01 October 2014

Sarah Appleby

Sarah Appleby - Striata- Financial Services Technology

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Paperless and simplified-simple for whom?

03 December 2012  |  3781 views  |  4

Ask yourself this question:

When it comes to simplification, who am I considering?

  1. The business
  2. The customer’s life
  3. Both?

The success of your paperless campaign will be measured by your answer. No need to be cryptic here. The most triumphant campaigns producing the fastest return on investment will simplify both your customer’s life and your own business processes.

The buzz word is 'simplification', what are you doing to achieve it? The mission statements and images of banks vary from black to white and every shade of grey. But the answer to the question of how to reduce paper and simplify the process ALWAYS, without fail, comes back to online banking, the portal and online, secure inboxes. Understandably so, financial institutions have invested buckets of time and money in this direction with the aim to maximise investment.

However the fact remains that a portal’s ability to convert people to paperless has already been tested for several years. I have yet to meet a financial institution that hasn’t attempted this process for at least a few years. And although there is a degree of success in migrating technophiles to online, the numbers seem to stagnate at around 20%.

The proof is in the pudding. Something isn’t working here.

Does a paradigm shift sound simple to you? Keynes’ animal spirits have explained a lot in history. Markets have been like dinghies on a tsunami because of simple feelings. Human emotions have been proven throughout history and by the biggest thinkers in modern economics to be a measure of consumer confidence. So why are we asking our customers to accept such a huge paradigm shift as to go from push to pull?

Traditionally, your customers are used to being PUSHED all necessary and relevant information. They haven't had to proactively ask for the post to deliver statements or notifications. They did not have to dream up usernames and passwords and then remember them. There was not a single requirement of effort needed for them to receive important information from the institution they trusted to take care of their hard earned cash. So why do we now think they will be open to being PULLED?

A paradigm shift in customer behaviour is still a long time coming. Analyst reports indicate that:

  • 37% of people say they will never give up their paper statements according to Forrester
  • 61% say that remembering multiple use names and passwords is a barrier to paperless adoption
  • And more telling still...46% would like a statement emailed to them whilst only 14% want to fetch it on a biller’s website as covered in Seybold’s report

All they need is a PUSH. Reduce the number of clicks, passwords, time, effort, print and post by adopting a tried and tested push model in the digital space. To convince your customers to go paperless and simplify your business, all they need is a little PUSH. Send them their statements securely via email and make the process of switching easy and you’ll find that customers are willing to convert as they’re moving from the push of paper to the push over email.

Simplification is the buzz word, make it work for you AND your customers.

Comments: (7)

Michael Kyritsis - ACI - London | 04 December, 2012, 16:44

my personal bugbear is that none of the banks or credit card companies I use let me add notes to my online statements.  I like to tick off amounts that I've checked, for example work-related expenses that I've remembered to claim back from my employer.  So I have to download them and paste into an Excel spreadsheet which is editable.

Sarah Appleby - Striata- Financial Services Technology - Rochester | 05 December, 2012, 09:07

"my personal bugbear is that none of the banks or credit card companies I use let me add notes to my online statements.  I like to tick off amounts that I've checked, for example work-related expenses that I've remembered to claim back from my employer.  So I have to download them and paste into an Excel spreadsheet which is editable."

In reply to above those are fantastic ideas! Currently, Striata sends out eStatements that can be flat or interactive PDFs attached directly to emails which could feature the type of sorting of which you speak. This would eliminate the need to cut and paste as you would simply choose how your purchases are sorted on a tab. In fact, it's such a great suggestion, I'm going to bring it up at our next product dev! Thanks for your comment!

Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 05 December, 2012, 11:06

PULL or PUSH, roughly half the eBills I receive still contain passwords, which I, like the 61%, find very painful, so I continue to belong to the 37% group of Forrester. It's almost a year ago that I learned about the power of AcrobatX on these pages. During this period, I've managed to figure out how to highlight certain sections of the eBill using this software. Hopefully, I'll find enough time and energy in the future to master it such that I can annotate my eBills with notes of the type mentioned by MichaelK and simultaneously get my accountant and auditor to install AcrobatX on their computers so that they can read my notes. Maybe it's a stretch but I'll endeavor to do all this before my service providers tell me that PUSH / PULL have become passé and pitch the next best technology - social media, maybe? - for bill distribution. As for using eBills to fulfill perennial KYC requirements, I can't win 'em all, can I?

