Entries by Dana Fennell

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Reducing Fraudulent Accounts

Before coming to work at United Systems, I had never once heard of fraudulent utility accounts. I quickly learned that this was a very serious and costly issue that many utilities face. Let me explain… we’re going to call our customer Judy. Judy doesn’t pay her bill, and her service gets shut off. Instead of paying the bill and the fee for reconnection, Judy comes in and opens an account in her boyfriend, John’s name. A couple of months go by, and John’s account gets shut off. Well, here come Judy and John, and they open an account in their son, Joe’s, name and the cycle continues. Accounts opened in roommates, spouses, and even kids names happen regularly. The delinquent amounts and disconnect/reconnect fees are never recovered, and the utility takes a loss.

Working closely with utilities over the last several years has led me to some best practices to avoid these types of fraudulent accounts.

  • First, you want to ensure that your CIS/utility billing software allows you to store customers’ driver’s licenses and related identification numbers, etc.
  • Second, you want to ensure that you are gathering and storing this information on the customer record. We suggest that if you have not been attaching this information to customer or account records, you update or add the info as you interact with customers— real-time.
  • For an added step of security, scan an image of the customer’s driver’s license or I.D. Economical, high-speed I.D. scanners are most helpful to your CSR’s during this process.
  • Utilize CIS service applications and attach these images directly to their CIS billing account.
  • When a customer comes in to open a new account, look-up their service location of record to determine if there are any disconnected or delinquent accounts at that location.
  • Also, search by name to examine if they have additional accounts left delinquent at other service locations.

The key to overcoming fraudulent accounts is information. Ensuring that your CIS/billing software stores the necessary information and tracks relevant data on the customer, location, and billing account is essential.  This software functionality used in conjunction with the record-keeping steps above can save your utility money in the long run!

Have questions or want to learn more? Reach out to our highly trained account management team: 

Phone: 1.800.455.3293

Email: marketing@united-systems.com

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Should you be using a single source provider?

Is your utility using multiple vendors for utility billing, online bill pay, financial management, outsourced billing, network management, and meter reading software? The typical answer is: “yes.” The majority of utilities spread their technology and software services across multiple vendors. Each of these vendors have their own requirements, processes, and support. Integrations between systems are pieced together and tend to cause more headaches than benefits. Finding a vendor that meets all your utility’s technology needs is a rare occurrence. United Systems is that vendor.

Since 1977 United Systems’ priority has been helping utilities meet their goals through the use of technology. We developed comprehensive solutions based on direct feedback from our customers that addresses the specific needs of utilities. Through this process, we have discovered that many utilities struggle daily with using multiple systems to accomplish tasks that should be cohesive. We took these struggles to heart and have worked to create solutions that meet these needs in a coherent and all-encompassing manner.

United Systems & Software, Inc. offers a comprehensive suite of software designed to meet the utility billing needs, inventory needs, asset management needs, and financial needs of utilities as well as various city management functions. Our in-house staff develops all of our software, and from its inception, our software is designed with seamless integration in mind. As the nation’s leading Itron, Inc. AMR & Fixed Network Distributor, we are innately aware of the meter reading needs of utilities and how vital it is that your meter reading system and utility billing software compliment and communicate with each other. Our TPM by United Systems team consists of networking professionals that have the knowledge and skills necessary to keep your utility infrastructure safe and to ensure that your hardware is up to date, secure, and functioning properly.

Having multiple different vendors for all these functions can make day to day operations difficult at a utility. In situations where a utility is using various different vendors, the system tends to be disjointed. Employees have to go between many different vendors, with each vendor blaming the other for the issues the utility is experiencing most times. Getting answers and solutions is like swimming, upstream…difficult, and useless. Your readings aren’t importing correctly; do you call your software vendor, your AMR/AMI vendor, or is it a networking issue preventing the file from importing? Your general ledger entries are out of balance; did you enter an entry from your utility billing incorrectly, was it a voucher paid to a vendor, or a payroll entry? Where do you even start?

With United Systems, you only have one vendor to call. We support and assist you with your entire system from your telephones, to protecting your data, to the radio transponders on your meters, to ensuring that your utility bills are printed and mailed on time. 

Have questions or want to learn more? Reach out to our highly trained account management team: 

Phone: 1.800.455.3293

Email: marketing@united-systems.com

2020 Alliance Users’ Conference Cancelled

One of our top priorities at United Systems is the health and well being of our employees, customers, and partners. After much discussion and consideration, we have elected to CANCEL the 2020 Alliance Users’ Conference in Nashville, TN, due to public health and safety concerns directly related to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.  While our initial intention was to reschedule for October of 2020, we believe that this decision is in the best interest of all related parties and communities.
 
We are saddened that we won’t be able to meet with our valued customers but are looking forward to planning a productive and memorable event for attendees in 2021.

During this interim, we are considering hosting remote webinars where we discuss various features and best practices in various Alliance software applications. We ask that you take the short survey linked below. 

We will be posting updates and details on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Make sure that you like and follow these pages to stay up to date on all United Systems news and events!

New Headquarters: Continued Progress

We’re proud and excited to continue progress on our new headquarters located in Southwest One Industrial Park.  We initially broke ground on this project in September of 2019. Substantial progress has been made throughout 2020, with an anticipated completion date of January 2021.

As a direct result of hard work and continued high demand for our new products and services, we have experienced rapid growth over the past five years. Our new headquarters comes out of a desire to enhance our production, improve service to our customers, and a need to accommodate further growth of our team. We want to thank our customers for their continued support and are privileged to be able to contribute to economic growth in Western Kentucky.

Follow us on social media for continued updates and check out the link below for a live stream of building progress:

Building Live Stream