When we talk about adoption, we are generally referring to e-adoption or electronic billing and payment adoption. At its core, online adoption is the process of transitioning your users from paper invoices and payments to an electronic counterpart. Adoption can also refer to any kind of customer self-service – this can mean enrolling in services like AutoPay, e-reminders, electronic copies of reports (ex. annual water quality reports), or paperless billing.
This might sound simple and straightforward but, for most billing organizations, achieving high rates of adoption can be challenging.
Last week, we shared some tried-and-true tips to help billing organizations increase adoption in our webinar, “Reaching Your Billing North Star: 4 Pro Tips to Increase Online Adoption.”
For anyone who missed out, we’re going to recap those four tips right now – plus, an inside look at some live polling data from the webinar participants themselves.
How do you measure adoption and why does it matter?
Before we dive into our pro tips, let’s explore how to measure adoption and why adoption even matters.
For most billing organizations, the most desirable state is for customers to go paperless and pay online. This provides the simplest, lowest cost collection for the biller that only requires servicing when a customer moves or changes payment remittance information (i.e. new credit card, new bank account).
Since most consumers who go paperless also pay online, e-payment adoption has become the most common measurement of electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) platform effectiveness.
Many organizations measure adoption by the average number of electronic payments made divided by the total number of bills issued. For example, if 10,000 bills/month are issued and 2,500/month are paid electronically, that would result in 25% e-payment adoption.
So, why are these adoption rates important?
Think of it like this: the more customers who use an online payment platform to pay bills, sign up for paperless billing, enroll in AutoPay, etc., the less time your staff spends on these tasks, and the more money you save.
Saving costs, reducing workloads, improving internal efficiencies – these are top tier business objectives, and they’re all achieved by driving online adoption.
That means that every billing organization’s ideal state is 100% paperless billing and 100% online payments.
Since there are so many benefits to be gained, we asked webinar attendees what they were hoping to achieve with improved adoption rates:
Poll: What are you hoping to achieve from higher online payment adoption?
- Decreased print/mail costs: 71%
- Fewer calls: 64%
- More on-time payments: 64%
- Increased environmentally friendly practices: 43%
- Less time spent on payment reconciliation: 36%
Far and away, the biggest goal is to decrease print and mail costs. This isn’t just a common goal, it’s one we’ve seen accomplished time and time again – for instance, Arlington Water Utilities saved $30K in annual print and mail costs after boosting online payment adoption with Invoice Cloud.
Now that we’ve covered why adoption is so critical to business success, let’s get into four ways you can boost adoption at your organization.
Tip 1. Design for customer engagement
The key to driving higher adoption rates is by improving customer engagement and the overall customer experience.
If your interface is designed for ease of use, it will be simple for customer to pay bills online or enroll in self-service options. And the simpler it is for customers to take these actions, the higher your rates of adoption will be in the long run.
There are a few simple ways to accomplish this:
- Enable simple, easy payments – By removing roadblocks like registration screens, you’re providing a hassle-free path for customers to adopt online payments.
- Provide omni-channel payment options – Providing a wide range of payment channels (i.e., pay by text, interactive voice response) allows customers to pay when and how they want, giving them more opportunities to choose a self-service route.
- Optimize every channel – Once you have multiple payment channels, however, you must make sure each one is optimized for the easiest user experience. Options like one-time checkout routes and post-payment confirmation screens that encourage payers to enroll in paperless billing or AutoPay can help accomplish this.
- Ease payer concerns about security – To ensure company compliance and ease customer concerns, it’s essential to select a payment solution with the highest levels of data security. If your customers can trust your payment platform, they will be more likely to adopt online payments.
Tip 2. Leverage customer communications
Depending on your industry, the billing process is often the most frequent touchpoint you have with customers. Unfortunately, most customers won't go looking for self-service options to enroll in – which is why the entire billing process should be designed to encourage customers to pay online and go paperless.
Here are a few tactics to consider:
- Drive action with clear “Pay Now” buttons or frequent opportunities to enroll in AutoPay or paperless billing.
- Use one-click payments to make online adoption too easy to pass up.
- Optimize offline channels, just like you would optimize your digital ones. Utilize messages on the outside of paper bills — known as teasers — suggesting that customers can "Pay Online and Go Paperless." Similarly, an insert accompanying a paper bill or a note on an e-bill can notify customers of pay by text or IVR options.
- Don’t assume one invoice reminder will drive customers to payment. Plan to send multiple invoice notifications – ideally across a few different channels.
Tip 3. Ongoing innovation
Locking into an online payment platform can seem daunting, especially when customer expectations are changing almost as quickly as modern technology. For your organization to keep pace, you need an online payment solution that can keep up, too.
The best way to do this without any additional work on your part is to invest in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) payment platform. True SaaS models deliver the latest functionality, updates, and security features, rolled out to all customers simultaneously.
We wanted to know if the webinar attendees felt disadvantaged by their current EBPP platform:
Poll: What is your current EBPP platform missing that’s preventing higher adoption rates?
- Ease of use (one-click pay, Pay Now buttons, etc.): 70%
- Multiple ways to pay (online, Pay By Text, etc.): 70%
- Paperless enrollment option: 40%
- Auto updating EBPP platform: 30%
- Autopay and scheduled payment options: 10%
- Nothing, our platform is excellent: 0%
- Level 1 PCI Compliance (safe and secure platform): 0%
Again, these poll results aren’t too surprising. In a recent customer survey, we found that a difficult-to-use payment platform was the number one reason customers chose not to adopt online payments. In that same survey, we found most respondents expected omni-channel payment options, so fewer ways to pay online could easily turn a customer off.
Tip 4. Set online adoption goals and launch a campaign
With the previous tips under your belt, our final piece of advice is an active one: determine your adoption goals and launch a marketing campaign to connect with payers.
First, set an internal goal – say you’re aiming for a 50% increase in paperless billing in 12 months.
Then utilize press releases, social media, emails, and local news outlets to announce the goal to your customer community. (Pro Tip: You may want to incentivize your goal by offering a small prize to customers who follow through.)
You can even establish a marketing calendar for activities that will drive adoption (i.e. sweepstakes, envelope teasers, email encouragement). This will help hold your team accountable and provide some structure for your campaign.
And, finally, keep biller management and customers informed on your progress with monthly updates. By actively driving to your adoption goals, you’re both positively impacting your organization and making life easier for customers – and it certainly doesn’t hurt to let those parties know the effectiveness of your campaign.
If you want to hear more about how to drive adoption at your organization, watch the full recording of this webinar here or download our free ebook, “The Value of Adoption,” below.