Consumers Want Better Bill Pay Experiences. Are You Prepared to Deliver Them?

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U.S. consumers have spoken, and they’re not mincing words: They want their banks and other companies they transact with to provide better convenience, bill pay options and security.

According to research published by PYMENTS and Mastercard in February, most of the 2,000 consumers surveyed encounter one of the above friction points (lack of convenience, payment options and security issues) when paying bills both online and offline—the majority in the last 90 days alone. Not surprisingly, bill-payers who primarily use traditional payment methods, like phone and mail, are even more likely to experience pain points than those who transact their payments digitally. This is concerning because the data also found that highly satisfied bill-payers faced 48% fewer pain points than relatively unsatisfied ones. The takeaway is that the more barriers you have to a good bill-pay experience, the more likely you are to leave customers looking for another financial institution to do business with. Let’s look at the bill-payment features and functionality consumers seek most widely from their banks.

Security is the biggest concern 

Just over half of bill-payers surveyed say security is highly important to their bill-payment experiences, and a fifth say it’s the most important factor. This makes sense in a world where data privacy concerns, breaches and identity theft are abound. 

Banks must partner with a provider that protects payments at every touchpoint with the strictest security and compliance to safeguard sensitive online and offline information. They must ensure you are enabled to send secure electronic files and notifications, print documents in fully monitored production facilities and demonstrate continuous updates to mitigate risk and keep up with all current and emerging standards. 

Choice and convenience come next

After security, the critical bill-payment features consumers prefer relate to having more choice and access to digital options:

  • Access to online billing statements: 42.6%
  • Ability to view and pay bills from the same site or app: 37.9%
  • Access to online payment options: 37.6%
  • Paperless billing: 33.8%
  • Easy access to payment portals with billing details: 31.5%
  • Real-time payments: 30.8%
  • Multiple payment options: 28.1%

Much of the research linked above discusses the appetite for a single bill presentment and payment system. There are already integrated software platforms that allow banks to execute online bill presentment and payment functionality and widespread customer communications across offline and online channels. These platforms offer several significant benefits.

For one, you give your customers what they want: choice and flexibility in how and when they want to pay their bills. This includes payment channels like web, mobile, mail, text, in-person and over the phone through an IVR or live CSR and payment methods including ACH, debit card, credit card, check, cash and Apple Pay, some of which are instantaneous. Adding these digital bill-pay options—and allowing users to switch between them each time they pay a bill—can help you get paid faster while reducing the costs associated with paper statements. However, one bill pay experience mistake banks often make is not marketing these additional capabilities once they have them. Cross-promote your bill-pay channels and methods across various customer touchpoints, including printed statements and websites, to encourage digital adoption.

These single software systems also give you a unified view of each customer, their payment and communications preferences, behaviors, demographics and so much more. You don’t have to use different systems to access additional data sets about the same customer. Instead, this integrated technology allows you to execute and optimize omnichannel communications at scale, so you engage with your customers where they want to engage with you. You can use these communications to encourage customers to pay their bills and cross-sell and upsell with various, personalized offers based on the products and services they use.  

Consumers also want payment schedulers  

Autopay was a desired bill-payment feature for 31.7% of respondents to the research survey. Adding payment schedulers—one-time, recurring, AutoPay, early payment discounts and payment plans—to your banking features is a great way to ensure you get paid on time. You can also combine this feature with automated payment reminders at specific points using a variety of channels that link directly to a payment portal. Using the centralized data you get from a single platform, you can gauge which channels customers use most to pay on time or early, and optimize message and campaign orchestration from there. 

OSG powers the type of single platform offering banking customers crave. If you’re interested in seeing how you can bring together bill presentment, bill payment and communications activities into one easy-to-use, integrated system, contact us today.