Blog Category: Direct Billing
Outsourcing Utility Billing: 6 Reasons Why
The Perks of Outsourcing Utility Billing to a Utility Bill Printing and Mailing Services Vendor
Outsourcing utility billing has become a preferred way for cities, municipalities, and other utility companies to invoice their customers. That’s not surprising, considering the advantages that can directly impact an organization’s bottom line and level of customer satisfaction.
At Preferred Direct, we understand the challenges that your organization faces, and we have utility bill printing and mailing services—and electronic billing solutions—that will allow you to overcome them.
Let’s talk about some of the reasons why you should consider outsourcing your utility billing rather than handling it all in-house.
6 Benefits of Outsourcing Utility Billing
- Reduce operational costs.
Producing utility billing statements requires time, staff, and equipment. All of that can place a significant financial burden on your city or municipality. By outsourcing utility billing, you have an opportunity to reduce human resource expenses and eliminate the costs of maintaining hardware and software required to process and send invoices.
- Keep the cash flowing.
By outsourcing your invoicing to an experienced utility billing services provider, your billing statements will be sent accurately and on-time. Timely delivery helps keep cash flow consistent by decreasing days outstanding and reducing late payments. That can make a tremendous difference in your business’s bottom line.
- Maintain a consistent brand across all your services.
An experienced vendor will have the technology and skill to create a standardized bill format for all of the services you offer. No matter which services your customers subscribe to, you will have uniform brand recognition across all fronts. Having that brand consistency with your existing customer base can also serve as a foundation for your branding efforts beyond your borders, too.
- Improve customer satisfaction.
Outsourcing your utility billing to a vendor that specializes in custom invoices allows you to create bills that are easy to understand. It also allows you to include messages about upcoming changes and relevant news. This can not only increase customer satisfaction, but it can also reduce the workload on your customer service call centers. Clear and well-organized invoices lead to fewer customer questions and complaints.
- Generate more revenue per customer.
You also gain opportunities to customize your utility billing statements with marketing messages. Cross-sell your products and services to different segments of your customer base and upsell customers to higher tiers of service or new offerings. When partnering with a print vendor that uses variable data to personalize messages to individual customers, you can deliver the right offers to the right people for maximal impact.
- Eliminate barriers to growth.
Scale your organization’s offerings, customer base, and revenue without incurring a massive capital investment. With billing equipment in-house, eventually, you will face the need to upgrade machinery and software to accommodate growth. That’s not the case if you outsource your utility billing. A best-in-class utility bill printing and mailing service company will have solutions that fit your needs and grow as you grow.
Selecting a Utility Bill Printing and Mailing Services Vendor
Security and Versatility
A utility billing services provider should have all of the technology and measures in place to ensure that your customer data stays safe at all times. For optimal value, also consider if a vendor has the versatility to handle your organization’s diverse needs.
Preferred Direct has years of experience and a stellar reputation in managing variable data and sensitive information to generate invoices and other notices accurately and securely.
We guarantee prompt and confidential processing of your information while giving you flexible solutions to accommodate your unique requirements. We can replicate your existing invoice format, give you templates to choose from, or create a custom design to fulfill your vision. You’ll also have several options for submitting your data to us—via our secure FTP site in .xls, .txt, .csv, or .dat formats or send .pgp encrypted files.
We handle printing, folding, inserting, presorting (for postal discounts), and delivering your utility invoices to the U.S. Post Office.
As you know, the postage costs to send invoices can add up. Fortunately, because of the large volume of mail we handle every day, we get a discount. And we extend that discount to our customers when we manage their mailings. We handle all of the logistics involved in mailing your customer statements and ensure timely delivery. Better still, we cut your postage expenses in the process.
Thanks to our streamlined process, we do it all much more quickly than you can in-house. That means your customers get their bills faster, you get paid faster, and you save money.
Electronic Billing Capabilities
While a majority of consumers prefer to receive print invoices, many also expect the ability to pay their bills online. Electronic billing solutions give customers a convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to printed statements.
