Knowing the true value of an electronic customer (for eBilling and eDelivery) will allow management to make better decisions about a) communications strategy and b) the amount of corporate resources to put behind the initiative. By taking a holistic view of the benefits, a project to maximize customer acceptance of eBilling and eDelivery will move from "nice to have" to "must have."

These are seven areas of opportunity that should be included in any business case for eBilling and eDelivery.

1. Hard dollar cost savings 

This is not a hard calculation. Compare the cost for print, postage, labor, equipment and overhead versus the cost for eDelivery acquisition and delivery. With at least a 60% direct cost reduction, the payback on the investment comes very quickly, generally in three to nine months.

2. Better customer communications

It is clear that customers want to hear from companies in different and, sometimes, multiple ways. Companies can create great content, but if customers don’t go to the portal to read it, or if by habit, they automatically discard mailing inserts, then the content becomes meaningless. Regular, meaningful customer communications is important to building your brand. If customers and agents want to receive electronic communications without the hassle, then you had better pay attention.

3. Corporate image/carbon footprint

People want to do business with companies that they like and trust. Trust can be a complicated thing, easily lost and complex to gain. Part of that equation for maintaining trust is that it requires your company to be easy to do business with, socially conscious and environmentally sensitive. It is not just about saving three tons of trees for every 100,000 half-ounce letters (using 50% recycled paper). It’s also about energy savings, wastewater, greenhouse gases and solid waste disposal.

4. Business process improvements

When implementing or expanding your eBilling and ePayment options, don’t just automate what you have. Use this as an opportunity to streamline and automate the billing process and get more customers to pay electronically. Going digital can be as simple as using the same processes and just delivering documents more efficiently. When improving the billing processes, consider both sides of the business relationship, the biller (the company) and its customers.

  • Customer enhancements: Allowing customers to receive their documents by email instead of requiring them to visit a website is a huge timesaver for the customer. Other customer enhancements can include: reducing data input steps; simplifying user names and passwords without compromising security; facilitating setting up recurring payments; and, of course, making documents easier to read and follow, including self-help and Q&A.

  • Company enhancements: For a company, receiving more electronic payments and fewer checks is a big advantage in time, cost and accuracy. Other enhancements can include: increasing customer use of self-service for both changes and Q&A; analytics and tracking; and including sales agents in a two-way communications process.

5. Better cash flow

A three- to five-day improvement in days sales outstanding is nothing to sneeze at. Implications of lower receivables are reflected in reduced write-offs, lower borrowing costs and more working capital. A healthier balance sheet will make your bank and Wall Street happy, and maybe take the frown off the CFO’s face.

6. Better customer experience and customer loyalty

Without stating the obvious, we all know that it is a lot less expensive to sell to existing customers than to find new customers. People do business with people/companies they like and trust. By delivering good content to customers in the format they want, brand value, customer loyalty and customer retention will rise.

7. Cross-selling opportunities

And speaking of selling to existing customers, every customer communications should be a selling opportunity. Whether it be a statement, notice or bill, there is the opportunity to present a relevant message or new offer, which can seamlessly bring customers back to your website or sales agent for the appropriate action. Targeted one-on-one marketing of relevant offers is highly effective. Just ask Google and Facebook; the trend is clear. One difference between advertising on the eBill vs. Google and Facebook is that cross-selling to existing customers when sending eBills and eStatements costs nothing, zero, nada. That is not true for almost any other customer communications and sales channel.

Taken together, management will clearly see that 10% to 25% electronic adoption just doesn’t work anymore, and it’s time to take new steps to achieve the 40% to 50% paper suppression they should expect.


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