Do you change ebilling if your customer lacks an Internet connection?

November 24, 2011  |  Adoption, Electronic Invoicing, Payment

Everyone has an internet connection. That is a no brainer, right. Wrong! Actually there are a lot of people that don’t have internet access. At least according to the article “Millions are getting a worse deal simply because they don’t have access to the internet” we found on the UK website

What’s the deal here?

That was my first thought too, when we ran into this item. But reading through (highly recommend) we noticed some things that also apply to electronic invoicing, online billing. Let me give you the outline of the article:

  • Companies that are feeling the pinch of today’s credit crunch are looking for ways to cut their costs in tough economic times by trying to push more of us online.
  • These companies are offering the cheapest energy deals, top deals on savings rates and special phone offers to those prepared to use the web.
  • By encouraging customers online, firms can claim to be competitively priced while slashing their own staffing costs and closing branches.
  • People that don’t have access to a computer or are not comfortable giving away their personal details online (Pensioners and people living in rural areas) are being punished in two ways:
    1.  They can’t profit from the cheaper online “top deals” therefore subsidising the cheaper deals for computer customers
    2. They get punished because they need to receive paper bills because of lack of internet access.

Example: energy bills

Let’s take a look at an striking example in the article: “Millions are getting a worse deal simply because they don’t have access to the internet” .

  • Scottish Power’s cheapest online tariff costs £1,044 a year, while its standard bill (where customers can pay quarterly by cheque) costs £1,391. Difference: £ 345At npower, its cheapest online tariff will set you back £1,050 compared with £1,282 for its standard tariff. Difference: £ 232.
  • Any other difference? In both online subscriptions you get your bill online and have to pay online.
  • While research suggests that the savings for a power company from providing online billing amount to only between £10 and £20 a year in administration for every customer.
  • So the offline subscriber subsidize the online subscribers.

The point

So what’s you point? You might ask. The point is that even though e-invoicing, e-billling or online billing (pick your preferred phrase) can be cost saver, you might want to think some things through on your e-strategy:

  1. What kind of services/products do I provide?
  2. Where do I provide them?
  3. What are the characteristics of my customers?
  4. How dependant am I on the loyalty of my customers?
  5. Can/Will I impose my e-strategy on every customer?
  6. Am I allowed to do so?

In fact, the Scottish & Southern Energy, announced it will offer its cheapest deals to all customers, regardless of how they’re buying it, whether it’s online or via any other channel.

So whether it’s a standard (pay quarterly) bill, monthly direct debit or online, customers will all pay the same for a unit of energy.

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