Preferred Direct’s e-billing services allow your customers to view and pay their invoices securely online. Moreover, our e-billing services can decrease your billing and payment processing costs significantly. They also help reduce the number of late payments.
Outsourcing Utility Billing: A Wise Choice for More Than Just Utility Bills
For even more cost-effectiveness and convenience, consider outsourcing not only your direct billing but also other customer communications, too.
- Late payment notifications
- Disconnect notices
- Rate change notifications
- Tariff notifications
- Direct mail marketing advertisements
At Preferred Direct, we offer a full range of print and digital solutions for public and private utility companies.
- Telephone companies
- Water companies
- Natural Gas companies
- Electricity companies
When you work with us, you get a dedicated project manager who will see to it that every project meets your requirements and expectations.
Contact us to discuss how we can help you reduce your invoice processing and postage costs, improve your cash flow, and enhance your customer relationships.
HP 240T HD Roll to Roll Press
Xerox Roll to Roll Press
High Speed Inserter
A majority of respondents to an online survey conducted by Consumer Action said that they prefer to receive all types of bills by mail—even if they’ve opted to pay the bills online. For medical, utilities, insurance, property tax, mortgage, and credit card notifications, 45 to 74 percent (depending on the account category) said they choose paper over electronic communications.
And even with brands leveraging digital marketing and mobile apps, 73 percent of U.S. consumers still prefer to receive direct print mail. Why? because they can read it whenever they want.[2}
As you can see, direct mail is still relevant, especially when it’s personalized through variable data printing.
What Is Variable Data Printing and Why Is It So Important for Direct Mail?
Variable data printing (VDP) is a digital printing technique used to personalize print communications. VDP allows for various page elements, such as text and graphics, to be different on each piece of a print run.
Variable data printing can involve something as simple as changing the greeting or name on each copy of a print piece (akin to a mail merge). Or it may be more complex, involving the customization of other text and graphic elements, according to customer information, address, or other data. For example, at Preferred Direct, our variable data detailer allows us to add custom messages, coupons, maps, and other elements to invoices, letters, notices, and more.
The ability to tailor print messaging to individual recipients has become essential for maintaining customer satisfaction and generating revenue. Customers expect brands and organizations to send personalized communications. And personalized communications mean that customers receive relevant content that drives them to action (e.g., pay a bill, purchase a product, or do something else that the sender desires).
● Account statements from banks and credit unions
● Investment portfolios
● Credit card statements
● Medical bills
● Medical EOBs (Explanation of Benefits)
● Patient appointment reminders
● Collections letters
● Invoices for premiums
● Policy updates
● Insurance EOB Statements
Municipal and Energy
● Invoices for gas, water, sewer, electric, trash
● Collections letters
● Special Notices
● Cable TV invoices
● The phone company and wireless provider invoices
● Collection letters
Sales and Marketing
● Sales letters
● Fundraising campaign letters
● Event invitations
Colleges and Universities
● Financial aid statements
● Admissions letters
- Revolving credit statements
- Direct mail marketing pieces
The above examples are just a sampling of the many types of direct mail print communications that leverage variable data to make them more effective.
What to Look for in a Direct Mail Printing Provider
When choosing a direct mail printing services provider for your organization’s communications, there’s much to consider. Not all printing resources have the expertise or equipment to handle the demands of variable data printing. Using variable data is one of the reasons Why Direct Mail Is Still Relevant.
Below are some key characteristics to look for:
● Ability to handle a wide array of variable data printing applications
● Flexibility in how they can receive your data
● Experience with variable data printing applications in your industry
● Compliance with HITRUST and HIPAA
● Advanced printing technology to ensure the utmost accuracy and print quality
● Services beyond printing
Ability to handle a wide array of variable data printing applications
Your needs may evolve over time, so look for a direct mail print partner that has the knowledge, experience, and equipment to handle all types of variable data printing applications.
