January 11, 2024
Should Water Districts Manage Water Billing In-House?
For municipal water districts juggling critical service operations, billing tasks often fall by the wayside. In this article, we explore whether water districts should keep water billing processes in-house or outsource to a water billing specialist.
A lot goes into running a water district. Your team is responsible for sourcing, treating and distributing potable water to all commercial and residential customers in your service area. To do this, your water district manages an entire network of critical infrastructure like pipes and treatment plants.
Water billing is one small – yet essential – part of this larger whole that allows you to provide reliable service to your area. But staying on top of water billing operations in light of everything else can be a challenge. Can an outsourced water billing provider help? Let’s find out.
3 Reasons Why Water Districts Should Outsource to a Water Billing Specialist
#1: Outsourcing saves time and resources
Water billing may seem easy, but to do it right, it takes attention to detail, which can take a lot of time and resources. From meter reads and data verification to invoice generation and payment collection, there are a lot of time-consuming tasks involved. Depending on how manual your billing processes are and how many customers you have in your service area, that can mean hundreds of hours of work each month just to bill your customers.
A third-party utility billing provider can save your water district time and resources by taking all those tasks completely off your team’s plate. The right provider can handle everything water billing related, including meter reading, bill generations, recovery and system optimizations to improve recovery rates.
#2: Outsourcing modernizes your water billing operations
As more and more services move to online portals and auto-pay functions, more residents expect convenient ways to pay their bills online. Having an outside expert to guide you through the changes from research to implementation will ensure your water district stays up to date.
Finding ways to modernize a manual water billing process on your own can be a challenge. Moving your billing services to online portals and cloud-based systems is confusing without the right expertise. An outsourced provider has the domain expertise your team may lack to help your water district choose the right solutions to transform your billing operations.
Whether you’re looking to update your meters to get up-to-the-minute usage metrics to reduce billing errors or if you’re looking to implement online bill pay tools for your customers, working with a third-party provider can make those transitions much easier for your team and your customers. They can consult you through every step of those improvements.
#3: Outsourcing boosts water bill recovery rates
In addition to upgrading your metering infrastructure and your digital presence, a utility billing specialist can help you boost your recovery rates by delivering bills with best billing practices in mind.
Obviously, nobody wants to pay a bill. However, there are steps water districts can take that will make residents more likely to pay their bills on time. When you onboard a third-party water billing expert, they will make sure that bills are fully optimized to be as easy to pay as possible. Here’s how:
Best Practice #1: Send fair and defensible bills.
The first thing a utility billing provider will do is make sure you send bills that are fair and defensible. To do this, they will generate bills that provide the resident with full information.
This means being transparent about your billing rates and all relevant usage metrics. They will also make sure all relevant costs are itemized. If your bills are missing information residents expect to see, your odds increase they will dispute the bill.
Best Practice #2: Send bills at a consistent and predictable cadence.
Next, they will make sure that bills are sent out at a predictable and consistent cadence.
It’s important that residents know exactly when they can expect their bills. Whether you choose to bill annually, biannually, quarterly or monthly, you need to decide on a schedule and stick to it.
Knowing when they can expect bills allows them to budget accordingly. That leads to more bills paid on time and in full, reducing days outstanding. If a bill goes out to a resident when they are not expecting, it can cause significant hardship that will result in the bill not being paid.
Best Practice #3: Make bills as easy as possible to pay.
Finally, a utility billing provider will help your water district improve the overall billing experience for residents.
Again, paying a bill is not everyone’s idea of a good experience, but there are ways that your water district can make the experience as easy and seamless as possible. An expert provider can help you improve customer experience by giving you the ability to accept multiple forms of payment, including autopay and paperless billing options. Plus, they can help you improve your customer communications by sourcing convenient customer service lines and giving your residents further options to get in touch via email, chat or text. All of this ensures that customers get their billing issues resolved as quickly as possible.
Conclusion: Take Water Billing off Your Team’s Plate
An outsourced water billing firm can offer water districts invaluable utility billing expertise while taking time-consuming billing tasks off their plate.
A firm like Synergy can handle all aspects of your water billing system. From ensuring accurate meter reads to bill generation and collection, we help your team save time and recover more costs. This allows your team to reinvest new-found time back into their most critical tasks and core responsibilities.
If you’re tired of managing water billing in-house, get in touch with Synergy. We’re experts in water billing.