Adoption of the automated bill enquiry and bill payment system by customers of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company in Kisumu
The importance of adoption of any automated services should not just be looked at how it leads to improvement in service delivery but also how quickly it is accepted by customers. KPLC in December of the year 2008 introduced the E billing and payment system to reduce the workload and the long queues in the KPLC banking halls. The services that were introduced were: Easypay through ATM, post office, bank tellers or mobile phones and E-bill email or SMS Balance enquiry. The researcher however noticed that despite these innovations, the KPLC banking halls continued to be congested with customers seeking to pay their bills at the offices. Research on the actual adoption of the services by the customers remains inconclusive. This inspired the purpose of this research, which was to establish the adoption of the automated E billing and payment among the KPLC customers. The study had two objectives namely to determine: the extent of adoption of automated billing system among KPLC customers and the factors that affect KPLC customers’ adopting the automated billing system. The study adopted a descriptive study design to investigate these objectives. From the literature reviewed on past studies on automation and adoption of innovations, the researcher conceptualized that the adoption of the automated billing system by KPLC customers would be influenced by awareness, perceived ease of use, previous experience, perceived behavioral control, attitude, subjective norms and perceived usefulness. By use of Random Stratified Sampling, the study was carried out on a sample of domestic and small commercial customers within Kisumu. The study found that 43.49% had adopted easy pay through ATMs, 55.96% KPLC customers had adopted easy pay through post office, 40.17% KPLC customers had adopted easy pay through bank teller, 43.21% of the customers had not adopted easy pay through mobile phones, 45.71% of all the customers of KPLC in Kisumu had not adopted Email bill enquiry and 32.47% commercial consumers had adopted the SMS bill enquiry. The study further established that the highest level of adoption of the E billing and payment system was by customers of the age group 41 – 50 years whereas the lowest level of adoption was by customers over 60 years. The second lowest level of adoption was by customers of 20 – 30 years. One of the reasons given as hindering adoption was the time taken between the payments at the e-bill outlets and the time taken for the payment to reflect in the account, which is approximately two days. The study therefore recommended that the management of KPLC should ensure that the E billing and payment system is properly synchronized so that paid bills are immediately reflected in the system. This will see to it that bills paid on the due date reflect the payments and are not wrongly disconnected. The study also recommended that KPLC should offer incentives for adoption of the E billing and payment systems so as to encourage customers to adopt the system. Such incentives can be in the form of earning points for promotions, discounts on the bills or allocation of free power units for customers who consistently use the E billing and payment systems. The research limitation was with respect to administration and collection of the questionnaires. Some of the respondents were unable to fill in the questionnaire in time thus prompting more visits. The study suggests that the same study needs to be conducted in future to assess whether there is improvement in the adoption of the E billing and payment systems among the KPLC customers in Kisumu County. The study also suggests that a similar study needs to be conducted involving other counties. This will be important in having a more inclusive study and also to know whether there are differences in customer preferences and factors influencing adoption of the E billing and payment systems in the different environments.