No matter what your organization requires, at Preferred Direct, we are equipped with the expertise and technology in-house to create all varieties of personalized print pieces.
Flexibility in how they can receive your data
Find out if the commercial printer you’re considering will allow you to send your information your way.
When you work with us, we will accept your information via a secure FTP (file transfer protocol). We aim to make the process convenient for you.
Experience with variable data printing applications in your industry
Every industry has unique concerns and nuances to address. Therefore, industry experience matters when selecting a print partner for your variable data, direct mail projects.
Preferred Direct has vast experience and a proven success record in many different industries, including those that must meet strict privacy and security requirements.
● Healthcare providers
● Insurance companies
● Financial services providers
● Colleges and Universities
● Businesses and Retail
● Nonprofit organizations
Compliance with HITRUST and HIPAA
Preferred Direct is HITRUST CSF certified. We approach every project with the HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF), the most widely adopted security framework in the U.S. healthcare industry, in mind. Following HITRUST CSF standards means we handle our customers’ data in a way that meets regulatory compliance requirements and reduces risk. [DM1]
We also adhere to the latest HIPAA regulations for protecting sensitive patient data. We apply the necessary security measures so that organizations have compliance with peace of mind.
Advanced printing technology to ensure the utmost accuracy and print quality
Technology changes at a rapid pace. To ensure you get the best quality outcomes and efficient pricing from direct mail production runs, make sure your commercial printer has the latest equipment and software.
Preferred Direct has cutting-edge digital printing technology. Our HP T240 HD and Xerox® Impika®, presses deliver optimal production speed and cost-effectiveness for continuous feed inkjet printing. We specialize in accurate, high-speed lasering and ink-jetting, with the flexibility to communicate custom, personalized messages, thanks to our state-of-the-art equipment, software applications, and skilled team. This is Why Direct Mail Is Still Effective.
Services beyond printing
In addition to mailing database management, customization, and printing of your direct mail, we also:
● Match mail
● Postal discounts
● Deliver mailings to the post office
● Manage inventory
We also offer expert design services to give your direct mail the visual appeal needed to attract your recipients’ attention and engage their interest.
Learn More About How Direct Mail and Variable Data Printing Can Benefit Your Company
Why Direct Mail Is Still Relevant? In summary, direct mail—particularly, personalized direct mail—remains an essential tool for building customer loyalty and improving bottom-line results. Keep in mind that working with variable data requires making privacy and data security a priority. Therefore, it’s critical to work with a commercial printing company you can trust to uphold the highest standards of quality and protect customer data. Fortunately, you don’t have to look further for a reliable partner for your personalized direct mail solutions. Preferred Direct has all of the experience and capabilities necessary to handle all of your direct mail and variable data printing needs. Contact us to discuss your next project!
Direct Mail Campaigns can be hit or miss for companies of every variety, and few things are more frustrating than a low ROI for each unit you send out.
You may not expect your direct mail to be kept in a keepsake box until the end of time, but it’s certainly not meant to catch a customer’s used chewing gum before they’ve even looked at it! The good news is that there are some simple strategies that can lead to higher response rates.
1. Capitalize on the Captive in Your Direct Mail Campaign
A direct mail piece isn’t as flashy as the bells and whistles of an internet advertisement, but this isn’t necessarily a disadvantage. Direct mail often comes across as more trustworthy to customers than digital ads, likely because it requires more effort to create and send.
You also have a captive audience in front of your piece, one that won’t be distracted by the next email or pop-up ad. You’re giving your customers a reason to slow down and concentrate, and they will take the opportunity to do this if the mail is presented in the correct way.
Now is the time to breakdown the message you’re sending customers. For example, if you’re sending direct mail that’s more involved, such as an Explanation of Benefits, you have a tremendous opportunity to draw the reader in by using everyday language. When you make your materials reader-friendly, the reader has a better chance of understanding how you can help them.
