Electronic billing can effectively reduce costs as long as there is a clear strategy of ensuring customer adoption.
This is the second part in the series of How to speed up your document processing!
Let’s define what e-billing isn’t! It’s not sending emails with attachments such as excel, word or PDF these are not considered e-bills.
E-billing is the electronic transmission of formatted data between a sender and receiver and requires that the format is machine readable like XML or UBL to be able to exchange data. This means that there has to be integration between the senders and receivers I.T. systems or the usage of a third party platform to connect sender and receiver.
How does e-billing reduce costs?
The whole point of e-billing is to reduce the costs associated with the manual intervention of shuffling paper and resolving missing or invalid data on the invoice.
E-billing has come along way in the last few years but still only represents a small percentage of the total numbers of invoices processed annually across Europe. Deutsche Bank research showed that 5% of the 30bn invoices processed in Europe in 2010 were electronic leaving 95% of invoice processing still very much a manual entry process which is time intensive, resource sensitive and prone to human errors.
One of the main reasons e-billing fails and the take up of a paperless solution is lacklustre is as a result of a Company’s e-billing adoption strategy.
The solution on offer can have excellent features, outstanding customer benefits, offer the promise to reduce costs which will benefit your bottom line but if your customers don’t want to adopt e-billing as a viable alternative to your paper bill then your e-billing offering will crash and burn and end up by being an additional cost and a buainess process that requires ongoing maintenance.
If you are serious about creating a paperless billing solution you must have a clear strategy that leads to the turning off of paper for your customers and be almost single-minded in the adoption of e-billing.
Ideally you want an immediate return on investment when you’ve made a conscious effort to move to an e-bill solution and a decrease in operational costs associated with producing, printing and distributing paper bills. Sadly, this is rarely the case.
Banks, Companies, Financial Institutions have made massive investments in their websites trying to drive customers to an electronic option but these sites are failing to drive customers to adopt an electronic option.
Because websites are forcing customers to come to a website portal with a request to register and then collect their invoices. Therein lies the problem.
There is a natural human resistance to have to make the time to go and collect a bill that has been emailed to them.
Why would you go and fetch a bill from a suppliers website? The onus is on the supplier to make it easy for the purchaser. Website collections requires a one off registration process, a user login and a password?
What happens next time when the user forgets the password? We are besieged with trying to remember passwords for this and that so make it easy for your clients.
Would you drive your car to your suppliers to collect an invoice for your company?
Customers don’t opt for web based presentment to collect their bills and web portals have not succeeded in driving customers to want to adopt an ebill instead customers prefer the convenience of receiving a bill in their inbox e- mail.
How do you ensure your e-billing strategy is a success?
- Find an advisor who is an independent expert on the the understanding of the billing outsource process
- Request an initial consultation to determine your current position and what you want to achieve
- Have a clear strategy for collecting email addresses
- Use your website to drive paperless billing
- Use messages on all your print based invoices, statements, remittances and envelopes
- Have a sign up process on your website, paper invoices and statements
- Use an email campaign for opt in and opt out to encourage the take up of e-bills
- Use any marketing collateral sent out to advise customers you are moving to paperless billing to drive the message home
- Use the process to demonstrate your company’s on-going commitment to being green
- If you use/have a call centre ensure staff are made aware to prompt customers of their email addresses and have a process of collecting/managing them
- Use IVR (interactive voice response) to prompt customers when they holding on the telephone
- Have an internal manager or champion of the e-billing process to ensure that the project is managed to its implementation