The check may not be in the mail. Today's consumer uses an average of three different payment methods each month, from online to mobile to walk-in and yes, even the occasional check, according to the seventh annual Billing Household Survey from Fiserv. With today's abundance of options to pay and receive bills, consumers increasingly value choice – and choice leads to increased customer satisfaction.
Consumers are coming to expect multiple billing and payment options from billers of all types and sizes. A consumer may choose to pay his mortgage via his bank's bill pay site, send a check for a doctor's bill through the mail, and have his electric bill automatically billed to a debit card. He may also choose to receive his bills electronically at his bank or credit union versus getting a paper copy in the mail.
Whether or not these – and other – billing and payment options are available impacts how satisfied a consumer is with his or her biller. Forty-three percent of consumers said having multiple billing and payment options improves satisfaction with the biller. To further improve customer satisfaction and growth, the Billing Household Survey points to several additional billing and payment strategies.
Provide mobile bill pay. Mobile makes bill payment easy, fast and convenient, so it's not surprising that 60 percent of consumers said being able to pay with a mobile device increases their satisfaction with a biller. The number of mobile bill payers grew by 69 percent in 2014 and smartphone bill payers pay an average of two bills per month from their phone. Mobile bill pay is clearly a must-have option for billers.
Offer paperless e-bills. Whether to save time, postage, clutter or the environment, more and more consumers are going paperless. A quarter of all U.S. bills are now sent electronically in place of a paper bill, and Fiserv found that 46 percent of consumers say receiving paperless e-bills increases customer satisfaction.
Facilitate emergency and non-registered bill payments. When a payment is late or nearly late, consumers want and need multiple options for making urgent, same-day payments. Fifty-seven percent of consumers said they would be more satisfied with a biller if or when emergency payment options are made available, and 75 percent said those options strengthen their relationship with a biller. When asked about emergency bill payments made through a financial institution's online bill pay service, 52 percent of respondents said having such an emergency payment option would increase their satisfaction with their bank or credit union.
Promote bill pay reminders and alerts. The Billing Household Survey found that 43 million households are interested in setting up mobile bill pay due date alerts to help avoid late or missed payments. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said that digital bill pay reminders would enhance customer satisfaction, and also increase the likelihood of adopting e-bills.
As consumer bill payment behavior changes and technology evolves, the billing and payment experience remains strongly connected to satisfaction. Billers who meet the diverse needs of their customers with multiple options for billing and payments, along with extras such as same-day payment options and due date alerts, extend their reach and build stronger, more loyal relationships with customers across all channels.
Eric Leiserson is a senior research analyst for biller solutions at Brookfield-based Fiserv Inc.