Author: Todd Ross, Director, Customer Relations at ERTH Corporation
As utilities explore ways to reduce operational costs and improve efficiency, a substantial shift in companies are opting to outsource their back-end billing services. Not only does outsourcing make sense for large companies with complex billing cycles and rate structures, it is also highly advantageous for a smaller scale utility that lacks resourcing to manage billing internally.
Billing is the most complicated clerical activity within a utility and accompanies an inherent high level of risk. Errors in the billing process can result in major financial implications and can detrimentally mark public image. By leveraging the expertise, resources and infrastructure of a third-party service provider like ERTH, utility companies can mitigate a large portion of that risk. Service providers that bill for multiple organizations, encounter a variety of exceptions and variance checks that are typically shared across all customers. This leads to improved validation, editing and estimating (VEE) techniques and tools. As a subject matter expert with nearly 20 years of utility billing experience, ERTH has developed a robust set of tools and processes that ensure comprehensive VEE on each account, significantly reducing errors and adjustments.
Reducing operational costs and increasing efficiency
As staff retire, exit the company or take extended leaves of absence, training new employees on the complexities and nuances of energy billing can be extremely time consuming, challenging and costly. For smaller utility companies, where staff have cross-functional roles, it can also be difficult to remain positioned on the top of testing and swift regulatory changes. By outsourcing this function of the business, utility companies can immediately realize efficiencies. Billing services can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each customer. All or a portion of billing requirements can be outsourced, whether a short-term contingency plan or long-term security.
“As a small utility, when staff are off for things like maternity leave, it is nice to be able to leverage ERTH for temporary billing services. The alternative is to try and train temporary resources, however, with the complexities of billing in Ontario, that would take more time, be more costly and introduce the risk of billing errors. ERTH provides some peace of mind.”
-Michel Poulin, Manager at Hydro Hawkesbury
Improving customer satisfaction
By removing the burden of in-house billing services, utility companies are able to enhance focus for valuable resources on other areas of the business. Improved customer service united with accurate and efficient billing leads to an enriched customer experience.
“Oshawa has outsourced billing since the energy market opened in 2002. We understood the importance of billing accuracy for both our bottom line but also our reputational risk. Leveraging a company like ERTH that specializes in billing with a roster of experienced billing agents allowed Oshawa to focus on customer service and customer engagement.”
-Angie Longworth-Barkwell, Customer Service Manager at Oshawa Power & Utilities Corporation
About ERTH Corporation:
ERTH Corporation is a diverse group of companies providing a wide range of products and services to Utilities and Municipalities. Owned by nine municipal shareholders, ERTH distributes electricity to 15 communities in southwestern Ontario and has grown to be a leading solutions provider in the areas of technology, metering, construction and substation maintenance. ERTH’s technology division specializes in bill design, document fulfillment, billing, CIS application management, cloud computing and EBT hub services. For more information visit www.erthcorp.com.