Who among us hasn’t called a biller to check on balances, payment due dates or to make a payment via phone? Typically, such calls happen at the last minute – perhaps when we realize a bill has come due or we suddenly remember that we forgot to pay a previous one. A majority of calls to billers are for these reasons.

In an age when laptops and mobile phones are ubiquitous, interactive voice response (IVR) continues to play an important role in successful bill-pay programs. IVR enables callers to receive real time information in a responsive manner. In addition to the aforementioned tasks, they can get last payment amount confirmations and make credit/debit card or eCheck payments. A good IVR system can enable customers to pay bills via a dedicated, toll-free line in less than 2 minutes.

IVR’s Role in Today’s Bill-Pay Program

On its own, IVR is an effective bill-pay tool. Combined with outbound notifications, it’s even more powerful in getting past due balances current. Customers can receive late payment reminders via email, text messages, and phone call. These proactive reminders have proven to be highly effective, reducing delinquencies by as much as 50% from the very first use on average. Customers like them as well. They prefer receiving a reminder phone call rather than being assessed a late fee or having their electric or water services turned off.

Ideally, you want a unified EBPP platform that includes both inbound IVR and outbound notifications, and one that’s fully hosted. It should be Level 1 PCI-compliant as well. Such a platform can provide numerous benefits to billers including:

  • Alleviating the burden of expensive hardware and software
  • Ensuring that security and compliance issues are met without your organization having to assume accordance
  • Reducing customer service calls
  • Boosting customer service response without hiring additional staff, since you can reach more customers (outbound notifications) and handle more calls and accept more payments faster (IVR)
  • Improving customer satisfaction, while cutting delinquencies
  • Enabling staff to focus on core capabilities and address more complex customer service issues

Billers must recognize that the best way to serve customers is to ensure that they have a good balance between bill-pay options. Not only do they improve response times and your cash flow, but also reinforce your commitment to customer service.

Phone Payments Aren’t Going Away Anytime Soon

While mobile appears to be the preferred method for handling bills today, not all are fully on board with it yet. Since we last reported on IVR usage back on February 18, 2013, our customer data shows that IVR usage has remained steady above 6% of total payments.

Make sure those customers (and their payments) don’t get lost in your push to go mobile. IVR and outbound notifications can be your best bill collectors.