Paying bills continues to be a pain point for many consumers, but it’s not only because of a lack of cash to cover them.
That’s the overarching finding of a consumer survey published by payments news outlet PAYMENTSNEXT. A whopping 70 percent of consumers queried for the study said the money wasn’t their “main stressor” in bill payment, with 44 percent noting that a “poor bill-paying experience” causing them the greatest tension and expressing the wish for a more effortless, more manageable experience on this front.
Perhaps more telling, more than half (51 percent) of respondents to the survey said they paid at least one bill late during the past 12 months, and 37 percent chalked it up to procrastination or having forgotten that a payment was due. Twenty-five percent of consumers admitted to feeling disorganized when attempting to manage and pay their bills, and 52 percent conceded that remembering login information is a source of great anxiety. And asked to grade their ability to remember bill due dates, 21 percent gave themselves a poor (“D”) or failing (“F”) mark.
Digging a bit deeper, other reasons for late payments cited by survey participants included “bill was lost or overlooked in the mail” (35 percent), too many different due dates (24 percent), and “too complicated” (19 percent). Nearly one-third of consumers said it would be easier to pay bills on time if they had access to mobile payment options.
No matter what, the survey findings make it crystal clear: Businesses of all types and in all markets must do more to offer consumers a varied menu of ways to pay their bills promptly. These methods should and do address some of the critical bill payment pain points. The survey brought rationales for lateness were brought to light by the survey, for example, by eliminating the need to mail payments or making it impossible to forget bill due dates. Such a menu can include solutions that allow for:
- Recurring payments. A recurring payment solution makes it easier to manage payment due dates by allowing consumers to set a specific day of the month when their payment will be automatically withdrawn from a linked bank account.
- Mobile payments. Such a solution enables consumers to easily make payments from anywhere, via a smartphone or tablet.
- SMS (text) payments. A text-based solution lets consumers text their payments. Consumers even get a reminder that payments are due.
- Voice-enabled payments. With a voice-enabled solution, consumers call in their payment, following a series of prompts for entering the information needed to complete the transaction.
- Hosted web payments. In this scenario, merchants establish a payment site that’s linked to their website. Consumers can sign into their account and choose a day to make a payment each month rather than automatically withdraw a payment from their account on a specific date. The hosted web payment option is incredibly appealing to consumers who cannot commit to paying a bill on a specific date for a particular reason (e.g., they need to wait for a paycheck before handling their bills).
- Electronic document-signing. With a solution like this in place, consumers who enroll in recurring payment or other automatic payment plans can electronically sign the documents that confirm their enrollment, 24 hours a day and in the comfort of their own home.