Gathering Usage Data and Preparing Utility Bills
A common theme across any utility is the need to track usage and bill based for this usage. As a result, in order to bill a customer, usage data must be gathered and translated into a billable amount. This can become a very time consuming task when the steps of gathering data and translating this data into a billable amount must be repeated for each individual customer. The good news though? The repetitive nature of this process though makes it an optimal candidate to be automated through software. The first step involved in billing for most utilities is gathering usage data from meters or some other monitoring device. One option for accomplishing this is having staff manually read each meter and write down the usage. At that point the usage data can be translated into bills for each customer. This labor intensive process can however quickly become a very time consuming and costly method of managing billing. If you’re looking to automate this process there are a number of automatic meter reading (AMR) systems available to you.
Many utility billing systems have integrated automatic meter reading solutions while others will integrate with third-party meter reading systems. Whatever the setup, the end-result is the same. Utility usage information will be gathered efficiently and will be ready for use in the creation of invoices. Since the gathering of usage data is automated, you can ensure that all usage information is 100% accurate. AMR systems will help remove the risk of human error.
Automatic meter reading systems can vary greatly in their methods of tracking and complexity. Some will consist of a fully integrated network that continuously monitors and logs utility usage. This type of AMR system will give you the greatest depth of information and highest level of control. If this level of control is not needed, there are additional options available to you.
Some automatic meter reading systems will use mobile devices that connect to meters to gather usage data. This will allow you to ensure that your data is 100% accurate eliminating any human error. If you are, however, looking to improve the productivity of the meter reading process, a wireless AMR system offers just the solution. Wireless automatic meter reading systems send data to a device within a certain proximity of the meter. This means that staff can just drive down the street while data is gathered automatically.
Once usage information is gathered a utility billing system will automatically create invoices. These systems will give you a number of options for invoice delivery and payment acceptance.
Utility Invoice Creation
Utility billing software will give you a plethora of features all designed to save you time. Batch invoicing will allow you to print or email invoices with one push of a button. This will ensure you don’t have to print/email each invoice individually. Utility billing systems will also allow you to setup different pricing structures for different customer types, so you don’t need to manually adjust billable amounts. If you bill on a subscription or flat-fee basis, recurring invoicing features will automatically create your invoices on a set schedule. All of these features are designed to automate the process of invoice creation and delivery.
After invoices are delivered to the customer a strong utility billing system will manage the process of collecting payments from your customers.
Utility Billing Software for Managing Collections and Customer Payments
Once invoices are issued, utility billing software will give you a number of options for managing collections and receiving payments. Utility billing systems will track outstanding payments due. Additionally, many of them will have the ability to automatically print or email late notices when a customer is past due. These systems will also apply late fees for these customers automatically.
A strong utility billing system will give you the tools needed to manage customers with multiple locations. You will be able to setup multiple locations for a single customer. Their invoices will then detail amounts being charged for each location. This will ensure that one customer is not receiving multiple invoices in a billing period.
A number of utility billing systems will give your customers an online payment portal. This portal will allow your customers to log-on using a password and pay their bills instantly. This level of convenience ensures that payments are received as soon as possible.
Whether you are a small utility with just a few dozen customers or a large utility with thousands of customers, there is a utility billing solution available for you. These systems are designed with your needs in mind and hence will provide the maximum level of automation for you.