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KUBRA Billing and Payments Research Sheds Light on Rising Trends

July 31, 2023

This spring, KUBRA continued our utility billing and payments research to identify industry trends to help utilities stay on top of customer preferences and expectations. After a deep dive into the findings, we discovered a growing demand for digital options among consumers, including rising interest in digital experiences and interactions. While digital has been a popular payment option for purchases for at least a decade or more, today, it increasingly extends to bill payments. 

As a utility, you can take comfort in knowing that 76% of utility customers view their payment experience as good or excellent. Before you think there’s no work to be done, about a quarter of customers still rate their experience as fair or poor. Below we share what customers like about digital payment solutions, which ones they use, and why. This will help you better understand your customers’ preferences so you can deliver the payment experiences they want.

Customers Want Access to Better Digital Payments

The fact that customers want digital payment methods isn’t news to you. Customers like them for their ease, convenience, and time-saving. What you may not know is that improving digital payments directly impacts customer satisfaction and timely payments. Our research found that 52% of utility customers said that improving digital payments would increase their overall satisfaction with their biller. An additional 45% believed it would help them make payments on time, while 35% thought it would increase their trust and confidence in their biller. If you want to show your customers that you’re committed to innovation, improving your digital payments should be at the top of your to-do list.

Traditional Payment Methods Are Becoming Passé

Move over bank websites; mobile apps are now the top payment method for customers. A detailed comparison of the most popular payment channels showed mobile apps at 53%, followed by biller websites at 46%, and bank websites at 37%. These numbers confirm that customers are leaving traditional payment channels, like mail-in, behind. All signs point to this trend growing as consumers build trust with digital channels.

What Mobile App Features Your Customers Prefer

It’s one thing to build a mobile app for your customers. It’s another to make one that offers the features they want. We can tell you that it’s everything from viewing and paying a bill to having access to payment and bill history, bill alerts and reminders, payment receipts, and automatic payments. Customers also appreciate receiving unusually high bill alerts, being able to access information about service interruptions and managing consumption, and the ability to download bills. Including these features in your mobile app will help you meet the growing needs of your customers.

Quick Payment Processing Is an Expectation

They say that waiting is the hardest part, which is probably why customers don’t want to do it anymore! Our culture of instant gratification has officially spilled into payments. A whopping  98% expect their payment to be processed within three days or less. Breaking it down, 29% expect payments to be processed instantly, 36% expect the same day, 20% expect it to be processed the next day, and 13% expect it to be processed in 2-3 days. By offering digital payments, you can improve your payment processing times to align with customer expectations.

More Customers Prefer Paperless Billing - But Some Still Like Paper

If you’ve had trouble increasing your paperless billing adoption rate, we’ve got good news. When asked, 64% of respondents indicated that they prefer to receive statements by email, 24% via online website, 30% via mobile app, 20% via text message, and 10% prefer to receive them via the bank website - so it may just be about making them aware you offer paperless billing. But remember, everyone is unique, so there will never be a one size fits all solution that makes every customer happy. For instance, 42% still prefer to receive statements by mail because they find paper bills easier to review, they serve as a reminder to pay, and they worry about missing a payment if they opt for digital. This stresses the importance of offering your customers an omni-channel billing solution.

Digital Payments Options Are a Must for Increasing Customer Satisfaction

In today's digital era, offering various payment options has become essential for maintaining customer satisfaction. As digital-first generations take on billpayer responsibilities, providing convenient and secure digital payment methods is necessary. By catering to customers' evolving preferences, utilities can streamline the payment process, improve customer experiences, and ultimately strengthen customer loyalty. Embracing digital payment options is no longer a luxury but a necessity for utilities wishing to meet the expectations of modern-day customers.

For a more in-depth look at our research and how it compares to 2020, check out our white paper, KUBRA Utility Billing and Payments Report 2023.

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