10 Tips to Boost Online Bill Pay Adoption

10 Tips to Boost Online Bill Pay Adoption

Written By: Fauwaz Hussain

from October 27, 2015

So what can companies do to promote the acceptance of electronic bills and payments in lieu of paper billing? Clearly the benefits for businesses are considerable with regards to cost reduction, expedited funding, call center demands, environmental impact, and customer satisfaction. However, in order to effectively board online bill pay participants, companies must integrate payment strategies across departments and form a solid understanding of their particular customer segments, their pain points, and the experience they expect as a result of enrolling.

1. Effective communication strategies and marketing campaigns must be developed, creatively positioned, and consistently distributed in a manner that educates and promotes the business’ desired behavior. The new customer billing and payment experience must be optimized to accentuate speed, ease, convenience, and security. Ideally, the system should be flexible enough to allow multiple avenues of electronic payments while providing a solution for those who don’t want to log into a website every time they need to review a bill or submit payment.

2. Conventional techniques to promote adoption include recurring messages printed on bills, inserts, and envelopes, informational letters via direct mail, promotions on websites, social media, and through telemarketing, “on hold” messages, and email. Customer service representatives (CSRs) are often trained to optimize payment behavior at the time of service, while new customers can be prompted to receive electronic statements when opening an account.

3. Businesses should recognize customers are likely to pay their bill according to the manner in which they received it. Statements sent via mail tend to be paid via mail or pay station. Invoices distributed online are likely to be paid via credit card, debit card, or electronic check. While many companies accept electronic payments, real savings can be achieved through electronic billing, and hence, this should be the primary goal of long-term payment strategies.

4. Organizations need to consider offering incentives and discounts to foster enrollment in online bill pay. The incentives should be reasonable and properly aligned with the extra work that customers must do in order to change their routines and participate. Note that surcharges and additional fees are likely to thwart adoption. Hence, all strategic initiatives should be carefully positioned to drive customers to adopt the lowest cost payment options and methods available to the business (i.e. paperless statements and recurring ACH [electronic check] payments transfer).

5. Companies must focus heavily on perfecting their online bill pay experience in order for the adoption of electronic billing and payments to flourish. This begins with making sure registration (if required) is fast and easy. Electronic statements should look exactly like traditional paper bills that customers are used to. The option to stop paper bills (the key objective) should be very simple to initiate and always accessible, along with the ability to manage payment information, enable reminders and alerts, and review billing and payment history (customers will be less likely to require paper bills if they can always log on and review them). Customers should be allowed to choose from as many payment options as appropriate, including scheduled, one-time, in-advance, on-account, and automatic or recurring payments. In addition, businesses should be positioned to accept multiple payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards and ACH.

6. Billers often emphasize the added savings and 24/7 convenience that accompany the adoption of online bill pay. Customers can omit mailing and postage and rather receive email and SMS alerts to inform them when a new invoice is available to view and pay, when payment is due, and when payment information needs to be updated as well as other account activities. Some solutions offer the ability to issue a payment link via email or SMS, thus allowing customers to instantly view invoices and submit payment online – without registering for an account or logging into a website. These alternative solutions can be especially effective if conventional online bill pay site adoption rates are slow.

7. Increasingly popular “go green” initiatives have also been shown to promote enrollment in online bill pay. By providing creative incentives, such as planting a tree or donating to a beach or highway clean-up fund each time a customer signs up for online billing, organizations can gain social momentum and simultaneously promote enrollment – all while vividly exemplifying the cost savings associated with adoption.

8. Merchants can reduce PCI compliance challenges and educate customers on the reduction of risk that can be accomplished by enrolling in online bill pay. This technology delegates the entry of sensitive payment information to customers and can protect data through encryption and tokenization. Electronic statements and online payments can also help prevent sensitive information from being stolen from postal mailboxes – a very common tactic for thieves. In addition, paperless statements and electronic payments do not require document shredding services, thus saving businesses time and money.

9. Accounting teams looking to boost adoption rates should review customer records and payment data to identify accounts that prefer using recurring ACH transfers. This segment should be strategically targeted with campaigns that promote electronic billing. The combination of direct debit or recurring ACH – together with paperless billing – requires the smallest payment processing cost, and as such is an ideal scenario for online billing.

10. Customers with persistently late remittances should be strategically targeted with campaigns that offer email and SMS payment alerts, together with recurring ACH transfers. Since timely remittance is the pain point for this particular segment, providing simplified payment links that allow the customer to view and pay invoices instantly – without logging into a website or payment portal – is key. Accounts with records of bounced checks, similarly, should be directed to solutions that provide recurring payments via credit card.

The adoption of online billing can be sluggish, primarily due to its inherent obligation to change consumer behavior. In order for customers to participate in electronic bill presentment and payments, they usually must log onto a website, register for an account, confirm their email address, submit account and billing information, remember their user name and password, and often, decide whether or not to turn off paper statements. This shift in

the legacy model of paper billing and postal remittance must provide adequate value in the consumer’s mind in order for adoption to be fruitful.
By understanding the needs and pain points of different customer segments, companies can fine-tune their online experience, as well as develop strategic and tactical initiatives that not only help improve the relationship with the customer, but also help boost the adoption rates of online billing – clearly a win-win scenario.

For additional insight on how to boost adoption of online bill pay, please contact Nodus Technologies at 909-482-4701 or sales@nodus.com.