Banks can score with e-bills, provided the user experience is right

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Imagine using yesterday’s technology today; take, for instance, the Walkman — groundbreaking for its day as it was the first time we could listen to music untethered to the home or the car.

If you still own one, and it still works you could listen to music, but only the dozen or so songs that fit on cassette tape versus the virtually limitless number of songs we can now access via the cloud whether on our laptops, mobiles, tablets, or in our cars. Today's experience is far superior experience.

Digital transformation has ushered in a fundamental shift in the way we organize, collaborate, connect and contribute. What most of us grew up with was a hierarchical approach; top down, command and control, centralized. The world we live in now is very different as the pace of technological development is accelerating, creating new and unexpected customer interactions and expectations.
The need for instant gratification is not new, but technology has made that expectation possible and as a result, our patience has grown thinner. We hop in and out of an Uber assuming the payment is taken care of, for example.

We expect immediate access to the latest information on the status of an amount due, and instant feedback that our payment was processed. E-bills, electronic versions of paper bills that are delivered through biller, financial institution and third-party websites and mobile devices, give consumers the ability to make payments wherever, whenever, however.

Many consumers are worried about paying their bills on time — the most recent Experiences & Expectations: Consumer Payments quarterly consumer trends survey from Fiserv found that nearly 40% worry most about keeping track of due dates and late payments. Real-time payment delivery is important to 76% of consumers and 72% would be interested in receiving alerts that a bill is due to avoid late payments. Many consumers are living paycheck to paycheck.

Consumers continue to expect financial institutions and billers to provide multiple billing and payment options. While they increasingly look for mobile and tablet options, more than half of consumers still use more than three bill payment methods each month, according to the Consumer Payments survey.

When promoting e-bills, financial institutions should focus on just-in-time and just-in-case offerings so customers know they can rely on them to help manage their money-movement routines and help them find quick and easy solutions to their financial headaches. Where e-bills are offered, it is not always safe to assume customers are aware of this functionality; communicate how you can make their financial lives easier and more convenient from the moment they become customers.

Control, convenience and time savings are key value propositions when it comes to paying bills. Let your customers know you have the digital solutions to make it easier to stay in control. For millennials, if they can use their mobile devices to make bill pay even easier, you instantly have their attention.

There is a great deal more to e-bills than merely replacing paper bills with electronic versions. It should be a transformative experience enabling the digital transformation and digital engagement of the consumer, who they owe, and where they choose to interact. Just like the Walkman, the days of sitting at the kitchen table once a month to wade through bills are fading into memory — embracing the growing demand for more and easier-to-use payment channels will increase customer satisfaction in this new paradigm.

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