Utilities making better, faster decisions

May 27, 2015 by Craig Wilson

Utilities have continued to evolve and are making better, faster decisions about customers signing up for new services.  A combination of best practices with respect to data, analytics and technology is driving efficiency, lowering costs and ensuring all customers are treated equally.  We will discuss three main areas where utilities have made significant advances:

• Customer pinning — loss reduction by using match logic to identify consumers across different systems and platforms who may have existing past due amounts

• Scoring — using specific models for risk segmentation to assist in the deposit decision

• Decisioning — choosing systems with capabilities for effectively managing their business at the relationship level and is capable of using “pins” to automatically identifying customers who have  past due amounts and using scores and other data to automate the deposit decision

Customer Pinning

Using customer pins in the account opening process is key to ensuring you are able to effectively identify consumers who are re-initiating service and may have unpaid balances. This enables you to identify the opportunity to consolidate past-due amounts before connecting new service for the consumer.  It may also be used in the determination as to whether or not a deposit may be required.

Clients see advantages with this process most often when consumers move out of and then back into a particular service market.  Another case is when a customer changes their name as a result of marriage or divorce or is added to other existing billings. These customer pins or unique identifiers can be updated in batch in order to maintain the integrity of the account linking within your accounts receivable.

Clients then ensure that with the account opening process the pin on the customer opening the account is retrieved from the consumer credit file system, then “matched” with a pin in the existing customer file that was obtained through the batch process.  It can then be determined whether that customer owes an unpaid balance from a prior account.  For optimal efficiency, this should be done by the same decisioning system that is performing the identity verification and deposit calculation for the account in a continuous workflow.

Scoring and Deposits

Increasingly, utilities are being authorized to use scores and credit data along with existing unpaid balances to determine if a deposit is warranted.  If a score is used, generally a simple cut-off is used and if a score falls below the cut off a deposit is required, otherwise it is not.

There are many types of scores in the market, but some have been developed specifically for use by energy utilities and similar service providers for the purpose of deposit determination.  One of the characteristics to look for in a score for deposit determinations is the number of customers that can be scored.  Generally, the more customers that can be scored the better as there may be many customers with thin or virtually no credit files that would be unscoreable using a traditional scoring model.

Specific bureau attributes may enhance this process when scores are near cut offs, especially if a score falls slightly below the cut off.  A decision engine may be able to use attributes to assist in supplying valuable data in a second review that may be requested by a customer who feels that they should not need to submit a deposit.

Decisioning Platform

Deploying new strategies to capture all the benefits of automating a fraud review, taking advantage of the custom pinning process, scoring and other attributes can be a challenge.  However, the market has continued to evolve to enable large and small utilities to gain access to new tools to more effectively manage their business.

There are now new solutions available, like PowerCurve OnDemand, that provide hosted data integration, incorporation of your existing customer files including pin numbers, workflow, decisioning and a simple integration with your existing technologies at a low cost of entry.  Solutions like PowerCurve OnDemand combine ease of use, with powerful capabilities that are targeted to fit the needs of the utility industry.

Learn more about how PowerCurve OnDemand can help your business.