For billers, channel flexibility can boost loyalty

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Everyone has bills to pay. And when billers make safe fast and convenient payment options available, delivered where, when and how people need them, satisfaction and loyalty will follow.

The number of channels consumers use to pay their bills is unlikely to decrease anytime soon, so billers that are able to check off every bill payment channel will enjoy a competitive advantage. Being able to receive and pay bills via a smartphone is closely tied to consumer satisfaction, so a continued focus on the mobile experience is imperative. Finally, billers that offer same-day credit for bill payments at a biller’s site so that consumers can avoid late fees, as well as providing bill due alerts and reminders, will help consumers manage their finances with confidence and success.

Consumers desire a seamless experience regardless of where they interact with billers, and while this kind of accessibility and flexibility requires a lot from billers, it can pay off with higher customer satisfaction, lower attrition and ultimately an improved bottom line.
The technology evolution has created a growing expectation for immediate gratification among consumers, and patience has grown thinner. This is true for how we access our music or movies and for how we handle our finances – immediacy is king. This puts pressure on billers to deliver a customer experience that fits how people live their lives.

Findings from Fiserv Insights: Ninth Annual Consumer Billing Preference Survey show that speed and ease of use in receipt and payment of bills are key drivers of customer satisfaction. The survey examined American households’ billing and payment practices, preferences and attitudes. It was completed by more than 3,000 consumers, representative of U.S. checking account holders ages 21 and older who are responsible for paying household bills.

The major takeaway is the importance of a multichannel, immediate payment experience that provides actionable information to improve financial health. The average household uses 3.6 bill payment methods per month, and 19 percent of households change how they pay bills from month-to-month. The top five payment methods used in the month prior to completing the survey were the biller’s site (62 percent); auto-debit checking account (61 percent); check (46 percent); mobile phone (42 percent); and financial institution’s site (37 percent). Critically, the availability of a variety of ways to receive and pay bills would lead to greater satisfaction with a biller for 69 percent of households.

The number of people who use mobile bill payment grew 27 percent year-over-year as smartphone usage becomes increasingly ubiquitous in all aspects of our everyday lives. Choosing to pay bills on a mobile device is all about the experience being easy (43 percent), convenient (41 percent) and saving time (40 percent). That ease contributed to a 75 percent year-over-year increase in the number of bills consumers paid using mobile phones.

Many people struggle to manage their finances and don’t think money management is easy. Forty-six percent of households surveyed worry about not having enough money to pay bills; 39 percent are concerned about the possibility of late payments; and 19 percent say receiving, tracking and paying household bills is a high-effort activity. Sixty-three percent of consumers expect a way to make emergency payments, and 73 percent want to receive an alert that a bill is due. In many cases, providing a flexible, mobile experience for payments can address and alleviate these concerns.

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