A Guide for Where to Put A Utility Bill Payment Kiosk
One of the top questions we get from our utility clients is about where they should place their kiosk bill payment machine. Whether you implement kiosks at a single location like a payment center, or a legion of kiosks across an entire state, kiosk machine locations will improve self-service access for your customers, mitigate cash-handling for cashiers, and streamline reconciliation for your entire utility — it’s a win-win-win!
Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your kiosk locations. And when in doubt, ask the payment kiosk experts: CityBase conducts site surveys and provides recommended locations for every kiosk implementation.
Cover Your Bases: Indoor & Outdoor Bill Pay Kiosks Support All Use Cases
A self-service bill payment kiosk should enhance customer service for everyone. If you have a large number of customers who pay in person at a certain location, we recommend installing both indoor and outdoor payment kiosks.
By providing multiple kiosk options for customers to pay in person, you can accommodate people paying from their vehicle at a drive-through kiosk, walk-up customers who need to pay after business hours, and those who want to avoid lines inside. With CityBase kiosks, the only site requirement is a power outlet and cellular service.
The City of Lawrence, Indiana, has both indoor and outdoor kiosk pay stations for customers to pay their municipal utility bills. Their outdoor drive-through payment kiosk lets customers pay from their cars, and their indoor kiosk handles all utility payment processing for walk-in customers.
Outdoor and through-wall kiosks can replace payment dropboxes that require manual processing and compromise customer information security. A 24/7 outdoor bill pay kiosk provides easy account lookup and real-time posting, helping customers to stay current on their bills and to avoid penalties and fees — even if they need to pay after hours.
The kiosks also help utilities reduce the burden on customer service representatives who often spend their time supporting confused customers who struggle when paying through third-parties.
Indoor kiosks should be placed in high-traffic areas where your customers are familiar with making payments. Signage can help promote new kiosks and their benefits.
Indoor kiosks provide a fast checkout experience for simple payments, with transaction times of under a minute on average for cash, check, and card payments. We recommend that utilities install these in high-traffic areas such as near windows for customer service representatives, across from information desks, and in lobbies.
Indoor payment kiosks can also be installed inside vestibules that provide 24/7 access. Clear signage can help direct your customers to new payment kiosks, and also explain the benefits to skipping the line to make a self-service payment.
Partner Up: Provide Kiosk Payment Solutions at High-Traffic Locations
The best places to install new payment kiosks are where your customers already are. If you have payment centers, kiosks should be installed in high-traffic areas where customers usually come to make payments or find more information about their account.
Municipal utilities often place their kiosks in public buildings around their city, and some partner with other government agencies to include multiple government and utility services on a single kiosk.
Municipal utility payment kiosk locations can include:
- City Hall
- Police stations
- Government department offices
- Service and community centers
- And more
Even investor-owned utilities, cooperatives, and other utility companies can share payment kiosk machines so that their shared customers can pay all utility bills in one place.
And don’t forget community partners. Kiosks can be installed in businesses across a region, such as grocery and convenience stores.
Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU), for instance, has a network of 13 payment kiosks located at popular grocery stores in their service area. These kiosk locations ensure TPU customers are at ease making a full or partial payment in a place they already frequent.
“If they’re at the grocery store and see our payment kiosk there, they’re comfortable paying by either cash or a credit/debit card,” said an assistant manager of customer services for TPU. “They’ll pay when they can, whatever they can.”
The City of Lynchburg, VA, has kiosks at their City Hall, in a public library, and also in a mall and cinema complex.
“It is our priority to improve access for customers who need to pay their bills in person, especially those who pay in cash,” said the Chief Financial Officer for Lynchburg. “We also take staff and customer safety extremely seriously and wanted to make it easier for them to do their jobs, receive services, and reduce unnecessary person-to-person contact during the pandemic.”
Crunch the Numbers: Where Are Your Customers?
When deciding how many kiosks your utility needs and where they should go, the most important consideration should be where your customers want and need to pay their bill. Take a look at your customer account data to decide where to prioritize kiosk installations.
What are the biggest population centers?
You’ll want to have more kiosks available in these areas to reduce lines and foot traffic inside buildings.
How far do customers need to travel to make a payment?
If you don’t have a payment center near large parts of your customer base, installing kiosks at a local business or community center would improve customer experience.
Which neighborhoods most frequently pay their bills in person, especially in cash?
When utilities don’t provide free and convenient ways for cash customers to pay their bill, they are often hit with predatory fees from third-parties. Self-service kiosks also let customers easily look up their current balance due — which eliminates the confusion they’d face by paying through a third party — and make a payment that immediately posts to their account, avoiding penalties or service interruptions.
Where are the most customers enrolled in payment plans, who need to make incremental payments throughout a billing cycle?
These customers benefit from conveniently located payment kiosks that don’t charge fees on top of a payment, and which provide extended business hours so customers can pay without taking time off work. Prioritize kiosks that provide 24/7 service in these areas.
If you have payment centers, are there certain locations that have lines out the door on bill due dates?
Installing multiple kiosks at these locations will ensure customers can pay and go without the wait.
Being thoughtful about kiosk machine locations will improve customer satisfaction, streamline revenue collection and avoid service interruptions, and take some of the burden off your customer service representatives. Like we said: a win-win-win!