Sarah Appleby - Striata- Financial Services Technology - Rochester | 05 December, 2012, 13:07

The next best thing IS here! Push means you no longer need a password... at least with Striata. You open the PDF attachment with a 'shared secret' which provides all of the security of a password using only information you already know and do not have to remember. It makes an enormous difference to customer's, like you, Ketharaman, who are plagued by multiple user names and passwords in order to maintain a secure online setting.

For businesses, the benefit shows increased eAdoption because of the ease of customer use.

Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 05 December, 2012, 14:09

When I said that roughly half my eBills and eStatements received by PUSH or PULL contained passwords, the implication was that the other half did not. The biller implements - or does not implement - passwords for reasons related to the fidelity of their contact management system. This decision is technology-agnostic and I don't know any PUSH-based eBilling technology that insists upon passwords (or shared secrets, for that matter).

Talking about shared secrets, in this post, I'd cited the following example: 

"Your password is a combination of first 3 letters of your name followed by last 5 digits of your registered alternate mobile number."

While the biller had called it a password, it could actually qualify to be a shared secret. So, if it's easy to remember, it's difficult to decipher. This is true of many shared secrets that I've set up. This is the exact opposite of passwords. While I'm open to other examples of shared secrets, I don't see a major difference between passwords and shared secrets at this point.

Sarah Appleby - Striata- Financial Services Technology - Rochester | 06 December, 2012, 11:00

Great post/blog and thanks for those comments! First, I'd like to say that in the UK, any data sensitive/account level information, such as a statement, must be password protected. The security levels that email provide are not deemed sufficient by data protection bodies and telcos, banks, etc. are not allowed to put any account information into the body of the email. Hence, companies either attach an eStatement that has a password/shared secret OR they just send an alert and tell you to fetch your bill on their portal.

The problem with a portal is that we all are registered on many with multiple usernames and passwords. This is hard to remember and people are fed up. It isn't convenient and creates call centre traffic for companies as people forget what info they used to sign up.

Although you may find the concept of a shared secret strange or even confusing (and I can understand this myself), the fact that it calls upon information that customers should know off the top of their head shows a massive decrease in call centre traffic in comparison to portals. But I admit it may still be more complex than opening an envelope.

The funny thing is, the Forrester you report to cite in your blog regarding the lack of interest in eChannels and portals is the exact one that we use to gain business. Customers control the eAdoption process and uptake of eStatements with us and prove time and time again that they really like the concept of an attachment that they access anywhere, anytime with a password based on things easily accessed in their memory. The last eAdoption campaign we did had 40% uptake in 1 month. Not bad.

Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 06 December, 2012, 11:56

A portal can be designed to provide access with a shared secret as much as a biller / regulator may force a password on a PDF attachment. In this day and age of social media, I find it difficult to believe that there's any shared secret question the answer to which is known only to the said customer and the biller - although I remain open minded about this and, in my previous comment, I've sought out a specific example of one that is at once easy to decipher, yet difficult to guess by third parties. Therefore, I treat password or shared secret as simply ways to "gate" content. Since the onset of the Internet, people are naturally used to facing gates on portals and not facing them on emails, which is why the latter poses unnatural change in consumer behavior, even if the former does result in some grief. But, this grief in the case of portals is "shared grief" since people access portals for viewing balances, making payments and many other things, so there's no separate grief caused by eBills and eStatements. Whereas, with PUSH-based technology, there's "yet another" password / shared secret and, therefore, incremental grief, caused only by eBills and eStatements.

Unfortunately, since I've experienced being on both sides of the fence, eAdoption rates don't mean much in isolation: As I'd pointed out in another post, I know billers who have used techniques to achieve 100% eAdoption on Day 1, let alone 40% in Month 1. While the biller and their eBilling technology provider can pat themselves for this achievement, their "early win" also turned out to be short-lived when (a) their TransPromos rates started dropping, and (b) some of their customers - including me - left them because they hated the questionable practices used by them to ram eAdoption down their throats. I continue to believe that the best way to boost eAdoption is by providing more value to the customer without increasing friction - something that is technologically feasible yet missing from live eImplementations I've come across so far.

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Sarah Appleby

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Business Development

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Striata- Financial Services Technology

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