Striata Encryption Options for Email BillingPublished on 15 Dec 2005
Achieving Maximum eBilling Paper Turn-off
In previous newsletters we have discussed the various opt-in / opt-out strategies regarding the turning off of paper for customers who are receiving a secure eBill.
In today’s Newsflash we detail a recommended path forward, to satisfy your regulator and provide maximum adoption in the most customer friendly way possible.
‘Paperless eBilling: A Recommended Path Forward’
The path to secure paperless email billing is made up of three fundamental steps: capturing your customer’s email address; sending your secure eBill & taking payment; and turning off the paper bill.
Here is a recommended approach to each step:
1. Getting Your Customer’s Email Addresses:
- Signing up for new service
- Change of address
- Every call into your contact centre
- Any outbound service call
- A simple two-field form on the home page of your website
This is the easiest part of the process as most billers today have already begun gathering email addresses for various reasons. It is certainly not necessary to incur any cost on this process, simply capture an email address at every customer touch point, such as:
Through these mechanisms alone you should be able to capture a minimum of 30% of your customer’s email addresses in less than a year.
As soon as an email is captured, a welcome email is immediately and automatically sent to the customer. This email introduces the secure eBilling service, tells the customer when they can expect their first email bill and details all the advantages of this convenient service. (It also serves to validate that the email is accurate.)
2. Electronic Bill Presentment & Payment:
- ‘Striata BillPay‘: check payment directly from within the email bill (one click to pay, no registration required). The payment information entered can be stored and pre-populated for further payment convenience with the next bill. (Note: payment information is hashed out ‘###-####-413’ for added security.)
- Pay-by-phone: include your pay-by-phone number alongside the amount due.
- Online Payment: a link to the location on your website where payment can be made. (This option is not ideal as it generally requires the customer to register and thus completely defeats the objective of ’email DELIVERY’ of the bill.)
Now that you have the customer’s email address, have confirmed that it is correct, and have introduced the concept, you can begin to send your secure eBill. The email bill should match your paper bill identically, including any bill stuffers – this familiarity is imperative for paper turn off. The email bill can include multiple payment options:
Note: Due to the push nature of the secure eBill, all aspects of this communication are personalizable, including the subject line, greeting, email body, bill content and related marketing material. This creates a very powerful and ultra cost effective marketing tool.
3. Paper Suppression:
- Opt-in: Ask the customer if you can turn off their paper. This can be done in the body of the email bill or in a separate email. A button is embedded in the email so that turning off the paper bill is just one easy click. (This can also be incentivized through discounting, sweepstakes or a ‘save a tree’ campaign.) For this option you can expect a paper turn off rate of 5% to 15%.
- Opt-out: Turn off the paper bill automatically after a certain period of time and give the customer the option to turn it back on should they so choose. Our experience has shown that at most 10% of customer will opt to turn their paper bill back on, giving you an effective paper turn off rate of over 90%. (A recent Striata North American Gas & Electric Utility pilot resulted in paper suppression of 90.6%.)
Once you have auditable confirmation that the email bill / invoice is being opened and used, you have two options:
It is important to note that when surveyed, customer acceptance of the two options above were identical, the difference for you the biller is however massive.
Each industry, and in many cases in each State here in the USA, may have differing ebilling regulatory requirements. In almost all cases, the concept of secure eBill ‘DELIVERY’ has not been presented to these bodies; and Internet Billing (PULL) regulations do not apply. Striata will gladly work with you to gain regulatory approval if it is required.
The team here at Striata North America would like to wish you and your family a wonderful, warm and happy festive season.
You can expect our next Newsflash on January 10th. Happy New Year
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