BlastPoint’s interactive software empowers utility companies to find, engage & support energy-insecure customers—before they miss a payment.
Nearly a third of Americans struggle to pay their monthly utility bills, according to a 2018 report by the American Energy Information Administration (EIA). One in five households skip grocery shopping—a phenomenon the National Institutes of Health call the “heat or eat” dilemma—or go without essential medicines just so they can pay an energy bill.
Energy insecurity, defined by NIH researcher Diana Hernández as the “inability to adequately meet basic household energy needs,” is a major problem around the globe, and it could increase as more catastrophic weather events occur that cause severe cold and heat snaps, requiring more energy-intensive and costly heating or cooling in homes.
Consumers who are vulnerable to energy insecurity to begin with are also, unfortunately, vulnerable to missing utility bill payments, especially during extreme temperatures. Many energy providers assess late fees or restore-service penalties, increasing the amount due. That’s when a snowball effect takes shape, and those at-risk customers who were behind 30 days are now more likely to fall behind 60 or 90 days, because their balances are that much greater. Defaults happen, payments are taken over by collection agencies, communication breaks down, and the snowball effect only worsens for those at-risk customers.
For utility companies, that can mean lost revenue, steep expenditures on call centers and personnel costs for employees who are tasked with attempting to contact defaulting customers to recoup the money owed.
According to Power Engineering International, “Many suppliers have built bad debt charges and provisions for write-off into operating overheads; in the case of some major companies, outstanding debt levels are as high as annual profits, highlighting the magnitude of the opportunity lost by utilities unable to manage debt levels effectively.”
To leverage that lost opportunity, utility companies can get proactive early on in the customer journey by identifying at-risk consumers before they fall behind on a payment. How?
Through smart solutions like BlastPoint. Predictive behavior algorithms and location analytics like ours guide utility companies to get in front of billing defaults long before they happen.
Here are some of the ways utilities are using AI like BlastPoint to recoup lost revenue and drive social responsibility in their coverage areas:
- Identify vulnerable consumers who are at high risk of default at the household level
- Engage and reach those customers through the right channels to keep communication open and positive
- Enroll them in budget billing to ensure their payment amounts are consistent and manageable
- Connect them with federal funding assistance programs like LIHEAP and CAP, preventatively
- Prove geographic need to designate more federal assistance funds to customers ahead of the competition
- Decrease negative health & social impacts that accompany energy insecurity
- Eliminate the “heat-or-eat” dilemma
- Improve overall customer satisfaction
- Diminish call center costs
Building a proactive strategy that optimizes the benefits of AI, utilities can partner with companies like ours to stay ahead of the competition. Ensure that your energy-insecure customers receive the services and payment plans they need to meet their obligations, and watch your business grow.
For a free demo that explains how BlastPoint can help you cut back on customer billing defaults, fill out this short request form and we’ll be in touch right away!