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eBill penetration - gaining significant customer adoption

Published on 30 Nov 2004
eBill Penetration

Seasons Greetings & Happy Holidays

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“eBill penetration – gaining significant customer adoption”

Billers who are responsible for or involved with running an eBill program are faced with the challenges of customer adoption.

“Electronic Bill Presentment & Payment” (EBPP) has been around for many years now, yet adoption rates continue to fall dismally short of expectations.

In the Utility industry for example, 7% or 8% is considered ‘high’ adoption. Most utility billers are experiencing adoption rates of 2% to 4%. Yet all indications are that Internet usage has exceeded 70% of Americans. So why the disparity? What is it going to take to get the majority of customers to have a electronic billing relationship with you?

Some factors which inhibit eBill penetration include:

  • Just under 60% of Americans are still dialing up to the internet at speed of 56bps or less. (This figure is much higher in less urban areas.) To register and use a secure EBPP website at modem speed is just not feasible.
  • Marketers are having difficulty effectively communicating the benefits to the consumer.
  • Email continues to be the communication medium of choice, yet most billers only offer internet website presentment.
  • Enticing the customer to go online & register is expensive and generally yields poor results. Ask your customers to do anything and you can rest assured that 90% of them will not.
  • Customers continually forget their usernames & passwords, resulting in expensive phone calls to your customer service center.
  • It takes between 7 and 24 clicks for a customer to find and pay their built. That is just far to many. Secure Email EBPP can be as few as 2 clicks, one to view and one to pay.
  • Security fears such as Phishing are still hindering online payment.

Whilst Striata is relatively new to the US market, we do bring with us many years of experience from abroad. Here are some of the lessons that we have learned from our many customers in the Financial Services, Telco and Utility industries:

  • Sign up all new customers for your eBill program. Do it automatically and with no action required from the customer.
  • Initiate an automated welcome email telling the customer what to expect.
  • Then just begin delivering the bill electronically. A small percentage will opt-out, but the vast majority will accept it. Adoption therefore becomes equal to the number of email addresses you have. (Note – well over 70% of Americans are now using email regularly.)
  • Offer simple bill presentment securely via email as the first step. (With links to online payment & self service if required.) It’s not necessary to try and ‘pull’ the customer to your website to achieve successful eBill presentment.
  • Take it one step at a time. Achieve bill presentment and paper truncation first. Then drive payment as the next step. It could be too much to try and do both at once.
  • Replicate your paper bill into a digital format – familiarity drives acceptance. You can always add additional functionality later.
  • Replace customer choice username & passwords with a ‘shared secret’ between the biller & the customer. (For example: Social Security Number, Account number, pin code.)
  • Use Opt-out rather than opt-in strategies. Customers expect you to bill them, an eBill is not a pure marketing communication but can form part of a marketing strategy.
  • Automatic paper truncation with the ability to revert to the paper option. When your customers are familiar with the eBill, turn off the paper automatically – you will be surprised how few requests you will get to reinstitute their paper bill.
  • Sell the eBill concept to everybody who calls your customer service centre. Sign them up ‘there and then’ during the call.

In order to drive significant eBill adoption you need to actively strive to make it as easy as possible for your customer to receive and pay their bill electronically. By dramatically reducing what the customer has to ‘do’, your eBill adoption will soar.

New product announcement: ”Striata Survey+“

Striata has recently brought its email survey product offering to the American market. This efficient tool allows marketers to send a survey embedded within the body of an email, or as an HTML attachment. The recipient can complete and submit their responses without having to register, click through to a website or complete any kind of login. Outgoing emails can be digitally signed to authenticate the sender.

All responses are automatically recorded in a database, and made available to the marketer in various formats. Striata customers worldwide often incentivise survey completion using a combination of meaningful competitions and viral opportunities. It is a cost effective & quick way to snap survey your customers on any topic.

Send us an email to usa@striata.com and we’ll send you more information about Striata Survey+. Survey+ is part of the Striata eMarketing Suite.

Wishing you Happy Holidays! May the festive season be full of warmth and happiness for you and your family.