Financial Literary Month: How Billers Can Keep Customers In-the-Know

Sara Phelps

April is Financial Literacy Month, which makes this a perfect time to reflect on a critical aspect of personal finances: bill payments. No one is exempt from monthly or annual bills (although some folks have more to consider than others), and how we handle these expenses plays a huge role in our financial stability. 

For billing organizations, financially literate customers help the bottom line in several ways. The better grasp customers have on their finances and their ideal bill payment options, the more likely billers will receive on-time payments. Not only does this encourage a regular flow of revenue, but it also saves time and resources that would have been spent chasing down delinquent payers. 

Let’s explore how billing organizations can encourage financial literacy and provide accessible payment options that empower their communities while helping their business thrive. 

Understanding How Customers Pay Bills 

InvoiceCloud, as a third-party service provider, works with our customers to understand their population, and the population can explain a lot about payment behavior. Why are customers choosing the payment methods they’re choosing? Why do they have certain preferences? By understanding the reasoning, you can overcome any obstacles to receiving timely payments or even issues with customer satisfaction. 

For example, we work with a utility provider that specializes in distressed utilities. Just through this simple fact, you understand that there are large communities that are underbanked. They don’t have access to digital payments, may not have access to the internet, and may not have access to banking, let alone bank cards. Understanding those demographics allows us to offer the utility an alternative for that community and that customer base of bill payers. 

At InvoiceCloud, we’re dedicated to providing payment options that can reach a wide variety of people — giving more customers a convenient way to pay their bills and more billing organizations an opportunity to meet customers where they are today 

Here are just a few of our product offerings that are available to all users and align with our mission to make bill payment as inclusive as possible.  

CheckFreePay  

CheckFreePay  is a financial services solution that allows customers to pay their bills in cash at popular retailers like Kroger and Walmart. When utilizing CheckFreePay, a customer simply brings their bill to a customer service representative at one of these retailers and pays the bill in cash. Behind the scenes, the payment processes digitally and the data is sent to InvoiceCloud where it’s matched against the customer’s invoice.  

PayPal  

Several years ago, InvoiceCloud began offering customers the ability to pay bills online with PayPal, Venmo, and pay later options like Pay in 4 and PayPal Credit. Together, InvoiceCloud and PayPal provide organizations with an innovative bill payment experience that can drive online payment adoption and assist customers at all levels of financial stability.  

PayPal also offers their users the ability to utilize a physical retailer such as Target to load their PayPal balance with cash at the Customer Service desk. Once they have their PayPal balance updated, they can make that digital payment they needed to pay off their bill balance. 

Cashless and mobile payment experiences  

Mobile devices have quickly become the most popular way to make payments. In fact, according to our most recent State of Online Payments report, mobile channels are the #1 most used and most preferred channel for bill payment. Of course, this could be due to the level of convenience mobile pay provides, but it could also be due to a lack of transportation for in-person payments or even a lack of access to other digital devices like laptops and computers. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2023, 97% of Americans own a cellular device, making this a widely accessible option. 

To accommodate the growing preference to pay via mobile, InvoiceCloud offers customers pay by text, a solution that allows organizations to accept payments via text message. Once enrolled in pay by text, customers can make payments via text in one of two ways: through an external link in a text that leads them to an online payment portal or directly within the text message without having to click an external link. 

Communicating Payment Options 

Simply put: If customers don’t know about the range of payment options available to them, they will not use them. They’ll stick to whatever inconvenient method they’ve always known, even if it’s not ideal for their financial situation or lifestyle. Whether your organization is trying to drive payers to your online system or make its customer base aware of accessible options like the ones listed above, communication is key. 

Much like payment channel preferences, understanding how your customer base prefers to receive communications is critical. However, if you do not have access to this intel, there are a few “catchall” ways to communicate payment methods to customers: 

  1. Hang signs in-office. Whether it’s near your drop box, kiosk, or service window, posting information about additional payment options is a great way to reach folks coming in to drop off a check in-person. Including a QR code on fliers that direct customers to digital payment options is a great way to drive adoption to those channels. 
  1. Mail a paper notification. Even if you’re trying to reduce paper usage, sending a one-time notice to customer about your myriad of bill payment options will likely drive digital adoption for the future. Again, consider including a QR code on the envelope or within the message. 
  1.  Send a text message, email, or voicemail. For those customers who have shared mobile numbers or email addresses, use these channels to share a link through which they can access your digital payment system, as well as information about your accessible methods. 

Honoring Financial Literacy Month 

Keeping your customer base informed and financially literate regarding their regular payments is a critical duty of billing organizations. This fosters trust between the business and its customer and guarantees your organization can keep running smoothly and provide the essential services your community relies upon. 

To learn more about the preferences of bill payers nationwide, get your free copy of our annual State of Online Payments report here. 

financial literacy month

Sara Phelps

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