Use these proven strategies to inspire customer eBill adoption.
Tablet computers. Smartphones. Mobile credit cards. Only a few years ago, these were considered cutting-edge technologies. Today, they’re tools people feel they can’t live without.
Like these innovations, electronic billing has moved into the mainstream. Mail-based bill payment fell by 40 percent between 2000 and 2010, while electronic bill payments more than quadrupled during the same timeframe.1 In fact, 2010 marked the first year fewer than 50 percent of all bills were paid by mail.
“As more consumers get more comfortable living electronically, I think they will embrace eBills,” says Patricia Hewitt, a director at Mercator Advisory Group, a payments research and advisory firm based in Massachusetts.
Yet, many companies still struggle to achieve high rates of eBill adoption. It’s clear that consumers want more efficient ways to pay bills, but some eBill campaigns tend to fall flat while others inspire customers to make the switch.
Here are some strategies that can help your company achieve higher rates of eBill adoption:
1. Simplify electronic bill payment and enrollment: It takes about eight clicks — including accessing the website, logging in, and locating and paying a bill — to submit payment on most eBill portals. This type of pull strategy requires customers to visit a website to proactively enroll and then log in every time thereafter. To simplify the process, consider using a pushstrategy, where customers receive a secure PDF bill via email that allows them to pay in three clicks or less.
2. Routinely gather email addresses: Make sure that email addresses are routinely gathered during all phone and online interactions with customers. The more email addresses a company has up front, the easier it will be to send messages to customers and implement new eBilling strategies.
3. Convey the benefits of eBilling: There are many benefits to eBilling, so make sure customers know about them. Companies can tout the fact that eBilling is convenient, helps avoid late fees, is cheaper than mailing a bill payment (no postage), reduces clutter and decreases the time spent shredding sensitive documents.
4. Offer incentives: Consumers love rewards. Consider offering a statement credit, a discount or even a chance to win a prize to entice them to switch from paper to electronic bills. “That’s another way to drive adoption and awareness,” Hewitt says.
5. Replicate the paper bill experience: Electronic billing can be a hard sell for consumers who like to closely audit paper bills. “It’s very important that the statement online is either an exact facsimile or very, very close” to the paper bill, Hewitt says. Also, make it easy for customers to locate and print their online statements.
6. Make changes gradually: Beware of abruptly implementing potentially unpopular policies, such as charging for paper bills. If you’re going to make this type of change, do it gradually and make sure you clearly communicate the change to your customers.
 “The Household Diary Study, Mail Use & Attitudes in FY 2010,” U.S. Postal Service
 “eBilling Challenges & Benefits,” striata.com