Email is an exceptionally cost-effective way to reach your customers, but its ease and affordability have all added up to a lot of noise out there. When the average person gets 121 emails a day, you can’t rely on a clever subject line anymore. A regular mailbox was never meant to hold that kind of volume, which is why most people still like checking their mailbox to see what they got.
2. Segment Your Lists
Imagine you’ve been looking to take a college-level course in the film for fun. You don’t want to get a degree in film and pursue a life in Hollywood, but you do think it would be interesting to learn how people make captivating movies. If you received a piece of direct mail from an educational institution about how to take one-off classes to better oneself, you’re likely to sit up and take notice.
This kind of precise marketing or Target Marketing is possible when you segment your lists. While most companies separate customers based on demographics and location, you can take it one step further. The most successful businesses will collect and analyze information from a wide variety of sources. For example, they may have customers take an email survey about what exactly they’re looking for from their healthcare or financial planning. Or companies will set up loyalty programs, track customer behavior, and devise promotions that speak to customers on their level.
When you’re segmenting your lists, you can use variable data to improve the quality of your direct mail campaign. This tactic will change the wording and graphics of your direct mail piece without slowing the printing process down. The right print on demand company can not only handle the volume and specificity, but it can also get it done as quickly as possible.
No matter how segmented your lists get, reputable printers have the technology to handle the details. A segmentation strategy all but eliminates the need to come up with a clever slogan or to overspend on paper.
When it comes down to it, the essential element you’re trying to convey to your audience is that you’re a company that can be trusted. When you can speak directly to a customer on their level, you show you’ve done your homework.
3. In Your Direct Mail Campaign -Think Different
Each marketing channel your company uses needs to vary according to several factors while still maintaining cohesion. For example, you might use email as a way to notify patients of their upcoming appointments and direct mail to promote new services.
It’s the color, formatting, and wording that connect your brand to each medium, so the customer still walks away with the right impression of the company.
To do this in such a way that people listen, you may need to break the rules. The most commonly read type of direct mail is the oversized envelope, perhaps because it calls to the recipient to find out what’s inside. Postcards are also high on the list, likely because people can merely glance at the direct mail to understand the takeaway.
Other companies will create dimensional mail in the form of paper boxes, airplanes, etc. These unique pieces of mail catch the eye and win your customers over in spite of themselves. Even the most conservative companies can still be creative with their communications.
For those who want to send more conventional material, you might consider offering recipients an incentive that they won’t receive anywhere else. For example, inviting them to a private event or providing a special discount over direct mail. This can help generate the buzz you need to entice more people to open your communications.
Preferred Direct is a print on demand company that specializes in marketing and branding our clients to their customers. There are so many ways in which companies can take a wrong turn when it comes to direct mail campaigns. Segmentation can undoubtedly come across as helpful, but it may also come across as invasive.
Creativity is certainly recommended, but you don’t want to spend big for folding paper airplanes unless it’s worth the returns.
We’re here to help you find a strategy that works, regardless of your budget, deadlines, or customer volume.
We use inventory control to reduce waste while still leaving enough flexibility in case your plans change. We take advantage of automated solutions that will save you time and money, yet again, provide personal customer service and tailor-made advice.
When it comes to direct mail, you need a printing company that looks out for your brand. We also know our way around compliance laws and ensure that each piece of mail meets all HIPAA and HITRUST restrictions. If you’re looking for a company that can handle some heavy demands and saves you money on the postage, we’ve got you covered.
Health insurance companies provide EOB’s or Explanation of Benefits statements after individuals receive their health care services. Given that individuals’ health information is deemed sensitive and protected under HIPAA, it’s crucial to understand EOB requirements.
The EOB Statement
To have a better understanding of “Do you know your EOBs?” it is important to note that at first glance, an Explanation of Benefits statement closely resembles a medical bill. The EOB usually says at the top “This is Not a Bill”; however, it may look like the recipient owes money.
EOB forms give details about a specific medical insurance claim that was processed by the insurer. It explains how much of the insurance claim was paid by the insurance company and how much is outstanding, based upon the costs of the care provided and the individual’s health insurance plan.
