Today, the Internet and email -- along with smart phones, tablet computers, and a variety of other communications technologies -- are a part of our daily lives and a key part of our business processes. Technology has completely changed our relationship with time, which, in turn, changes our business processes by creating new customer expectations, including added value services such as EBPP, electronic bill presentment and payment, delivered to mobile devices as well as to computers.
The EBPP Alternative
In addition to the public embrace of new technologies, rising postal rates in this tough economy along with USPS requirements that keep changing and growing in complexity, provide two more reasons that businesses are finding EBPP more and more attractive. Add to this the likelihood that six-day mail delivery will soon give way to a five-day plan, and it is certain some post offices and postal facilities will close -- in fact, some already have.
The bottom line is that going forward everyone is going to need some form of EBPP solutions. The positive side of this is that EBPP can lower costs for the biller while giving customers a choice in the way they receive and pay their bills. NACHA, the organization that promotes and tracks EBPP, reported in a recent study that over the last two years; EBPP has seen a growth rate of 32% across all industries, with a 40% increase in its adoption by municipal utilities. More than half of all the utility companies surveyed saw EBPP as a significant opportunity for their organizations. Admittedly, EBPP adoption rates have been slower than expected over the last 10 years, but migration to EBPP is steadily advancing.
For utilities that send out thousands or even millions of monthly invoices, EBPP can dramatically reduce administrative and materials costs, even if only a portion of their customers migrate to EBPP. Obviously, electronic delivery and processing eliminates printing and postage costs, but there are even more benefits:
With the uncertain and challenging cost of energy supplies, even though most utilities regard an EBPP system as a desirable option, they may also see it as requiring an additional capital investment in hardware, software, and expert personnel. However, just as many energy providers outsource their paper-based invoicing functions, EBPP can be supported by third-party service providers. In seeking a partner that's a good fit for your company, it's critical to determine if the provider has the resources and staffing required to manage your work load. Key questions to ask include:
As we move further into the 21st Century, the use of electronic, multichannel communication technologies has become less an option than it is a commonplace necessity. As one element of this high-tech environment, EBPP can bring your company positive results in terms of lowering the costs associated with paper-based invoicing and mailing while strengthening customer relationships, improving your public profile, and speeding payment processing.
In times that are particularly challenging for energy providers, promoting a sense that you know and understand your customers and are working to meet their expectations may be the most beneficial thing you can do. EBPP can help this effort by giving even the largest company a direct link to each customer and, through regular monthly invoicing, an opportunity to establish personalized one-to-one communications to secure their loyalty and support.