Just Released: Section Reporting Question Nixed if it Doesn’t Apply

Opening and closing question marksHow can we make the lives of utility billing clerks a little easier? This is the question that runs through our minds on the daily. Sometimes, it’s not about making something new, but rather, making something that already exists work a little better. This was the case with one little section reporting question in our Utility Billing program…

Since the beginning of time (okay, really just since Version 2.0130 in the late 1990’s), BMS Utility Billing software has had a screen that requires clerks to answer yes or no (“Would you like to select a section?”) before proceeding with their report run. For our clients who conduct section or cycle billing (i.e., larger entities that don’t bill all of their clients at one time), this wonderful option allows organizations to bill and report portions at a time, in sections or cycles; however, for the remainder of our clients the question has tended to be confusing and maybe even a little frustrating.

Flash forward to Sept 2014: A team of Black Mountain Software employees (Stacy, Mark, and Tim) worked together to solve this issue for non-section billing customers. This was not a case of something being “broken”, but BMS understands that customer service is very often not about fixing something that is broken. As in this case, customer service is often about listening to our customers and making improvements to help and please them.

Beginning September 15, 2014 (version 2.0130), our Utility Billing software no longer asks you to choose whether or not you want to select a section if you DON’T HAVE section or cycle billing. Only clients who have sections/cycles will be asked that question from now on. It’s intrinsically smarter, it’s faster, and it’s annoyance-free!

They say that hindsight is 20/20, and that applies to software development. Through the years, Stacy wished he could easily go back and change how the section question was built into the software. It turns out there was another way to ‘listen for content’ within window messages which allowed the programming change to be made. However, the new method was not discovered until customer feedback, product team input, and Engineering skills were brought together to prioritize the issue and focus on achieving the improvement.

It’s a small thing, but the Utility Billing staff thinks our customers will love it. Said BMS Utility Billing Manager Julia Caro, “It is very cool if you do bill in sections (cycles) that you have full reporting capabilities. It’s actually a fantastic feature of our current software. The fact that the software program will now be able to look at a setting and automatically ignore section prompts if appropriate is also fantastic though, since most of our customers do not bill in sections.”

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