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What if your eBill could remind you to pay?

26 April 2012  |  1977 views  |  1

As an email marketing and billing provider, I choose to receive most communication by email, including the majority of my monthly bills (except for those vendors that don't offer email billing – SO 'last year'). Every month, when I open an electronic invoice to see how much I have to pay and by when, I end up manually creating a reminder in my calendar, so as not to miss the payment due date and potentially be charged overdue fees. Or even worse, have my electricity or telephone cut off!

Now, I'm the first person to admit that I covet efficiency and the concept of a bill payment reminder would work really well for me. But there's no way I am going to use a web-based Bill consolidator to remind me, nor download an 'app' onto my desktop or mobile - even if it's free, it's just too much work for all my different billers. If I have to log into my Online Banking website to set a reminder (and many banks offer this) I might as well just schedule the actual payment. Hence none of these methods score highly on my efficiency gauge.

This got me thinking . . . what if the eBill itself could remind me - on the appropriate date?

All it takes is a 'Set Reminder' button on the eBill, which enables me to request a payment reminder by email or text. I can select how far in advance I want to be reminded and even an appropriate time of day.

What is sent to my inbox or mobile is something like this:

Payment Reminder: pay City Power the amount of $138.80 by 14/09/11.

What this means to me is avoiding the consequences of a missed payment, which is not only inconvenient, but it could also result in financial penalties or termination of service.

For the Biller, this means increasing the likelihood of receiving my payment by the due date, which for most businesses is an attractive proposition. I suspect Billers would even be happy to cover the minimal cost of the reminder message, as it would improve their DSO.

But the potential for efficiency and convenience doesn't stop there.

With the steady increase of consumers using the Internet and mobile technology to do things faster whilst on the move, it would be a smart 'next step' to enable payment directly from within the payment reminder.

Think about it - not only does the eBill remind you to pay, but you can pay immediately, with just one click or call. Now that's sexy!

The payment reminder for mobile (USSD) looks like this:

Payment Reminder: pay City Power the amount of $138.80 by 14/09/11. Dial *123*456# to pay.

And the email looks like this:

Payment Reminder: pay City Power the amount of $138.80 by 14/09/11. Click here to pay.

My efficiency gauge is going into overdrive!

As a consumer, would you use a service like this?

And if you're a Biller, would you pay for the reminder notices?

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Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 29 April, 2012, 11:52

As a channel, eBill might be new but the basic concept of reminders is old and Billers could've practised it for all these years via telephone, SMS, and other channels. However, despite all their lip service towards customer satisfaction, consumer advocacy and so forth, I don't recall the last time I received a reminder from any biller to pay before the due date. Looking at their business model, I'm not surprised: After all, Banks, Utilities and many other types of Billers make a lot of money for delayed payment e.g. credit card late payment fees and interest charges, electricity connection reinstatement charges, etc. Therefore, eBill reminder might have legs but only for the opposite business model: Billers will use it and consumers will pay for it.

On the other hand, DSO reduction has a strong value proposition. Billers might be willing to pay for a suitable functionality - rather than eBill reminder - that delivers this benefit more directly.

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