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Originally Posted On: Why integrate a payment gateway into local government customer service? – District CMS
The online payments landscape has shifted.
A constant flow of new payment methods – often powered by mobile technology – have emerged. This means that most people now expect a simple, efficient and secure way to make their payments.
It’s not only customers that benefit from an effective, streamlined payment portal. The right solution can also help Government departments to:
- increase their customer service
- reduce administrative friction
- improve their revenue collection.
Additionally, council payment portals can help constituents to navigate services efficiently, assisting them when paying their rates. And by reducing overall admin overheads, councils can reallocate time and money to where they’re both actually needed.
It’s understandable for local governments to be hesitant about using alternative payment methods, but the right platform can facilitate an unmatched user experience.
Let’s look at the key ways in which streamlining local government online payment systems can help local communities and ratepayers.
Improving customer service standards
As technology changes, so do the expectations of the customers who use it. Unfortunately, when many people think about local government services, they imagine inflexible, antiquated systems that make everything difficult for them.
But a well-functioning online payments system offers constituents a cohesive way to pay their rates. Implementing it enables local governments to create an uncomplicated, effective payment solution that lets community members pay how they want, when they want.
Whether payments are one-off or recurring, a flexible, modern payment system is a great step towards helping those in your local community.
Meeting customer expectations
Payment behaviour and digital participation have evolved rapidly over the last ten years. Over that time, online payments have grown massively – Australians seem to love the flexibility and convenience of managing their payments via online channels.
Of course, with this abundance of new payment options also comes a higher risk of security breaches. And customers are rightfully concerned about how safe their details and monetary assets are.
Using a trusted, transparent system like District’s open-source multi-site CMS in conjunction with a payment system keeps local government customers within a single website. This reduces confusion and increases confidence for users who are unfamiliar with the system.
Reducing administrative costs
A streamlined payment process enables local governments to spend less time chasing debts. It also keeps all of their important transactional data in one secure place.
Automated revenue collection processes require less paperwork and double handling, while also making payment information simpler and clearer. Plus, maintaining vital information in one place offers councils a more accurate picture of the key verification fields.
As a result, councils can reduce costly, avoidable mistakes, which frees up time and budget for them to focus on the things that matter most.
Ultimately, alternative council payment gateways provide an organised, cost-effective way to receive and process payments accurately while requiring less staff interaction.
Making it easier to pay on time
We mentioned earlier that the number of Australians who use online payments is growing rapidly. For example, the Reserve Bank of Australia reported that in 2019, half of all households in Australia paid their bills automatically online. This figure more than doubled the number of households who reported the same thing in 2013.
Not surprisingly, as online payments have increased, cash-based, in-person transactions have steadily declined. Local government organisations that offer an online payment portal can make the payment process easier to navigate, increasing the likelihood of community members paying on time.
Minimising in-person transactions
As Australia transitions to post-COVID practices, commercial stores have had to find ways to keep consumers who want to pay in-store safe. Contactless digital payments at the point of sale have helped to reduce the number of cash exchanges.
But what about businesses and organisations like local governments who want to reduce the number of people on their premises altogether?
Offering user-friendly online payments can limit in-person transactions and provide residents with a safe, accessible and convenient payment solution. That’s often what ratepayers are looking for – and what they expect local governments to deliver.
Receiving payments faster
Payment structures within local government departments can make the process of paying bills complex and frustrating for consumers. And that frustration can slow down – or even stop – payments.
The time requirements of traditional payment methods can often work against government organisations. Additionally, payments can often take a significant amount of time to arrive and clear, restricting the organisation’s cash flow and access to funds.
On the other hand, efficient systems nurture trust. They create a process that makes constituents feel confident in setting up recurring payments via their preferred payment method. And when local community members can pay how they want, when they want, there’s less chance of the unnecessary admin that late payments create.
In short: the easier and more streamlined your payment process is, the faster your customers are likely to use it to pay you.
Meeting revenue targets
Having consumers pay their bills on time helps to ease administrative backlog and reduces the amount of missed revenue targets. Unfortunately, councils still lose valuable time to avoidable tasks like drafting and sending payment reminders. A fully integrated payment solution, supported by a secure platform like District CMS Multisite, can foster an efficient administration process that saves both time and money.
When it comes to building a trusted payments solution, an easily accessible and customisable online portal can help constituents to automatically make recurring payments. This encourages residents to set up direct payments for their bills and fees, without adding the stress of specifying when, who and how much they’re paying.
Reducing debtor days
Large debts can severely hinder a government agency’s ability to function. Unfortunately, key priorities can fall victim to an inefficient system and lack of best practices. As a consequence, avoidable admin now takes precedence while both councils and their constituents are pushed to the side – an undesirable outcome for all.
A fully integrated council payment gateway can handle all the transactions, balancing accounts on time to ensure that local governments can focus on what they’re meant to – better governance.
Providing a seamless experience
When it comes to the user experience, many difficulties can arise from trying to accommodate constituents’ diverse needs. Increasing each customer’s digital participation is a large undertaking. However, streamlining the payments process via a purpose-built multi-site CMS lets local councils monitor and adjust the user experience to make it as seamless as possible.
And as a bonus, a single on-site council payment portal creates greater trust between ratepayers and their local councils. This is because users no longer have to:
- leave the trusted site they’re on
- double up on login details
- worry about phishing or online scams
With a safe, secure online payment portal, local government services can provide a trustworthy, reliable tool for the public to securely transfer their funds. In short, it helps customers to feel confident that their money is going to the right place.
A safer way to control payments all from one place
Linking payment solutions to one space can be a challenging task, but it’s an essential one that shouldn’t be neglected.
If you’ve been thinking about migrating your online payments to a single portal, District CMS is an open-source, fully integrated solution that connects local government to its citizens.
Our multi-site CMS enables you to efficiently manage a large number of department websites from a single interface. But, most importantly, it offers a central hub that reduces agency overlap and streamlines the process of collecting and recording all incoming funds.
Dive in and learn how our suite of CMS tools can help you to improve your governance and make the shift to a secure council payment gateway.