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8 eBilling innovations to watch for in 2012

The dynamic eBilling revolution has spurred many innovative solutions, a few of which have already started hitting the current market.

I have highlighted 8 of these innovations that I think billers should consider including in their strategic agenda this year...

1. Mobile Billing

Billers simply cannot continue through 2012 without a billing strategy for mobile devices. Whether yours is a smartphone or tablet market (or not), the bottom line is that your customer wants quick and easy access to their billing information on their preferred device.

Email is the common 'app' across smartphones, tablets and computers, and arguably the easiest way to reach your customer. Mobile, non-email users can be reached through MMS mini-statements or SMS payment reminders.

Allow your customer their choice of reading device and they will love you for it.

2. PDF is not the enemy

There are benefits to offering a range of electronic bill formats based on how your customer interacts with your bill and on what device. For a quick read on mobile email, a flat PDF is the better option.

If the customer wants to engage with your bill, viewing graphs, sorting data or submitting forms, then offer a format that leverages larger screens and encourages interaction (smart PDF is best).

There is no need for a 'one size fits all' approach. Enabling your customer to choose their format means a better overall experience; resulting in brand loyalty and faster payment!

3. Payment from within an email

Continue your focus on customer convenience by providing an easy-to-use, secure payment process directly from the invoice.

Consumers are growing increasingly confident in using electronic payment channels. Enabling payment directly from the invoice; whether it's received by email on PC or mobile device, or even as a printed envelope; is a winning formula for both Biller and customer.

4. Payment reminders

Payment reminders is a low-risk, high reward innovation that will significantly enhance your customer experience.

Activated by the customer from within an electronic invoice, the automated electronic payment reminder helps customers pay on time, avoiding the consequences of a missed or late payment.

5. Digital Receipts

As consumers store more of their daily interactions electronically (bills, policies, contracts, payment confirmations, payslips), the next paper dinosaur to be replaced is the retail receipt.

Taking the lead are retailers like Apple, Sears, Kmart, Gap and Banana Republic who provide the option of receiving your retail receipt by email. No more shoeboxes full of random paper slips!

6. Transactional messages

This is the year to reconsider your transactional email strategy.

Transactional messages - the real workhorses of customer communication, are generated automatically when someone interacts with your organization. Whether a confirmation or failure notification, a payment receipt or booking form; these messages form a vital (but often neglected) part of your customer's brand experience.

Just like your eBill, transactional emails provide great opportunities for you to engage your customers through an established electronic relationship.

7. Transpromo marketing

Organizations generally include marketing inserts in the same envelope as their paper bills and statements. Don't think that converting customers to eBills means the end of your statement 'stuffers'.

The electronic bill is also prime real estate for marketing and promotional offers but with additional benefits. Unlike promotions on a brochure or website, email content can be customized to include relevant, targeted and personalized marketing offers.

8. Anti-phishing

As more of our daily interactions and financial transactions become electronic; criminal activity such as phishing emails will continue to require management.

Does your customer know how to recognize a valid email from your organization?

When communicating electronically with customers, you need to establish standards that promote responsible behavior. There are innovative ways to reduce the likelihood of your customer being duped by a fraudulent email.

Once you've implemented anti-phishing techniques, the next challenge is to educate your customer on what to expect from your organization.

It is evident that most of these innovations are fueled by customer convenience, which in turns drives paper turn off. This enables billers to meet their paperless goals and ultimately to enjoy the resultant cost benefits.  So, perhaps it's time for you to review your eBilling strategy?


Comments: (2)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 05 April, 2012, 15:51Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Good list. Apart from these, I'd like to add a couple more imperatives for billers:

  1. Spread awareness that customers can use Acrobat Reader X to highlight, annotate and save eBills. This can increase eBilling adoption and boost paper turnoff.
  2. Take a more holistic view and stop thinking with a binary mindset of either paper or electronic. For various reasons, I prefer printed bills. Each month, I receive a bill of around 10 pages of which 9 pages are taken up by itemized billing of local calls. I really don't want to know about local calls at that level of granularity - in any case, most of them have a 0.00 charge since they fall within my plan's free call quota. I was just wondering, if only I could selectively turn off the itemized list for local calls, the size of my monthly bill would drop from 10 pages to one page, I could "Go 90% Green", the biller could save huge costs in the process. When I called the biller's call center to check if they could offer such an option, they had no clue what I was talking about. When I tried to explain, they cut me off saying, "we can send you either printed bill or eBill", so I abandoned my attempt. By offering and promoting such an option, I can predict that the biller will save far more costs than plodding along with their 2-year long ineffective attempt to move people to eBills and drive paper turnoff. 

Some 8-10 years ago, many document management vendors changed their tune from "paperless" to "less paper". I think it's time eBilling vendors and biller marketers did the same.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 11 April, 2012, 08:28Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Thanks for your comment Ketharaman. I like the 'less paper' descriptor as I agree there will remain a place and market for paper communication, even as as scales tip towards electronic. Be well.  

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