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Online Billing: To Suppress or Not To Suppress?

by Jeffery Downs

Electronic billing or online billing presents opportunities to significantly reduce the cost of sending bills and receiving payments. Experts have identified three areas of cost savings:

1. Decrease in postage from paper suppression

2. Decrease in the number of calls to a customer service organization

3. Decrease in the number of days a sale remains outstanding.

In this article we will explore how to effectively use online billing to decrease the dollars spent on paper and postage.

In order to save on paper and postage you must encourage the customer to decline receiving a paper bill. Some companies rightly ask the question, “Can we legally suppress paper?” A good question and one in which you should ask the attorney on staff; however, in most instances you can safely say yes, as long as the customer has a choice; however, how that choice is presented will determine how much money the company saves on paper and postage.

Following are the different categories of choices:

Either Or
Would you like…
Call Customer Service
More Money
Reward

The “either or” choice gives the customer a choice to either continue receiving a paper statement or enroll in e.billing, but not both. This choice is presented when the customer first click on the enroll button. A message comes to the forefront telling the customer that if they continue and enroll to receive an e.bill they will no longer receive a paper statement. The customer must then click the accept button in order to continue. When the customer clicks accept their bill is electronically marked and no longer printed.

Pros

This method is excellent for suppressing paper. Customers understand right up front that the paper will be suppressed. The most technologically savvy customers have no problem with this method.

Cons

However, those who are a little timid with technology and don’t want to lose the paper, or have had a bad experience with an online solution in the past will shy away from this option.

Adoption

You can count on the 30 and under crowd signing up for this option; however, the 30 and older will be a mixed bag. If you have run the demographics and find that you have a technologically advanced population then this option is for you.

Would you like…

“Would you like to discontinue receiving your paper bill?” This question is usually asked at the end of the enrollment process. The customer then has the option to choose yes or no. If “yes” then their bill is marked with a do not print, if “no” then the customer has access to the bill online and will continue to receive the paper bill in the mail.

Pros

You give the customer the ultimate flexibility of how to receive the bill.

Cons

Most customers will answer no. “If the company is going to offer, I will take both paper and e.Bill.” Cost savings is still a reality but not for the hard numbers of print and postage.

Adoption

Large population of adoption; however, a low rate of cost savings because customers will generally take both options, “two is better than one” will be the customers philiosphy.

Call Customer Service

When signing up for e.Bill the customer is told that paper statement will no longer be sent; however, if they would like to receive a paper statement they will need to call customer service.

Pros

You give the customer an opportunity to receive theirpaper bill as well as the electronic bill. The customer has a sense of control in that they can contact customer service to get their paper bill.

Cons

The customer who is skiddish about technology will opt out of the online billing option simply because the threat of losing paper.

Adoption

The 30 and under crowd, no problem with adoption. Others will adopt however the rate of climb will be slow.

More Money

A customer can continue receiving a paper bill if they are willing to pay for it. Usually companies use this option with a customer base that does not easily switch to another service. When using this type of negative campaign customers who want the paper will call with a not so sweet word or two for your customer service representative.

Pros

You get a high rate of adoption and save a ton of money.

Cons

A potential to upset the customer base, which if they are a low churn customer base then, no problem; however, if the customer base can jump ship quickly they will.

Adoption

High - you will see double digit adoption quickly and invoice processing costs will go down dramatically.

Reward

A reward makes the customer feel good and makes the company look good. Rewards can include prize drawings, cash giveaways, or money off the bill for a few months. Rewards are an excellent way to increase adoption and decrease costs.

Pros

Your adoption rate goes up at a pretty steady clip and your customers feel good about your company.

Cons

This will cost a little bit of money up front, but in the online billing world you have to “spend a little to save a lot.’ To suppress or not to suppress is a question that begs an answer. Use any of the above techniques to suppress and start saving invoice processing costs now.

Article Source:http://articlewell.com

About the Author:

Jeff Downs is an experienced billing solutions specialist and an expert in electronic billing strategies and solutions. He helps companies slash the cost of billing through the effective use of electronic billing strategies. Take a look at the billing industries best practices at www.bestpracticesystems.com.




















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