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Customer pays utility bill using smartphone

Energy Utility Bills: The Paperless Advantage

A bill is just a bill — until the day it stops arriving at your customer’s doorstep and starts showing up in her inbox. When a bill becomes paperless, it’s time to celebrate — you’re one step closer to meeting your conversion and customer satisfaction goals. Not to mention, when customers go paperless, your operational costs go down and digital interactions go up.

Paperless billing means customers have the convenience of viewing their bills and managing their accounts anywhere at any time. According to a Fiserv household survey, 75% of customers say paperless billing helps them better manage their finances. It also means more convenience and less paper cluttering up their home, a major advantage for many customers.

For the energy utility, paperless billing means increased awareness of all digital messaging, allowing you to get closer to a seamless digital experience at every touchpoint. In addition, the option to go paperless tends to improve customer satisfaction. An impressive 46% of paperless billing customers say digital billing services increased their satisfaction with their biller.

Save trees, speed up payments

Regardless of industry, studies have found that customers often pay bills later when sent by mail compared to bills sent electronically, making paperless the preferred method of billing in the financial suite of most organizations.

One report noted more than 65% of customers who defaulted into a paperless bill chose to keep their bill paperless over the long term, suggesting a direct relationship between digital payment and paperless preference.

Generational differences in bill pay suggest a continued move towards paperless as well. Survey data shows that 56% of all bills are paid online via a biller, bank or third party. The same study found 78% of online bills paid by millennials are paid through billers’ websites, while only 39% of seniors pay online. This shift to digital is only becoming more apparent as generations of digital natives become bill recipients.

Environmental concerns also propel businesses to promote their paperless options more aggressively. Paper billing has an obvious ongoing and negative impact on the environment. One small Texas utility calculated that if their entire subscriber base went paperless, they could, on an annual basis:

  • Prevent 26,200 trees from being cut down
  • Avoid the equivalent of 1,700 households’ monthly energy use
  • Save 574,300 swimming pools full of water
  • Cut 1.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere.

While paperless is a value-add for both utilities and customers, campaigns around paperless billing are still relatively new and success rates vary depending on a variety of factors, including frequency, consistency, incentives, multi-channel support and the level of experience of those deploying them. Over the past two years, Questline has developed and successfully deployed a variety of different campaigns to great results.

Paperless campaign best practices

What best practices have we learned as we’ve developed our paperless communications program? What’s the best way to get customers to opt-in to paperless communications? Converting longstanding paper bill recipients into digital ones can seem daunting. Here are few things to prioritize as you consider a paperless campaign strategy for your energy utility.

  • Make it easy for customers. One extremely effective delivery option is a paperless billing series that includes easy enroll landing pages. Easy enroll pages are typically pre-populated with customer information, so it’s quick and simple for customers to confirm and sign up. The easier you make the sign-up process, with fewer clicks, the lower the abandonment rate for those well-meaning but distracted customers, and the higher the conversions.
  • Provide incentives. Sometimes, customers need a little encouragement to take an extra minute and consider the value of paperless enrollment. Incentives are great a way to drive interest and inspire action. When gift cards or sweepstakes are offered we’ve found on average there is a 28% higher click-to-open rate over benchmark rates.
  • Aim for omnichannel. One-on-one outreach is a strong start, but a seamless campaign across multiple customer touchpoints raises the rate of paperless conversions. You can incorporate paperless messaging into bill inserts, newsletters, digital ad placements, social media posts and even into the in-person customer experience to maximize the impact of the campaign.

Considering a paperless billing campaign? Learn how Questline’s solution connects with customers to maximize conversions.