Achieving maximum paper truncation / suppressionPublished on 31 May 2005
eBilling strategies to ensure maximum paper turn-off
In this week’s Newsflash we cover permission based ‘opt-in’ versus ‘opt-out’ strategies, focusing primarily on paper truncation or suppression methodologies and biller experiences across some of our geographies and industry sectors.
Achieving maximum paper truncation / suppression:
One of the key objectives of any electronic billing project is to maximize the paper suppression. The other often spoken about objectives include improved ‘Days Sales Outstanding’, less customer billing enquiries and generally improved levels of customer service.
There are three options when it comes to deciding on your strategy for eBilling adoption & paper turn-off.
- The customer ‘opts-in’ (chooses) to receive an email bill and ‘opts-in’ / chooses NOT to receive a paper bill. This is known as ‘opt-in, opt-in‘.
- The biller chooses to send the customer an email bill. Should the customer not want it, they need to unsubscribe (opt-out). The customer needs to ‘opt-in’ / choose NOT to receive a paper bill. This is know as ‘opt-out, opt-in‘.
- The biller chooses to send the customer an email bill. Should the customer not want it, they need to unsubscribe (opt-out). The biller also chooses to stop sending the paper bill once confirmation that the customer has opened the email bill they have received. The customer needs to ‘opt-out’ of paperless billing. I.E.: tell the biller that he still wants to receive a paper bill. This is known as ‘opt-out, opt-out‘.
Our experience around the world has shown us that there are significant differences in paper suppression adoption percentages across these three strategies, and absolutely NO difference in customer satisfaction levels.
The following percentages are indicative of the paper truncation that you can expect. (These are percentages of a biller’s total customer base, over 24 months):
- ‘opt-in, opt-in’ – 8% to 12%
- ‘opt-out, opt-in’ – 10% to 20%
- ‘opt-out, opt-out’ – 25% to 45%
Billers would thus be well advised to go with an ‘opt-out’, ‘opt-out’ strategy.
Many billers though, have chosen a combination of the above approaches, depending on the customer segment being targeted.
Here are some examples:
- A telecommunications biller (landline) decides to target all NEW customers. The majority of this biller’s customers sign up for service by calling in. When customers call in to activate the service, one of the pieces of information captured by the contact center representative is the customer’s email address. An email is automatically generated to the customer welcoming them and informing them about the email billing program. The biller then has two options:
- Send the customer an email bill and stop sending paper bills upon notification that the email bill has been opened. In most cases like this, the customer will thus NEVER receive a paper bill. (‘opt-out’)
- In the welcome email, the biller gives the customer the option to stop receiving paper bills by means of ‘choice’ buttons embedded within the email. (‘opt-in’)
- An electric & gas utility biller decides to target its EXISTING customer base. (The biller has been aggressively gathering its customer’s email addresses over time.) The biller then decides to split the customers whose email addresses they have into two groups:
- The biller sends out an introductory email letting the customer know that they will be receiving an email bill and that their paper bills will stop being sent upon confirmation that they have opened the email bill. The customer is given the choice (within that email, and every email bill) to choose to receive a paper bill. (‘opt-out, ‘opt-out’)
- The biller sends out an introductory email to the customer offering the choice of an email bill. This is done through embedded (YES/NO) buttons within this introductory email bill. The customer is also advised that should they choose the email bill, then they will NO longer receive a paper bill upon confirmation that the email bill has been opened. (‘opt-in’, ‘opt-out’)
Striata’s recommendation: Choose a meaningful group of your total customer base (10% to 15%), divide them into three groups and pilot the above three approaches.
Just over half way through the pilot period (4-6 months), survey each group to determine which strategy has achieved significant paper suppression and improved customer service metrics.
Our experience has shown us repeatedly that an ‘opt-out, opt-out’ strategy (with paper suppression once the biller has confirmation that the customer has opened the eBill), is the best path forward.
Wishing you a wonderful summer and safe travels if you are taking a well-earned vacation.