It’s easier than ever to get things done whenever and wherever we want. Grocery and drug stores are equipped with self-checkout kiosks to expedite our shopping process, and restaurants are increasingly offering online and mobile ordering. Amazon makes it easy to buy an item with one-click purchases, and banks allow us to check and balance our accounts right from our phones.
These convenient check-out options are more widely known as “self-service,” and they are pivotal for the modern consumer. We’ve come to expect these self-serve options to help us complete daily tasks without any friction – and this expectation does not exclude the undesirable task of paying bills. In fact, self-service routes that are easy to find, enroll in, and utilize may be even more essential in the billing and collections space.
For billing organizations, self-service options usually include:
- Enrolling in automatic payments
- Registering for paperless billing
- Signing up for payment reminders
- Making payments online, on a mobile device, or over the phone through an automated system
And it’s not just the customer who wins when these self-service routes are easily accessible. Let’s look at a few of the major ways encouraging self-service adoption can be beneficial for billing organizations like yours.
1. Bridging the customer service gap
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a massive wave of job loss, leading to tight labor markets and a major increase in our nation’s quit rate. This lack of job placement, dubbed “The Great Resignation,” is said to be caused by a combination of low pay, lack of opportunities, and a feeling of being underappreciated in the workplace. And, according to a new survey by PwC, this issue will not be going away any time soon, with one in five Americans saying they plan to switch jobs within the next year.
Take the talent shortage we are seeing in the insurance industry, which is due to lack of interest in insurance careers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 400,000 insurance employees are expected to leave the industry within the next few years. Whether this is due to a swell in retirees or more people reconsidering their career path, this leaves insurers with major gaps in their frontline and back-office staff.
This reduced workforce is felt most acutely by customer service representatives who are still working at their organizations, whose time is significantly taken up with customer calls and in-person visits. In fact, government employees say they spend 10-20 hours per week fielding payment-related calls alone.
When done right, offering self-service can help level the playing field for billing organizations dealing with resignations and talent shortages. Empowering customers to receive bills and make payments without staff assistance allows automation to take care of menial tasks so employees can focus on higher priority projects, reducing burnout and fatigue. This equates to happier employees and even cost savings, as self-service can save organizations on print and mail costs.
2. Accelerating collections
While billing organizations can serve many functions, one of their main prerogatives is right in the name: billing customers for services and collecting what’s due. InvoiceCloud data found that this objective is most often sabotaged by forgetfulness – 60% of respondents claimed they have missed a bill payment because “they forgot.”
This is a great way to show how exactly driving customers to self-service can help avoid these late or delinquent payments and instead accelerate collections.
Targeted payment reminders are a valuable tool for decreasing late and delinquent payments. InvoiceCloud data shows that 1 in 4 bill payers surveyed would remember to make bill payments from just one email, text, or calendar reminder.
Those who sign up for AutoPay take this a step further by having their payment scheduled each month without having to think about it. Offering simple-to-use self-service payment options via online portals and mobile phones should help your organization see more on-time payments each month or cycle.
3. Curbing customer frustration by meeting expectations
Improving customer satisfaction isn’t a priority for all billers, but consider this – when a customer cannot find a way to pay a bill on their own, what do they do next? You guessed it, they call or visit their biller’s office. Oftentimes they are frustrated, making the interaction even more challenging for customer service staff.
While self-service can help significantly reduce call volumes, mailed-in payments, and customer frustrations, offering these options aren’t enough. Billers must ensure the path to self-service is easy to find, easy to sign up for, and easy to repeatedly find in the future to drive meaningful levels of adoption.
For organizations that do map to customer satisfaction goals or could risk losing customers due to dissatisfaction, frictionless self-service options are an easy way to thrill your customer base. As we discussed, today’s consumers expect complete ease when making payments, so providing similar experiences to what they’re used to (i.e., Amazon, online banking) will work in any biller’s favor.
How can your organization increase customer self-service?
If you wish more customers would utilize self-service options or if you are struggling with staffing shortages, increased service prices, or quickly evolving customer expectations, it may be time to reconsider how your organization is encouraging folks to make payments on their own.
For more information on how your organization can influence customers toward self-service, download a copy of our free eBook, “The Ultimate Guide to Transforming Customer Behavior with Frictionless Experiences,” below.