More than 81% of Americans own a smartphone, yet a large number of these consumers still receive their energy utility bill through snail mail. Rather than taking advantage of the latest digital technologies, they’re using older and less secure payment methods. Energy utility customers, particularly older generations, are accustomed to receiving paper bills — and old habits can be hard to break.
Is your energy utility challenged with converting less tech-savvy customers? Read on for the top 5 misconceptions of paperless billing and how to encourage hesitant customers to finally make the switch to e-Bills.
Breaking barriers for customers who are hesitant about paperless billing
The good news is that customers of all ages are receptive to paperless billing. According to a Utilities & Telecom Consumer Payments Insight Report, while 66% of customers receive bills by mail, only 48% prefer to receive them this way. This report also finds that 45% of customers prefer to pay via an online/digital payment service. In other words, customers might be used to paying their bills with checks and stamps for many years, but they are open to more convenient options.
The first step to converting less tech-savvy customers to paperless billing is acknowledging the barriers that hold them back. Once you accomplish this, then your energy utility can find the e-Bill benefits that counteract their concerns.
Misconception 1: Paperless Billing Isn’t Secure
Perhaps the biggest concern about paperless billing is payment security. Many customers are worried that their personal information could fall victim to scammers online. In your promotional campaign, reinforce the safety of paperless billing and how it is often more secure than dropping a check in the mail.
The reality is, paper statements are not free of fraud risk. Mail can be delivered to the incorrect address or intercepted into the wrong hands. To relieve customers’ anxieties, be sure to highlight the steps your energy utility takes to ensure customers’ personal information is protected.
Misconception 2: Paper Bills Remind Me to Pay
For many customers, paper bills are helpful reminders to ensure they pay their bill on time. Without a paper bill showing up in the mail each month, how will they remember to pay?
To break this barrier, highlight the convenience of text and email reminders. Unlike paper statements, customers don’t have to be at home to receive them. In fact, they can be on a beach vacation and receive a text reminder that their bill is due. With alerts sent straight to a customer’s smartphone, paperless billing actually provides more effective reminders than old-fashioned paper bills.
Misconception 3: I Won’t Have Billing Statements for My Records
Customers often keep their paper statements in a filing cabinet for easy access. They don’t realize that paperless billing is more convenient, allowing them to access up to 12 months of past bills from their computer or mobile device.
We recommend promoting paperless billing as a “virtual filing cabinet” that provides easy access to past bills. To help those who may need extra guidance, show your customers how they can save statements as a PDF. Nowadays, everyone is looking for ways to reduce paper clutter and simplify their lives. Promote the “less clutter, more convenience” benefit and how your customers won’t have to search through piles of paper to find old bills.
Misconception 4: Enrolling in Paperless Billing is Too Complicated
The e-Bill conversion process can be divided into two parts: Getting customers interested in going paperless and motivating them to follow through with enrollment. Many customers see enrolling in paperless billing as a long and complicated process. In your promotional campaigns, highlight the simplicity of enrollment and how fast customers can take advantage of the benefits. For example, use CTAs like “enroll in 30 seconds” or “you’re only one click away from e-Bill convenience.”
If you don’t have a simple enrollment process, we recommend trying one-click enrollment, which has been shown to boost conversions. For example, Duquesne Light Company, a Pittsburgh-based energy utility, utilized custom emails and a one-click enrollment landing page to enroll more than 38,000 customers in e-Bill over a seven-month promotion period. Customers are accustomed to fast, stress-free interactions from other brands they interact with — and they expect the same from your energy utility.
Misconception 5: I Have No Interest in Learning New Technology
To support less tech-savvy customers, we recommend having a script ready for call center representatives to clearly explain how to sign up for e-Bill through My Account or a mobile app. We also recommend including a video tutorial on your website and YouTube channel to walk customers through the e-Bill process, such as how to access electronic billing statements and make payments online.
Surprisingly, social media is a great platform to provide educational resources to your customers, especially older generations. According to Hootsuite data, 46% of Americans 65 and older use Facebook, and older adults are the fastest-growing demographic on the site. Take advantage of Facebook ads or develop an e-Bill social media campaign to reach this target audience.
Replace Old Habits with New e-Bill Options
While it can be a challenge to convert less tech-savvy customers to paperless billing, it’s not an impossible task. The key is understanding the reasons why your customers are hesitant to make the switch and creating marketing campaigns to dispel these concerns.
Paperless billing offers many benefits — the key is focusing on the ones that counteract common misconceptions. With the right messaging, your energy utility can help customers replace old habits with new ones.