Most of us don’t like to receive bills. It’s not just the negative impact to our bank accounts, but it’s also the experience. Bills are often impersonal, bland, lifeless. Many companies see the bill as only for collection purposes and miss out on the customer engagement power it provides.
I shared four tips for how to turn these must-send communications into engagement opportunities and potential revenue streams in a recent Inc. article, Every Cloud Has a Silver (or Even Gold) Lining.
1. Tailor it.
Whether the communication is via print or digital, adding customized information brings additional value to the consumer. For example, instead of a regional utility company simply providing the total owed for the electric bill, that company can show year-over-year electricity use and provide tips on how to save energy. Personalized content is becoming more important than ever before with more than a third of consumers demanding customized and more relevant information.
You can tailor content by segmenting clients into groups based upon demographic information. These initial segments plus information about customers’ relationships enable your company to begin to personalize the content. Over time, you will gather information about how consumers are using the communication which allows your business to migrate from segments into personalized communications. This continuous improvement process provides you with the opportunity to introduce new concepts and content.
2. Consider the Cloud.
Consider going a step further to deepen that relationship. Imagine if that same customized content from the utility company was also interactive, enabling consumers to click on certain data points and retrieve additional personalized information and compare/contrast energy usage at different points in the year. Leveraging the cloud allows businesses and consumers to interact in new and more meaningful ways. In addition, many consumers today use digital channels, such as Amazon, Dropbox and Evernote to store photos and important documents. Some consumers are now opting to receive their bills through these digital channels and your brand can create new opportunities with your consumers if you meet them where they already are in the cloud. Through digital delivery, you can reduce costs associated with invoicing (printing, postage, etc.) And, enabling customers to pay digitally can reduce payment float by 10 to 15 days.
3. Know Your Consumer.
In addition to knowing if and where your consumer is interacting in the cloud, such as via a digital channel, you can know exactly how your customer prefers to receive your bills. One of our clients made the mistake of eliminating print altogether when moving over to digital. To their surprise, customers who always paid on time were all of a sudden missing their payments. The company discovered that many customers wanted both print and digital copies of their bills. They would store the digital copy online, perhaps in a digital channel. They could interact with it and get more value, and then pay the bill online. But the print copy reminded them when to pay!
4. Don’t Leave Money on the Table.
Digital delivery of communications enables you to highlight services that provide added value and presents an opportunity to discuss these services and potentially upsell.
I challenge you to rethink your bills. Instead of viewing them as obligatory communications, imagine the bill as a way to boost your brand, reinforce the value of the relationship and provide customers with relevant products and offers. Your customers may not mind receiving bills as much once you unlock the power of this touchpoint.
The original article first appeared in Inc.