Bills Can Deliver More than Payment

Utilizing the valuable real estate found on your transactional communications could reap big rewards. Let’s face it, no one looks forward to receiving bills, but your customers do expect them. These essential communications provide your business with a captive audience – and many businesses aren’t taking full advantage of the value these documents provide. Taking into consideration what your customers want in regards to bills and other transactional communications could result not only happier customers but also increased business.

A recent Document webinar, entitled “Improving Bills and Statements for Better Customer Engagement” addressed the problems of communication overload. Citing Interdisciplinary Management Research 2012, 39% of B2C organizations send an email every 1-3 days to their most valuable customers – which is twice as many emails as they send to other customers. The result of stuffing inboxes is that a company’s most valuable customers – in the highest income brackets – end up becoming the most frequent unsubscribers.

IMR2012 found that with every email, 2% of customers opt out. About 4-5% silently opt-out by forwarding unread messages directly to the junk file. Their research also shows the top drivers causing opt-outs are frequency, permission and relevance.

Research firm InfoTrends released an informative report in 2013 entitled “The Future of Multi-Channel Transactional Communications in the US”. In compiling the data for this report, researchers surveyed representatives from 267 US businesses and 2,025 US residents on their opinions on communications, including mailers and bills.  As far as what businesses felt was the most important goal in their transactional communications strategy, 31.5% of the respondents pointed toward the need to provide targeted, personalized messaging.  Over 25% of the respondents, the second largest group of respondents stressed the importance of managing customer communications across the entire lifecycle.

When the study focused on the consumer experience, their responses mirrored the business side in that the largest percentage of customers (36.7%) wanted personalized content from the businesses they patronize. 34.6% of respondents wanted statements that were easier to understand.

Relevance also plays an important part in transactional communications, but research shows businesses and consumers aren’t exactly seeing eye-to-eye on the current state of customer communications. A recent study by Forester polled marketers and customers on questions of messaging relevance. 80% of marketers say that relevance is a key factor in customer communication, while 74% of consumers feel the marketing communications they receive are not relevant to them.

The webinar pointed out 4 obstacles to delivering the desired customer experience. The first is inflexibility. The second is disparate platforms (the synchronization of data and communication channels). According to a recent study by Forbes, the number of systems the average CIO has to manage is 247. The third obstacle is limited information and access to different silos – businesses need a central view of a customer to address relevant issues. The last is a lack of customer insight – real time info needs to be available to make an automated billing system work efficiently.

With targeted customers receiving an average of 157 emails per month, your message could be lost. When improving bills to be more relevant, clear and tailored more toward each consumer’s wants and needs, it’s important not to miss the opportunity that these essential communications provide. Research presented in the Document webinar showed that 97% of bills and statements received are opened and the average consumer spends 2-5 minutes reviewing them. Since customers expect their bills and know the frequency and acknowledge the relevance of the information, there’s no better place for you to market new products and reach out to your customers with other marketing messages. 

By listening to your customers and making the commitment to re-engineer your transactional communications strategy, you can achieve better customer engagement and retention.