RARC-WP-15-006 – 02/09/2015
By now, it’s fairly common knowledge that digital communications has cut into First-Class Mail volumes. But does this necessarily mean people always prefer to communicate digitally? To find out, we looked at the trends and customer preferences for one particular mail segment – transactional mail, which consists primarily of household bills and payments.
We collaborated with the consulting firm InfoTrends to analyze 3 months’ worth of customer billing data from a major U.S. utility. We also jointly interviewed executives who manage bill delivery and payment processing to help determine how the utility’s delivery-and-payment costs and customer preferences compare with those at other utilities and even in other industries.
Our new white paper, Will the Check Be in the Mail? An Examination of Paper and Electronic Transactional Mail, details how we found that despite a clear preference to pay bills online, 91 percent of customers prefer receiving their bills by mail. Even among the utility’s newest customers — those expected to be more digitally savvy — an average of 89 percent opted to have their bills mailed to them, though, like the others, most preferred paying online.
People like having a physical mailpiece as a reminder to pay and as a record-keeping tool. The executives interviewed said this is consistent with what they’ve been seeing and hearing. It’s also consistent with one thing consumers almost everywhere have made clear: they want choices in just about everything, including bill delivery and payment. In addition to being good news for the near-future of transactional mail, our findings suggest that a company offering a variety of bill delivery and payment options can help keep customers happy. And as the executives noted, while costs are always a concern, including billing and payment costs, customer satisfaction is often equally important, if not more.