: Implement More Advanced Analytics and Forecasting
Once you’ve updated your water meters and implemented digital tools, your water district will be able to implement more advanced utility data analytics.
From that data, your water district can begin to better understand consumption patterns and forecast demand. This helps with optimizing water distribution, planning infrastructure upgrades, and ensuring resource efficiency.
The Benefits of Modernizing Billing Operations
Taking on any of these improvements to modernize your water district’s billing operations comes with many benefits for both your team and the residents in your district.
Benefits for Your Team
- Increased Efficiency: Automation of meter reading and billing processes reduces manual errors and increases overall operational efficiency.
- Cost Reduction: Automated processes, such as meter reading and billing, can lead to cost savings by minimizing the need for manual labor and reducing paper-based transactions.
- Real-Time Data Insights: AMR provides real-time data on water consumption, enabling better decision-making and resource allocation. Data analytics tools assist in forecasting demand, optimizing resources, and planning infrastructure upgrades more efficiently.
- Improved Accuracy: Automated systems reduce the risk of human errors in meter reading and billing, leading to more accurate and reliable data.
- Streamlined Operations: Cloud-based billing systems and integrated technologies streamline various operational processes, making it easier for staff to manage and maintain records.
Benefits for Residents
- Convenient Bill Payment: Online billing and payment systems, as well as mobile apps, provide customers with convenient options to view bills, track usage, and make payments. This accessibility increases the likelihood that more bills will get paid on time.
- Transparent and Timely Information: Real-time data and alerts keep customers informed about their water usage, promoting transparency and helping them identify and address issues promptly.
- Resident Empowerment: Self-service portals empower customers to manage their accounts, set up preferences, and take control of their water usage and ultimately use less water.
- Reduced Billing Disputes: Automated systems and accurate billing reduce the likelihood of billing disputes. This means more satisfied residents and less work for your team rectifying billing disputes.
- Prompt Issue Resolution: Many digital tools allow residents to report problems. This means your team can respond to issues quickly, leading to faster issue resolution and improved resident satisfaction.
How A Utility Billing Expert Can Help
Implementing improvements to modernize your water district’s billing operations is easier said than done — especially when you have tight resources and other responsibilities on your team’s plate. That’s why many water districts have outsourced these improvements to expert water billing providers.
An outsourced water billing provider can offer water districts invaluable utility billing expertise as they go about modernizing their systems to make internal operations more efficient. In addition to these improvements, an outsourced provider can take water billing tasks completely off your team’s plate, allowing you to stay focused on your core competencies as you undertake these improvements.
That’s why firms like Synergy exist. We can handle all aspects of your water billing system improvements, from consultation and system optimization to bill generation and collection. Whether you’re looking to make incremental improvements or a large billing system overhaul, we’re here to help guide you through each step of the process.
Get in touch with Synergy. Our team is here to help your water district modernize billing operations.