To illustrate with an example, consider an allergy screening. The allergist charges a set fee for service, and a health insurer pays a certain amount of that, which is dictated by the individual policy, deductible amounts, and other variables. Individuals usually pay a co-pay at the time of appointment but may owe more money later once the insurer processes the claim if there’s a difference in the service cost and what the insurer will cover.
In addition to details about the specific procedure, the Explanation of Benefits forms usually contains policy-specific information, which adds context. After summarizing the recent claim, the EOB form will usually summarize the deductibles and any other out-of-pocket claims for the year.
This way, the insured can better understand what they owe by reviewing how much of their deductible they’ve already paid. While EOBs explain medical billing information to the insured, they can be challenging to understand, and errors can happen. Many patients need to call their insurer to ask targeted questions, so they can better understand both the EOB form and any subsequent medical bills that arrive.
EOBs generally come after any medical or dental service is provided. Dental EOBs are similar to medical EOBs in form and function and have the same requirements. However, since dental insurance is limited in its coverage, patients who need extensive dental procedures may owe far more than they would for medical care.
While some patients choose to view their EOB form online, many patients are reluctant to view sensitive information online and would prefer to receive a hard copy by mail.
Our Statement Generation or print on demand services make it simple to create and mail personalized EOB statements to users as the need arises. HIPAA’s privacy rule affects statement generation and EOB mailing requirements. HIPAA mandates that an individual’s health conditions, demographic information, services received, and payment for services be kept confidential.
Thus, any medical information, including adolescent children, that mentions the past, present, or future health care information (including fees for services rendered) must respect the privacy rule regardless of how the data is transmitted (via direct mail or electronically).
Given that your medical organization must comply with HIPAA, any direct mail or electronic service you work with must have a thorough understanding of HIPAA and its privacy laws, and be able to send out confidential medical information in an appropriate manner. Knowing your EOBs is important. Preferred Direct complies with all HIPPA requirements.
An insurer cannot be held liable if a patient’s confidential information is disclosed when all proper measures are taken. However, if an insurer does not take proper steps to preserve the integrity of private information, and they are found to be negligent, they will face fines that range from $100 to $50,000 for every violation.
Digital communication companies, like Preferred Direct, provide insurers with a range of medical statements, including EOBs, medical bills, plan benefits, and other healthcare forms, electronically or hard copies. While healthcare marketing materials may not have any private patient information, thus be exempt from HIPAA. An individual’s sensitive medical forms must have their confidentiality protected.
How to Send EOB Statements
Preferred Direct is a knowledgeable partner for insurers who want to outsource their billing to a third party who can provide fast, accurate, and confidential statement generation or electronic communication services. Since digital communication companies specialize in printing and sending campaigns, hard copies, or electronically, they can do it efficiently.
Outsourcing this service also saves time while allowing employees to focus on mission-critical tasks. Patients enjoy receiving accurate materials promptly. Preferred Direct’s communication services generally accept health data in a variety of formats, including .csv, .xls, or .txt. Digital communication companies using the supplied data will generate an accurate Explanation of Benefits statement.
Preferred Direct also offers e-billing services, in which medical bills and EOB statements can be generated and electronically transmitted to patient online portals or emailed, streamlining the EOB mail process for insurers.
Since forms must be addressed to individual patients, look for a direct mail shop that offers variable data printing, in which patients’ names and other unique data can be included in the mailings for customized, meaningful communication.
To ensure security and confidentiality protection, insist upon a direct mail provider that has a HITRUST and HIPPA certification, which is the most common security framework for healthcare data in the U.S.
Preferred Direct, has HITRUST certification and keeps up to date with all HIPAA requirements so that we can serve our insurance industry customers.
Not only are we attentive to the healthcare industry requirements, but we also offer highly efficient direct mail services. Since we use match mailing and postage automation services, we can efficiently process and send an Explanation of Benefits statements to their members while saving the customer money.
