CRC's Billing IVR Offers Additional Payment Options for Consumers
CRC's Billing IVR Offers Additional Payment Option for Consumers

We’re all familiar with how technology has advanced the way people complete day-today tasks. Smartphones, smart appliances, and artificial intelligence technology have infiltrated our lives – for better or for worse – to assist us with managing our daily to-dos.

The same is true with regard to bill payment options. In the old days, the norm was to either pay an electric bill by mail or in-person at the utility’s office. With the advent of the internet and other technology, payment options expanded to include offerings that consumers can pay at their own convenience at little or no cost without leaving the comfort of their homes.

Ultimately technology has offered consumers multiple options to pay a bill. Which payment method is best? That depends on the person. While some consumers wish to speak to an agent, there are others who prefer to use automation to complete their transaction. For a progressive organization, the best course of action is to offer multiple payment options to meet the needs of all of the utility’s consumers.

While its reputation is known for focusing on the human side of technology, Cooperative Response Center, Inc. (CRC), realizes that offering consumers various methods to pay their bills will lead to more satisfied consumers. Accordingly, CRC offers bill payment services with agent assistance as well as an automated solution.

Throughout the years, CRC has worked with its membership to offer assistance with processing bill payments. Traditionally that has involved working with callers and their utility payment website to conduct a payment transaction. When Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards required that businesses keep credit card information private, taking payments over the phone with a live agent became more complicated, especially considering the fact that CRC records all of its incoming calls. Early in 2016, CRC began offering a PCI compliant payment option with live agents using a product called CallGuard. CallGuard enables callers to make credit card payments while keeping their card information confidential. (Visit our website to read more about CRC’s live call-handling PCI compliant payment solution).

In late 2016, CRC began offering another payment option with its new billing IVR, offering utilities and callers an additional PCI-compliant payment solution to pay their bills. To use CRC’s billing IVR, a utility’s customer information system (CIS) needs to include a payment gateway that is supported by Milsoft Utility Solutions.

Features of the billing IVR system include the ability for consumers to check their account balance and make a payment without having to speak to an agent. The process of how a billing call is routed is customizable and depends on a utility’s preference of how they want calls to flow. For some CRC billing IVR users, those callers that are not able to complete their billing transaction in the IVR will be sent to a live agent for assistance. Other utilities prefer to limit their consumer’s payment option to complete in the IVR only. In that case, if the call is unable to complete, the caller will have to contact the utility for assistance.

The most notable benefit to utilizing a billing IVR is cost, since completing a call via automation is significantly cheaper than a call that is completed with a live agent. That’s one of the reasons CRC member Inter-County Energy Cooperative in Danville, Kentucky, utilizes CRC’s billing IVR. The 26,000-consumer distribution cooperative located in central Kentucky has been using the billing IVR for over a year.

“The IVR system saves the members time and helps reduce the number of calls coming into our office,” said Lori Stocker, vice president, office services, at the cooperative. “The biggest benefit is the cost savings. The members have embraced the IVR system and used it 61 percent compared to live agents 39 percent this past year so it is a big savings on our bill.”

The flexibility of using the IVR is another big plus for the cooperative. “Members like the control aspect and can make payments without having to talk to anyone,” Stocker explained.

Contact CRC
For more information about CRC’s billing IVR or to sign up for services, contact one of our regional business managers below.

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