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Increase Retention by Increasing Your Bill Pay Usage

December 13, 2011

If you think of bill pay only as table stakes in an increasingly self-service world, you’re missing out on a big opportunity. Growing your bill pay adoption is one of the best, most cost-effective ways to retain your customers and members – all while providing them with a greener, more convenient, more mobile alternative to check writing and snail mail.

Studies indicate that consumers who use an institution’s bill pay are less likely to switch institutions on a whim. Once they sign up, add accounts and start using the service, you gain “stickiness” and a level of loyalty that’s hard to replicate in other ways. As a result, retention goes up along with service penetration.

This is not to say that bill pay is an “if you build it, they will come” service. Increasing adoption does take some effort. But, with the right messaging and marketing approach, you can see results without spending a lot of money.

Segmenting and Targeting

It is possible to generate some response by putting a banner ad on your Internet banking landing page and branch signage on bill pay. But, a more effective approach goes beyond generic, blanket marketing. By segmenting your customer or member base, you can better target your messaging to specific types of individuals, in various channels, and increase response rates.

For example, Internet and mobile banking users are outstanding candidates for bill pay. These individuals may respond to a “convenience”-focused message. Let them know how easy it is to pay bills online or when they’re travelling via smartphone. Some of these individuals may be paying bills online already, but doing so by going from individual vendor site to site. Talk about the timesavings of going to one, secure place to pay all of these bills – and how easy it is to set up.

Your eStatement users might respond to a “green” message about the environmental benefits of bill pay, as well as the fact that they can save money on ever-increasing postage.

Don’t forget your more mature consumers, as well. With the consumerization of information technology, and the new affordability of everything from smartphones and tablets to PCs, people of all ages are now part of the connected world. For these individuals, focus on the fact that the service is free, easy to use, and highly secure.

The fact is, different people respond to different messages. The closer you match the message with the audience, the more interest you’ll get.

Communicate Consistently Across Multiple Channels

Because you’re promoting bill pay, it’s easy to assume that posting a banner, with the appropriate message for each segment, on your Internet banking site would be enough. But, it’s not. For the best results, choose multiple customer/member touch points, and reinforce the same message across each. If the user is in a hurry, he or she may miss the online message – or have an interest, but not have the time to act upon it.

If that same person goes through the drive-through a few days later and a teller reinforces the bill pay message, he or she may agree on the spot. If that person gets a follow-up e-mail with a click through to register, or even a postcard, the need to sign up for Bill Pay is less likely to be forgotten.

You also want to make it easy for your account holders to say “yes.” One institution wanted to grab its account holders’ attention when they logged onto Internet banking, so they created a pop-up menu that asked users if they wanted to sign up for bill pay, with “Yes,” “No,” or “Ask Me Again” options. By keeping things simple and putting the offer front-and-center, it dramatically increased adoption.

And, make sure you track your responses so you can see what messages are working and what kinds of account holders are signing up for the service. This information gives you more insight into your target audience so you can fine-tune your segmentation, and more clearly understand the type of message to which they respond.

Get Your Branch Personnel Involved

Your employees are always an essential part of any marketing plan, and they should be a key part of your bill pay campaign. Make sure you educate them on the service and give them the tools they need to answer questions – ranging from how it works to its security features.

Let your front-line staff know about your upcoming campaign, and provide Fact Cards, a list of Frequently Asked Questions and other materials to give them the confidence to talk about bill pay. Consider an employee promotion to reward those who sign up new bill pay users, and send weekly e-mail updates to track progress.

And most importantly, make sure your employees use your bill pay service. If they believe in the value, they will become excellent advocates.

Don’t Miss Out on an Opportunity

As the postal service increases stamp prices and reduces days of service, the use of bill pay will naturally increase. But, institutions have the opportunity to start seeing the loyalty and retention benefits that come from bill pay adoption today. The first step is a well-planned, targeted campaign to jumpstart adoption. The investment you make in promoting bill pay today will pay off in retention in years to come.

Author

Andy Lapp
Director, Product Marketing

Andy Lapp has been with D+H for seven years. In his current role as director of product marketing, Andy manages marketing activities for multiple D+H product lines, including core, business intelligence, branch automation, self-service, payments and enterprise content management solutions. He develops product positioning and messaging, plans go-to-market strategies for the successful launch of new products, creates marketing tools for use by sales and to maintain proper product branding to target markets.