Poll: Late Payments, Increased CSR Calls Among Concerns in Wake of U.S. Postal Announcement
Recently, I blogged about the U.S. Postal Service plan to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, and the potential impact this may have on consumers, billers and financial institutions. In an effort to get more clarity about the potential impact, we surveyed a group of industry insiders at the NACHA Council for Electronic Billing and Payments (CEBP) event in Charleston, S.C. on Feb. 20, 2013.
The survey questions focused on potential impacts to bill statement and delivery practices, implications for businesses that distribute bills and collect payments, and potential effects on consumer billing and payments behavior. We received responses from 81 attendees representing biller businesses, such as utilities and telecommunications companies, as well as financial institutions, technology providers and industry consultants.
Here's a high level summary of the results:
- Respondents anticipate that billers and financial institutions will experience moderate, though adverse, impacts to their paper-based billing and payment systems as processing cycles are adjusted and kinks worked out over the short to medium-term (12 – 24 months).
- In terms of outgoing bill and statement distribution, a majority (59 percent) of surveyed respondents think billers and financial institutions will invest in more paperless electronic bill delivery marketing campaigns and channels, such as the delivery of electronic bills to financial institution websites.
- For incoming payments, approximately half of respondents feel the change may delay timing and consistency of bill payments, and 41 percent think it will result in more customer service calls about late payments.
- The survey showed an expectation for more late payment situations and increased utilization of expedited payment options by consumers. Almost half of the respondents expect an increase in the number of consumers who pay bills online. Only 14 percent of respondents think there would be no impact on consumer behavior.
The potential delay on incoming check payments is an area of concern for billers in particular, since cash flow and days sales outstanding are critical success factors for these businesses. When companies receive late payments and their call center volumes increase, it costs money and can impact customer satisfaction. To mitigate this risk, I believe billers should consider investing in consumer education about paperless electronic billing and payments, and other alternative payments channels such as mobile payment solutions. Promoting and facilitating electronic billing and payments should also yield a longer term return on investment as consumers enjoy the benefits and convenience.
There are other document and operational processes businesses should consider and Chris Chronis, Director of Market Management for Output Solutions at Fiserv, has authored an excellent white paper that provides additional recommendations.