Are you offering incentives?

Last week, a newsletter subscriber emailed me and inquired if I had written about offering incentives for customers signing up for bank drafts or paperless billing (ebilling). I have touched on it in the past, but I’ve not written a full article devoted to incentives, so it was a timely suggestion for this week’s newsletter.

Why provide incentives?

Providing incentives for your customers to sign up for bank drafts or ebilling (or both, ideally) entices more customers to participate and saves your utility money in the long run.

The more customers who take advantage of bank drafts, the fewer cash or check payments you have to process. If you’re interested in determining what it costs to process cash and check payments, you can use my Cashier Payment Calculator and Mail Payment Calculator to find out.

Likewise, the more customers who opt in for ebilling, the lower your printing and postage costs will be. An added benefit to ebilling is your customers receive their bills several days sooner, due to the increased delivery times the Postal Service has implemented.

Financial incentives

The one incentive most likely to generate a response from your customers is money! A number of utilities have recognized this and offer financial incentives to customers who sign up for bank drafts and ebilling.

Some offer a one-time credit on the customer’s bill while others offer a smaller, monthly credit. Either way, you are using a discount on their bill to incentivize your customers to sign up.

As an example, my cell phone provider offers a $5.00 credit per line per month for signing up for auto pay by bank draft. Obviously, they place a significant value on receiving payments electronically as opposed to having to process a check payment. Auto pay also alleviates the need for any follow up with customers who don’t pay on time.

Another good customer service incentive is to offer to waive a late fee if a customer calls to complain about being penalized and agrees to sign up for bank drafts. This is especially helpful if they feel like mail delays kept you from receiving their payment on time. Be sure to remind them that, with bank drafts, they will never be late again!

Prize drawings and giveaways

Other utilities have used prize drawings and giveaways as incentives. A popular prize drawing is for gift cards. Offering periodic prize drawings generates more enthusiasm than a single prize drawing. So, consider offering a weekly or monthly drawing during your promotional period.

A refillable drink cup emblazoned with your utility’s logo is a great giveaway. It encourages your customers to refill it with tap water and publicizes your utility at the same time. This publicity could lead to other customers signing up for bank drafts or ebills in order to get their own cup. If you don’t have refillable cups, what other swag do you have that you could use as a giveaway?

What incentives have you tried?

If your utility has successfully offered incentives for either bank drafts or ebilling, please let me know. You can give me a call at 919-673-4050, or email me at I’ll share any novel ideas in a future newsletter.

Upcoming seminar

The Utility Management Committee of NC One Water is sponsoring a customer service seminar entitled Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional: Choose Growth! The seminar will be held at Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro on March 19 and will offer an online option for those who can’t attend in person. The topics to be covered include:

  • Rates and Affordability
  • Board Communication and KPIs
  • Process Improvement
  • Succession Planning and Workforce Development
  • Self-Care and Personal Goal Setting

For more information, or to register for the seminar, please click here.

Is your office struggling?

Is your utility struggling to find ways to reduce walk-in and mail payments or increase ebilling adoption? If you are, please give me a call at 919-673-4050, or email me at to learn more about how a business review could help you find creative ways to solve those problems.

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© 2024 Gary Sanders


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