Attack of the Double-Dippers: Overcoming Paperless Billing Objections

October 26, 2013 Brian Watson

paperless billing double dippersDou∙ble Dip∙per (/‘dəbel dipər/) n.

1. A consumer that receives billing notices, statements, or invoices both online and using a traditional print and mail paper delivery channel.  See also: resource drain.

Online billing double-dipping is a text book case of good news/bad news.

On the positive side, double-dippers have spent time and energy to make the leap to paperless billing.

And that’s no small point.  Although online bill payment has steadily increased (to the point where three of every four U.S. report paying at least one bill via an online channel each month), paperless billing adoption is still struggling to reach critical mass.  For example, slightly less than half of U.S. consumers receive a bill electronically each month.

By embracing online billing and payment tools (if not using them exclusively), these consumers have indicated their willingness to at least try a new billing path.  They’re also likely among the 76% of U.S. consumers that have adopted online payment, helping billers reduce collection costs and accelerate and automate payment processing and posting.  

The downside?  Well, double-dippers also happen to be pretty blatant resource hogs. 

One of the primary benefits of paperless billing is that it helps eliminates traditional print and mail production and delivery costs.  But by receiving both online and traditional paper statements, double-dippers turn the efficiency advantage into an additional expense. 

Double dipping forces billers to not only pay production and postage overhead for traditional paper-based statements, but also shoulder the expense of creating, uploading, and hosting customers’ electronic equivalents as well.  

Just how widespread (and expensive) is the double-dipping problem?  The NACHA’s most recent PayItGreen survey reports that between 30 and 40% of consumers enrolled in paperless billing also receive a paper statement.  Given those numbers, it’s easy to see how double-dipping is disrupting the inherent production efficiencies provided by paperless billing.

Standing Up for Paperless Billing

Paperless billing is an annuity.  And a particularly valuable one at that. 

Sure, it’s environmentally friendly.  But the benefits to consumers go beyond green gains alone.  It also simplifies bill payment and record keeping.  Despite lingering security concerns, it’s actually safer than paper billing.  And it makes it easier for customers to track and supervise the billing process.  In fact, of the 48% of consumers that receive at least one electronic bill each month, three-quarters believe it helps them better manage their finances.

Convincing both double-dippers and customers who pay online but are eStatement holdouts to drop mail delivery takes a consistent marketing effort – everything from sweepstakes, giveaways, and discounts to statement stuffers and point-of-sale materials.

But it’s equally important that your marketing efforts recognize why customers aren’t taking the paperless billing plunge and how to combat their objectives.

The rest of this post shares a few of the common objections customers have about eStatements and the selling points you’ll need on which you’ll need to focus to change their thinking.

Objection: I need a physical copy of my bill as a reminder to avoid missing a payment

This is a common objection for customers wary of making the switch to eStatements.  And yet, there’s nothing unique about paper statements and their ability to act as a reminder. 

In fact, because email is considerably cheaper to send that traditional mail, reminders can be delivered as frequent as needed.  SMS text and automated voice message integration give customers more options to customize how and when they receive notifications.  And email and mobile alerts already have a built-in link that customers can use to quickly and easily view their statement and pay their bill. 

All told, paperless billing is probably the more foolproof way for customers to avoid a missed payment. 

Focus On:

• The reliability of email notification.  Best-class EBPP platforms provide several reminder messages – one when a bill is available online and additional alerts when a payment is close to its due date.

• How EBPP uses multiple alert channels – not just email but SMS text-based automated phone messaging as well – to personalize the notification process based upon consumer preference.

• Bill payment ease-of-use.  Payment links on all billing alerts and notifications make it possible for consumers to open an email, access their portal, and pay a bill in seconds.

Objection: I hold on to a copy of my paper statements for record keeping

Consumers that are meticulous about their personal records might not relish abandoning file cabinets and manila folders.  But for the rest of us, EBPP is a perfect tracking solution: offering extended storage capacity and easy access to past statements.  And even the record-keeping stalwarts can appreciate the ability to quickly print and save archived statements from their web billing portal.

Focus On:

• How online statement storage and fast, simple statement retrieval makes it easy to track and access past statements online.

• How easy it is for customers to save a permanent copy of their statements to a location on their computer or to print a hard copy for their records.

• The reliability of an electronic paper trail.  eStatements don’t get misplaced or accidentally shredded.   They remain in the same easy-to-access online repository -- just a few keystrokes and clicks away at any time.

• The benefits of being clutter-free.  Not only is it environmentally friendly, online statement storage frees up space and makes it easy to find the statement customers are looking for.  (Not to mention causes a whole lot less paper cut related injuries).

Objection: I’m worried about missing an email alert or having it end up in my spam folder

Reducing clutter is an under-the-radar benefit of paperless billing.  A mailbox without bills means cleaner counters, more organized mail bins, and less mess to shred.  That probably sounds like small potatoes … until you consider that the average American receives about 41 pounds of mail each year.

Unfortunately, paperless billing doesn’t do away with notifications; it simply shifts them from mailbox to inbox.  And because the average email user will receive 147 messages a day alongside your billing notifications, that can potentially lead to missed alerts. 

Understanding the drawbacks of email notification, eBillers have used smart techniques – from clear, easy-to-spot subject lines, to multiple notification messages and alert delivery channels – to ensure that bill deliverability is just as reliable online as off-.

Focus On:

• The dependability of your email system.  Making email verification part of the enrollment process helps ensure that your message is able to safely arrive in your customers’ email inbox.

• How your CAN-SPAM bona fides prevent email notifications from ending up caught in users’ spam filters.

• Emphasizing how much control users have over message notification – everything from the frequency and timing of email reminders, to whether they receive updates via email, text message, or automated voice mail.

Objection: It’s more difficult to view my statement

Sign-in is a necessary evil of online billing and payment.  Given the security concerns in play, there’s simply no way around password-protection (and all the hassles that can potentially involve).

True, it’s probably easier to open an envelope than it is to sign on to an EBPP website.  But paper and ink alone can’t match the features and benefits offered by an online portal.  Overcome your customers’ sign-on concerns and password-fatigue by spotlighting the extra value they receive from online billing and payment.

Focus On:

• The utility of eBilling.  Sure, account log-in is a minor inconvenience.  But it’s worth it when weighed against the tools users have at their disposal online, including stuff like statement storage, spend analyzers, email and mobile account alerts, detailed billing FAQs, and secure support.

• The ubiquity of eStatements.  Anytime/anywhere billing access means you customers will never have to endure a late fee because they’re physically separated from their statement.

• The security advantages.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, online billing and payment is actually safer than its offline counterpart.  Paper statements, checks, and other personal documents sent through the mail are more vulnerable to theft and fraud.  All it takes is one unsecured mailbox or dumpster-diving thief to put your personal info at risk.  EBPP, on the other hand, uses password protection and encryption to keep your data under lock-and-key.

• The one-stop appeal.  Most double-dippers are already paying online.  And if they’re signing-in to pay anyway, online statement access is only a few clicks away.


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