Here at E-Complish, we’ve written before about the benefits to businesses and consumers conferred by switching to an Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment (EBPP) system of payments remittance. In a nutshell, this is an all-digital, “paperless” way for a business to bill its customers and for them to pay the bill. These benefits are so awesome that researchers are forecasting paperless business-to-consumer invoices to hit the $23.4 billion mark globally by 2022.
But, there is still room in the business world for printed and snail-mailed invoices and bills, and for consumers to snail-mail back envelopes containing their payments. As great as it is, before switching to a full-on EBPP system a business may want to consider why some customers still may not respond well to that system, at least not if it becomes their only option.
For one thing, some consumers — especially those who are currently past the age of 60 — may not feel that their computers or smartphones are secure enough for their liking. Maybe they’re just more used to the older, slower way of doing things and get frightened off by all of the many news headlines and reports about hackers stealing people’s personal and financial data to buy things in their names and they stick them with the bills. Another possibility is that they’re not, or don’t believe that they are, savvy enough to buy and maintain the latest and greatest device protection software and would prefer the “tried and true” method of trusting the USPS with handling their bills and payments.
Another possibility for balking at EBPP is a dislike of having to rely on a screen for reading and processing bills. Just as there are those who don’t like Kindle books and only want to read printed books (a trend that’s growing even among younger adults who are immersed in technology), so there are those who desire to spend as little time as possible reading from a screen. Maybe they feel it’s uncomfortable or it is hurting their eyes. Yes, there are still people who print out nearly everything from their devices before sitting down to read it! If these people feel forced to deal only with EBPP payment methods, they may be slower to pay. Some may even forget to pay by accident, meaning you’ve got to spend time sending out a late notice and monitoring if they pay at last.
There are also people who fret that since there are some documents that, by law, are supposed to be kept available in hard copy, it’s just more “legally comfortable” to take care of billing matters by snail-mail. These people are fine with keeping filing cabinets full of folders containing copies of bills or invoices and photocopies of the checks they mailed in to pay them. They’re of the “better safe than sorry” mindset.
Let’s remember, these customers are good people and they’re making you money. It’s important for customer loyalty that you maintain a print and snail-mail billing option available to them. Some people just do not like electronic bills for whatever reason and paper bills are what they want and are used to paying. That’s OK, here at E-Complish we do both EBPP and Print and Mail just for this reason.
However, with all of that acknowledged…let’s face reality. It’s almost the year 2020, and the numerous advantages of EBPP to businesses and consumers alike just cannot be denied.
If your business is looking to switch as many customers as it can over to EBPP (and it ought to be!), there are some things about it that you can tout to your customers to help them see how much they’re missing out on by sticking with print and snail-mail for billing. You can put these advisory tips on your website and include notices about them in the mail, including in the envelopes containing their bills.
One advantage to consumers is the savings in terms of both time and money. As of this writing, a one-ounce first-class letter costs approximately 50 cents to mail. So, postage for every two bill payments mailed in costs at least $1.00. Over the course of one year, that adds up, quite possibly to over $50 per year. Then there’s the time it takes to write out a check, seal it in an envelope, address the envelope (if need be), and ensure it gets put in the mail. When a customer runs out of stamps, he has to make time to get down to the post office to buy more. All of these little things add up to a not insignificant amount of time burned and larger carbon footprint.
Another advantage is saved space. Keeping files full of payment transaction information takes up space. When the bills first arrive by mail, they tend to stack up on a table or desk, taking up more space and producing some additional clutter (in which a bill may get lost and go unpaid). When a customer goes paperless, that customer doesn’t need to have all of that space taken up. Moreover, making payments becomes faster and more convenient, which is an aspect of EBPP that has tremendous appeal to today’s highly mobile, fast-paced culture.
Then there’s environmental stewardship, about which most people today have at least some measure of sensitivity. People know that it’s not a good idea to use resources, such as trees, without good need. But the more bills that need to be printed out and snail-mailed in envelopes and the more checkbooks that need to be printed, the more trees that need to be cut down. EBPP is healthy for the environment in so many ways.
Customers who switch to EBPP payments are less likely to pay late or be delinquent, this a fact. This is good for a business, sure, but it’s also good for customers, because their accounts remain in better standing (which may make them eligible for customer loyalty rewards).
So, the bottom line is, while we agree there’s a place for print and snail-mail, EBPP is waiting and ready when you are to make your life a little easier and put a little more money back into your wallet as a consumer. And little things do add up in time. Just ask the next 90 year old you meet for their opinion.