We create and maintain customized printing products for our customers, and we update our in-house stock with measures for inventory control. This way, we’re always ready for your next mailing. Whether you’re looking to outsource all of your medical statements or only need help with EOB mailing, we can take care of everything quickly and accurately.
When you are dealing with EOB statements you must be certain that all HIPPA rules are met. Be especially careful with any and all information relative to the person, and that information should be treated with the utmost confidentiality.
There are savings to be had by outsourcing the EOB statements to a competent print and mail production house.
The top 5 advantages of Outsourcing Medical Billing are shown below.
If you don’t send patients their bills in a timely manner, your account receivables will suffer and your collection rates will be very low. It may be time to outsource your medical billing.
Should medical billing be done in-house or outsourced to a direct billing company? There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
The Top 5 Advantages of Outsourcing Medical Billing
Outsourcing medical billing comes with many advantages. Medical organizations and businesses need cost-effective and efficient ways to collect their hard-earned revenue. Businesses can either outsource medical billing or hire qualified employees to do it in-house.
Here are the top five advantages of outsourcing medical billing:
1. Outsourcing Medical Billing Can Save a Company Money.
When medical billing is outsourced, a company saves money on monthly salaries and benefits for those who would do in-house billing. Flat rates charged by billing companies are generally less than what it would cost to staff an employee to do the same job. Companies who outsource also do not have to purchase or maintain medical billing software and computer equipment.
2. Outsourcing Medical Billing Helps a Company Collect More Money and Improves Cash Flow.
Medical billing can be slowed and lost in the shuffle of running a business, but billing companies keep billing moving in an efficient way to get money to the medical organization faster. Ultimately, the timely submission of bills increases the influx of cash.
3. Billing Professionals Are Less Likely to Make Errors.
Because billing companies have the sole purpose of getting billing correct, they are less likely to make errors. Billing companies are equipped with the knowledge and equipment to ensure that claims and bills are submitted in a thorough, speedy process. This reduces the amount of denied or rejected claims.
4. Companies/Organizations Can Focus More on Their Patients Leading to Higher Customer Satisfaction.
Especially for small medical businesses who cannot hire people to specifically do billing, using front office staff to split their time and efforts between medical billing and other duties can detract from other areas of their job. Outsourcing medical billing improves the office staff’s productivity and can ultimately lead to better customer satisfaction.
5. Adding Advertising Messages to Your Bills Can Encourage Patients to Return and Increase Revenue.
When advertising messages are added to bills, using variable data, it is called transpromo marketing. Transpromo marketing is effective because unlike junk mail, people open bills and read them. Medical businesses and organizations can advertise events, vaccines, reminders for preventative treatments or any other relevant messages on bills. Is it flu season? A practice may want to promote coming in for flu shots. Is there a health fair? Advertising on a bill is a good way to get existing customers to be in the knowhow and return to the business.
Whether a company should outsource medical billing or not depends on multiple factors. Businesses should look at the number of employees, finances, the age of the business and the local labor market. Outsourcing medical billing can save medical businesses and organizations time and money, giving the organization the ability to focus on primary tasks.
Preferred Direct provides direct billing including medical billing services. At Preferred Direct, a project manager works with you to guarantee fast, efficient, accurate and confidential processing of information for direct billing. From medical billing services, statement generation, e-billing and transpromo marketing, a company’s direct billing is completed in a timely and professional manner.
Call Preferred Direct toll-free today. 1-844-719-1848
Preferred Direct provides high-quality, high-quantity, fast and personalized direct marketing services including: printing services, fulfillment services, fundraising services, direct mail marketing, direct billing and emergency on demand printing services. From design to finishing and mailing, Preferred Direct takes care to make sure they deliver high-quality products that can help increase your company’s ROI.
Call or click for a quote. (757) 461-2730 or Toll-Free 1-844-719-1848
Sources: medicaloffice.about.com, poweryourpractice.com, itservicereviews.com
Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net by PANPOTE (bill with glasses) and Stuart Miles (cash flow)