Answer this question: Think about the last bill you received. Did you go over it with a fine-toothed comb to understand what you were paying for and why? Or did you simply do a quick scan of the balance to validate that it seemed right?
If you chose the latter, then you’re probably from the millennial generation. A recent survey by Inlet asked U.S. consumers ages 18 to 24 about their bill paying preferences. It discovered that 32% don’t even review their itemized bill before paying it, which sounds terrible but actually indicates that two-thirds do review their bills prior to paying them.
So what does it say about bill paying today if one-third of millennials don’t review their bill? For one, it shows that electronic billing and payments are becoming more secure in many respects than paper billing. Also, a paper bill isn’t going to elicit the scrupulous attention from a tech-savvy millennial that it would from a pre-technology baby boomer or “greatest generationer” who were more conditioned to scrutinize their bills.
Despite millennials’ penchant for all things electronic, 23%, 18% and 15% still pay their utility, cable and cell phone bills, respectively, by paper check. It’s surprisingly higher than one would expect. But would probably be lower if all billers offered more appealing, secure and easy to navigate websites and mobile payment options.
There are strategies billers can employ to engage millennials and help them become more proactive in the bill paying process. Here are a few to consider:
Interactive Push Technology
We’re always moving at breakneck speed. We don’t want to be bothered by even the most minute of tasks, if we can help it. Push technology relieves us of the mundane, allowing customers to review bills and pay them without ever opening an envelope. Now, push e-bills can be sent to your email inbox, so you can pay it directly from an interactive PDF. Similarly, a monthly account balance can be sent to a customer’s mobile device via text message. The customer can quickly review their balance and text “PAY” using their credit card or checking account information on file.
Studies have shown that usability enhancements alone can make a huge difference. With our customers, we have documented 20-30 percent increases in online payments when we update the web user interface.
More Payment Choices
Customers are unique. Each has different preferences on how they like to manage daily or monthly tasks. Payments are no exception. Giving customers more ways to pay electronically will lead to increased adoption. Examples include scheduled AutoPayments, one-time, quick web payments (that don’t require a customer to have a password), text payments, email payments, and even kiosk payments. All will increase electronic payment adoption and ultimately, cost savings for your business.
Be proactive by delivering timely bill payment reminders to your customers by phone call, text message, or email. Our data shows that customers value such important account reminders. Even better, billers will see a dramatic 30+% reduction in late payments with just such a service.
Mobile Apps and Mobile Websites
Billers should embrace mobile by making sure their websites are optimized for mobile users. Your customers shouldn’t have to “pinch and zoom” to use your website on their smartphone. Make it easy for them with responsive websites that render well on any device. Downloadable mobile apps for Android and Apple devices are also a desirable option for your mobile-only customers.
Billers can no longer stick to the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality. They need to keep pace with their customers’ preferences and the available technologies, particularly because demographics like millennials are influencing the way business is done. Offer them more improved features and more digital channels to make payments. You’ll keep them satisfied, engaged and more likely to pay on time. In turn, you’ll foster greater loyalty, be more efficient in your operations, and boost your bottom line.