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Illustration of deferred payment programs for energy utilities

Case Study: Deferred Payment Programs Provide Relief

With state disconnection bans ending, more than 179 million Americans risk losing their electric service due to unpaid bills. As the economy continues to suffer as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many energy utilities are taking action to help customers facing financial hardship.

Helping utility customers with deferred payment programs

In August 2020, Questline partnered with a major IOU in the Northeast to provide assistance to the utility’s customers with past due account balances. Questline created an email and one-click landing page to encourage enrollment in the utility’s Deferred Payment Arrangement (DPA) program. This payment assistance program allows customers to pay their past due balance over an agreed period of time (12, 18 or 24 months). Enrollment required no money down regardless of past payment history, giving customers additional financial relief. 

The DPA program email used dynamic data to pre-populate a customer’s name, account number and balance due. It was a text-centered email, with some modifications made to make it transactional. The email linked to a one-click landing page, hosted by Questline, with personalized customer information and a drop-down menu to choose the customers’ preferred payment term options. After selecting their payment term and clicking submit, customers reached a confirmation page. 

Resounding results and ROI 

On Sept. 8, the email was sent to 73,745 customers with unpaid account balances. The one-off email experienced high customer engagement with an open rate of 45.6%, click-to-open rate of nearly 41% and a click-through rate of 18.6%. Questline’s performance metrics show the program promotion truly resonated with an audience experiencing financial crisis.

In fact, within the first 72 hours of the email deployment, the DPA program garnered 11,930 enrollments, representing a staggering $20.8 million in past due balances. The email and landing page proved to be a tremendous success, providing the energy utility with an ROI of roughly 7,000%.

Customer engagement snapshot   

  • 91,323 total opens
  • 32,872 unique opens
  • 17,313 total clicks
  • 13,428 unique clicks
  • 97.77% delivery rate
  • 45.59% open rate
  • 40.85% click-to-open rate
  • 18.62% CTR

Customer satisfaction and cost savings

The DPA promotional email and landing page prevented millions in delinquent accounts from being actively collected. As a result, the energy utility saved countless dollars in printing and mailing costs, while significantly reducing personnel costs and workload for the utility’s internal collections department. It also prevented the energy utility from outsourcing to a debt collection agency for the high volume of unpaid balances.

This customer communication will no doubt have a positive impact on the utility’s customer satisfaction scores. While some customers may still default on the payment terms, the program gives customers an opportunity to ease their financial burden and acknowledge their energy utility as a helpful resource during tough times.

Deferred payment programs provide hope during hardship

In this unprecedented time, energy utilities should encourage enrollment in their payment assistance programs. With no end in sight for the pandemic and a troubled economy, your energy utility needs to provide customers with relief. This promotional email and landing page has resulted in significant cost savings for the energy utility. But more than that — it has shown customers that behind their energy utility are people just like them.

Promote your utility’s payment options with a digital marketing solution from Questline.