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How to “surprise and delight” when your customers want more than just eBilling...

Customers want more out of eBilling

From discussions with my international colleagues, it’s clear that the market here is quite different from the rest of the world. In countries like the US and UK – eBilling portals were and are largely still the norm. To retrieve the bill, customers are encouraged to register and then log in each time a new bill is posted to the portal. After many years, this has led to stagnated adoption rates averaging a meager 10-15%. There are a number of reasons for this, many of which I covered in my previous blog posts

Asia likes email – but does it get the desired result?

In Asia, while it’s not unusual for utilities and other billers to set up a portal, it’s also more common for eBills to be emailed to customers as a simple PDF or HTML attachment. Now according to accepted wisdom, this should dramatically improve adoption figures? After all, that’s basically what we do here at Striata, and we have clients with over 50% paper turn-off. But it hasn’t been the case here. Adoption still seems to stagnate around 10%, particularly for utilities where conservative processes and a very stable customer base means that defaulting large numbers of new customers to eBilling is not an option.

Customers want payment functionality in their email bills

Payment is catching on and utilities and other billers are taking a new tack here in Asia. Over the past few months, a number of Requests for Proposal have crossed my desk, and a common requirement has been payment functionality or some other value-added service. This change has been driven by a number of factors:

  • In some territories, cash payment at the utility office is still prevalent and causes all sorts of queuing problems each month on the bill-due date.
  • Elsewhere, payments through banks or convenience stores are at such high levels that customers are being charged in some cases over US$1 for the privilege of using the counters to pay their bills. Not a great experience for the customer!
  • For some billers and banks, basic PDF eBills or eStatements have taken them as far as they can go, and to encourage higher adoption, they are adding features that are compelling to their customers – payment forms, graphs and other interactive features.

All these companies have realized that eBilling without any added convenience is of such little appeal to customers that adoption will always be low. It’s the convenience factor, the bells and whistles that make all the difference.

Want to drive adoption? Then “surprise & delight” your eBilling customers

In the car industry it’s called “surprise and delight” when a potential customer sits in a car and the courtesy light fades gently, or there’s selectable “mood” lighting, or the steering wheel is leather. It’s what creates desire and what makes brands like Mini outsell Citroen even though you pay more for less in many cases.

In eBilling, it’s being able to pay your bill without having to go to the post office or Internet Banking, to update your details from within the eBill or set an email or text (SMS) payment reminder. Things that your customers never expected to be able to do from within their eBills!

And it’s the difference between truly successful eBilling with high paper-turn-off rates, and slow adoption, minimal paper turn-off and minimal savings.

Is your eBilling adoption is stalling? Talk to us about how you too can “surprise and delight” your customers.

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Keith Russell

Keith Russell

Director at Striata, Asia Pacific

Keith Russell is the Director of Striata Asia-Pacific. Keith has over 20 years experience in the IT industry, moving from software development and analysis roles into Sales and Account Management.

Keith started his career with British Gas and worked for 8 years in the Billing and Systems departments in Edinburgh and London. Keith moved to Hong Kong in 1995, where he worked for a further 8 years in business development in the Telecoms billing field for KSCL and Convergys.

Prior to joining Striata in 2008, Keith was Asian Business Development Manager for Mobiqa, a mobile-phone ticketing company, and Director of Red Bridge Consulting, an international business development consultancy based in Hong Kong.

Keith has an Honours Degree in Physics from Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, and is a member of Mensa.

Read more of Keith's blog posts here or connect with him on the following social channels: