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KUBRA Consumer Billing and Payment Report Helps Utilities Navigate the Changing Payments Landscape

September 7, 2023

The utility sector has shifted dramatically in recent years, driven by changing customer preferences and technological advancements. In 2023, KUBRA reaffirmed its dedication to understanding the evolving landscape of customer billing and payment behaviors within the utility industry. This blog summarizes the key findings of KUBRA’s nationwide survey, which captured the sentiments and perspectives of 1,099 adults over 18 who actively manage their bill and mortgage payments.

Aligning With Changing Customer Expectations

As expected, the report highlights utility customers' clear preference for digital payment methods. We say ‘as expected’ because the writing has been on the wall for years. Customers have become more accustomed to and appreciative of digital purchases. They want bill payment solutions that deliver the same seamless experience. 

If expanding your digital channels has been on the back burner, this growing demand for digital experiences and interactions should signal that the time to act is now. 

Striving for Exceptional Customer Experiences

Although most customers view their payment experiences positively, with 49% considering them "Good" and 27% rating them as "Excellent," there is always room for improvement when it comes to customer experience. Proactively addressing the concerns of the 21% who deem their experiences as "Fair" and the 3% who rate them as "Poor” should be where you focus your attention first. According to utility customers, improving access to digital payment options improves customer experience. 52% said that enhancing digital payments would elevate their satisfaction with their biller, 45% believed it would improve on-time payments, and 35% expected it would increase trust. Other benefits included a greater willingness to engage (29%) and that it showcased biller innovation (23%).

As a biller, you should know that boosting overall customer satisfaction requires a solid commitment to adapting to your customers' changing needs and preferences.

Digital Payments Are a Driving Force for Convenience

Customers like to use online payments because they feel they’re easy, convenient, and time-saving. A staggering 78% of respondents identified ease as a key factor driving their desire to pay bills online, followed by 73% who say it is convenient and 61% who feel it saves them time. These three factors are closely related and will continue to impact utility customers' choices strongly. 

This data aligns with the underlying trend that customers seek seamless and convenient digital interactions in all aspects of their lives. It further emphasizes the need for utilities to deliver this kind of experience to meet customer expectations.

Rising Demand for Digital Solutions

There’s no denying there’s mounting demand for digital payment options. It seems the more customers use digital solutions, the greater their appetite for them. While we’ve been monitoring this behavioral change for several years, we uncovered a broader shift in customer behavior this year. Most notably in the popularity of mobile apps. 53% of customers prefer using mobile apps to pay their bills, followed by biller websites (46%) and bank websites (37%) as the top payment solutions.

You should also be aware that there is a growing preference for digital bill delivery methods, including email, mobile apps, and text messages.

Cards Reign as Top Consumer Payment Choice

When asked what their favorite payment methods were, over 50% of respondents selected credit and debit cards as their payment methods. It may be surprising that check is the next most popular choice at 22%. Rounding out the top five are direct bank accounts (ACH) at 20% and PayPal at 17%. The popularity of credit cards makes sense in the current economic climate. Customers are increasingly relying on credit to meet their financial obligations during this high inflationary, high-interest rate period. 

With options like “buy now, pay later” and cryptocurrency in the wings, you need to stay on top of and be ready to adopt new payment methods to meet the evolving payment needs of your customers.

Accelerating Payment Processing Expectations

Customers’ tolerance for waiting, whether in line or on hold, is waning, and with that comes less patience for slow payment processing. Our research found that customer expectations for fast payment processing are rising. A staggering 98% expect their payment to be processed within three days or less (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). 

Customers’ need for speed emphasizes the importance of offering quick payment processing options to satisfy customer demands.

Embracing Change for Future Success

In order to provide your customers with what they want today and tomorrow, it is essential to stay current on the latest payment trends and continuously adapt alongside your customers. This proactive evolution is key to enhancing engagement and satisfaction. With the help of our KUBRA iDoxs Suite, your customers can enroll in e-billing, check account balances, view bills, or bill information on desktop and mobile devices. When they want to pay their bills, KUBRA EZ-PAY provides flexible, on-demand payment options that support a variety of payment types and a multitude of payment channels. Putting digitization at the heart of everything you do will help improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and operational efficiency. 

By harnessing the insights from the KUBRA Utility Consumer Billing and Payments Report, you can navigate this dynamic landscape and tailor your offerings to align with the digital aspirations of your customers.

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