Paying bills is an obligation. But the more cumbersome the process, the more challenges a business will face.
Research shows that when paying bills regardless of channel, too many hurdles with the user experience can thwart customers from making timely payments. Let’s explore some of these common bill pay experience mistakes, and how to either avoid or fix them.
Mistake #1: Offering only paper bill pay methods
Forcing customers to pay only by mail can result in late payments and additional days sales outstanding. Mail is the second costliest bill pay method due to bills being lost, not received on time or misplaced at home. There are additional cost factors – paying a bill via paper can cost both the payee and the payer more money in terms of shipping, postage and paper, whose prices have risen 45% over the last year.
Consumers are ready to wean off of paper bill pay. Payments by mail have fallen from 44% in 2011 to 19% in 2021 while online payments have gone up from 51% to 79%. Plus, 60% of consumers want flexibility to select their payment method as a desired bill-pay feature.
To give customers what they want while getting paid faster and unlocking cash flow, your business must consider adding different bill payment channels and methods. These channels include payments via web, mobile, mail, text, in person and over the phone through an IVR or live CSR. Payment methods include ACH, debit card, credit card, check, cash and Apple Pay. Additional benefits here are that mobile bill pay methods such as Apple Pay allows customers to bypass entering certain personal details and enable instant payments from their phones.
By the way, adding more bill pay methods doesn’t mean you need to throw out paper all together. Instead, integrate traditional and digital touchpoints that give customers more choice to pay when and where they want.
Mistake #2: Not promoting other bill pay channels and methods
What’s the use of incorporating other bill pay channels and methods into your business if none of your customers know about them?
To encourage digital adoption, marketing these new offerings to your customers is critical. The good news is, you can use all of your offline and online channels together to promote these various bill pay methods. Remind customers of their choices using your website, email, social, SMS, phone and, yes, even print. For instance, try adding links to your online payment portal or a landing page to print statements, or include messaging encouraging paperless statements on login forms, account creation forms and pages, online chats and message centers. But make sure you keep your messaging relevant. Once you’ve gotten a customer to convert to digital bill pay, don’t keep reminding them to go paperless! Instead, take the opportunity to promote other offerings and services to create a sticky long-lasting relationship with your customer.
Mistake #3: Ignoring the onboarding process
Don’t stop at leading your customers to paperless bill pay. Educating customers and sharing tips on using the payment portal will be instrumental in ensuring adoption, as well as simplifying and enhancing their experience. This not only will help lead to the desired outcome of getting them to pay online, but will also boost brand loyalty.
Consider marketing tactics such as in-portal banners and pop-ups, tutorials, videos and graphics for how to navigate the system, with details on all its features. For new customers, consider welcome messaging to get them to sign up for paperless billing immediately. They’ll be more likely to initiate online payments when they first set up a new online account.
Mistake #4: Failing to deliver a seamless customer journey
So you’ve begun offering different payment channels and methods beyond just paper. That’s great—but only if you’ve made it seamless for customers to toggle between the different payment channels. To get this right, businesses need the right combination of technology and human expertise.
A large reason companies struggle to execute adequate customer journeys is because they are using disparate point solutions for different bill presentment and payment channels. This results in siloed data and channels that make a coordinated, cohesive experience across touchpoints virtually impossible. Integrating technology and data through a SaaS platform that enables automated, seamless interaction across channels based on individual customer profiles and behaviors helps improve the customer experience. This platform should also be easy to use for your own company, with fully configurable settings and simple implementation so you don’t need IT to get set up.
Mistake #5: A lack of payment reminders and schedulers
Did you know that as many as one third of consumers will pay a bill after the third reminder? Just like your customers might need reminders to sign up for paperless billing, they might also need a friendly nudge to actually pay their bills.
With the right technology, you can send automated payment reminders at certain points in the bill pay timeline, using email, text, IVR and print. Try adding links to these channels—yes, even mail—that take customers directly to a payment portal. Plus, you’ll be able to access insights on which of these channels resonates most for individual customers, and then you can segment the audiences who receive these reminders based on their past payment history and preferences.
In tandem, offer your customers ways to schedule their payments ahead of time to increase their likelihood of paying on time. In fact, consumers with higher household incomes are more likely to pay their bills using automatic methods. These may include one-time, recurring, AutoPay, early payment discounts and payment plans. You can also consider slashing interest rates or dispensing bonuses to consumers that sign up for AutoPay or who pay early.
The key to ensure a great customer experience is to make the reminder, scheduling and payment processes simple. Don’t let these common bill pay experience mistakes put your business at risk. As we begin a new year with macroeconomic uncertainty, it will be more critical than ever to ensure you’re set up to get paid as quickly as possible. By offering choice and communicating effectively across all your channels, you’ll prioritize the customer experience, which will lead to getting paid on, if not ahead of, schedule. Learn more about our bill pay solutions here.