Why utilities need to get online bill delivery right
- Jul 1, 2015 9:30 pm GMT
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Utility companies, like many others, face challenges when it comes to digital billing. Utilities have had tremendous success in processing electronic payments from consumers and in some cases, electronic payments average more than 70% of all payments made to utilities. However, the industry has been challenged with a much lower rate of customers receiving and engaging with digital bill delivery, averaging between 12% to 30% paperless adoption rates, based on various initiatives.
With scores of customers receiving bills both online and in the mail, redundancy (and extra costs for the business) runs rampant. As younger generations make the move into their own homes, paying bills online and on mobile devices will be the default behavior for them. Consolidation of activity in a place they already use is a key theme, evidenced greatly by the proliferation and integration of social media into a young person’s everyday life. Where individuals used to communicate one-to-one via calls and letters, they can now reach their entire social ecosystem by publishing one tweet or Facebook post. Trust and convenience play important roles in digital adoption. It only makes sense for the utility industry to make strides in moving towards an efficient digital bill delivery process by taking advantage of a consumer’s existing digital relationships in order to increase digital adoption, especially when that digital relationship encourages and enables fast payment. That’s what makes partnering with online banking sites a perfect choice for utilities looking to further increase their online bill pay adoption rates and to reduce paper bills.
By enhancing existing eBilling capabilities, in addition to getting paid faster, utilities will also benefit by saving money on postage, paper and printing by going paperless. Providing more bills online frees call center resources at utility companies for actual energy service problems rather than bookkeeping issues.
A recent report by Javelin showed that customers increasingly want to pay and view their bills at their primary financial institutions. The report found that while viewing bills at biller websites is expected to remain flat through 2019, 57 percent of customers will view bills at their primary financial institution. Why? It is the convenience of seeing multiple bills together, in conjunction with the bank accounts and personal finance features that many Americans use to pay those bills.
New technology partners can help utilities:
- Convert “double dippers” into satisfied digitally engaged customers by providing convenient online bill pay
- Reach consumers through valuable relationships with banks, savings and loans, and credit union organizations
- Achieve savings for your company on production, postage and payment processing fees
- Deliver a PDF document to the payer – just like what is delivered by postal mail – with line-item detail and your marketing messages
- Receive electronic payments with no processing fees from bank bill pay channels
The best organizations are creating consistent, memorable and easy-to-use digital experiences for their customers. By working together with banks to provide easy, centralized ways to pay bills, utilities win.
Chuck Cordray is CEO of Inlet, responsible for leading and growing the company's innovative product offerings to drive paperless adoption by businesses and consumers. Previously, Chuck was President of Digital Mailing Solutions at Pitney Bowes where he spearheaded the strategy and business model development behind Inlet. He joined Pitney Bowes in 2011 from the Hearst Corporation, where he served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Hearst Magazines Digital Media. Chuck received his bachelor's degree from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford University.