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Online Billing: are service providers at risk of losing touch with customers?

From the Knowledge Centre

Our new consumer research report reveals that one in three customers are disengaged with businesses due to the growing prevalence of online billing...

Our new consumer research, via a nationally representative survey of 1,000 UK households, has revealed that the growing prevalence of online billing is putting service providers and businesses at risk of losing touch with their customers. One in three people we surveyed stated that they'd become more distant from their bills as a result of online billing. A worrying statistic considering that 70% of those surveyed prefer digital methods of bill communication, and a third said that online is the only method by which they want to receive their bills.

Are customers becoming detached from what they're paying?
Whilst online billing has clear advantages, its growing use is resulting in more instances of customers becoming detached from what they're paying for everyday services:

  • More than 1 in 10 stated that online billing has made them less aware of what they pay each billing period;
  • 17% only notice the bill amount if it is higher than they had expected;
  • Only one third of those surveyed said they read every bill in full;
  • And, for 27 of customers, bills are the only method of communication they have with their service provider.

A breakdown in communication?
In addition, customers are not entirely happy with the levels of communication from service providers:

  • 1 in 10 would prefer contact to be more regular;
  • 27% would like to receive pre bill alerts to warn them of higher than usual bills;
  • Only 9% said they'd received such useful alerts in the past.

It's therefore important that businesses seek out opportunities to engage and communicate with customers in a more proactive and open manner before they become invisible to their customers in an increasingly competitive market.

"It's clear that a large proportion of customers favour online billing, however this mustn't become a reason for businesses to lose that all-important contact with their customers. As more and more customers switch to online billing, service providers must find opportunities to engage with them so that they're not at risk of becoming invisible."

Nigel Baker, managing director - Echo Managed Services

Of course, at the same time, it is important to recognise the irritation that can be caused by unwanted contacts. It is a difficult balance to strike, but by tracking the bill payer's online behaviour, it is possible to carefully tailor your approach and ensure that each customer is kept informed when relevant and required and at a frequency that suits them. In addition, proactive communication can help prevent the escalation of potential issues as well as assisting to mitigate instances of avoidable debt - such as those that occur as a result of bill forgetfulness, for example.


Suggested Further Reading

Knowledge Centre: Research

The Secrets of Better Billing

Knowledge Centre: News

Protest debt on the rise in the UK

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