In light of the pandemic, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been facing its own crisis. In late December 2020, only 38 percent of non-local first-class mail arrived on time, compared with 92 percent during the same time period in 2019. While mail delays may be considered a minor inconvenience for some consumers who receive late-arriving packages, there can be serious implications for those who rely on traditional mail to receive and pay their bills each month.
In fact, with the increased volume of mail that the USPS is responsible for today, delayed mail delivery has become a major issue in the U.S. — one that billers must address head-on. Mail delays not only affect the receipt of paper bills, but can also impact when billers receive payments — both of which can lead to unnecessary late fees for the consumer, unnecessary customer service calls and decreased customer satisfaction.
Given that consumers are more attached to their smartphones and more aware of their budgets these days (not to mention the fact that notifications and bill payments through the mail are becoming more unreliable), one thing is clear: it’s essential for billers to offer and promote digital payment options through a multi-channel communications approach.
Drivers of the digital payments evolution
Other factors are also driving digital (particularly mobile) payment options. For one, digital payment options offer consumers more seamless experiences with their billers, as channels like mobile wallets allow for near-real-time transactions — secure, convenient payments that help support increased customer satisfaction and prevent late fees.
Consumers are more digitally savvy than ever before, and quicker to adopt digital payments. According to the ACI Speedpay Pulse, more than three in four consumers prefer digital payments including website, phone, mobile app and mobile wallet options, with mobile wallet payments in higher demand among younger consumers (aged 18-34). Nearly half of this age group have paid a bill through a mobile wallet. What’s more, older consumers are also starting to adopt the technology, with 16.7 percent of those ages 52-71 currently using mobile wallets — an increase from last year.
So, while some consumers still prefer more traditional channels like mail, the majority are looking for new technologies like mobile wallets to seamlessly pay their bills — but they need billers to help guide the way.
Making the moves towards mobile payments
Billers that are new to implementing mobile payment options (or those that already offer them but are not seeing widespread adoption) can convert more of the traditionalists to mobile payments through some simple educational communication efforts — highlighting why mobile payments are the way to go, and how they can begin adopting these convenient approaches.
For billers hoping to improve customer communications, here are a few steps to ensure your messages resonate:
- Empathize with consumers’ unique circumstances. Many consumers are uncertain about their financial future as a result of the pandemic. Acknowledge these difficult times, and share useful information about digital and mobile options that may offer solutions to their challenges.
- Explain all of your digital offerings. Consider all audiences, as some customers might prefer digital and mobile payment options, but aren’t even aware they exist. Provide a baseline of information that explains the options, their benefits and the ease with which they can be adopted so customers are aware of all the solutions you offer.
- Remove barriers for the tech-challenged. Consider additional marketing campaigns targeted at those who currently make payments through the mail to make things easy for them to adopt new payment options. This could include information about digital options, as well as a scannable QR code to add a bill to the mobile wallet on a customer’s phone.
- Address security head-on. Make sure to not only reinforce that your company is safeguarding customers’ data, but also explain why this is a priority. Providing reassurance that customers’ security is a top concern will help them feel more confident in making the switch to digital and mobile payments.
The rise of digital payment options like mobile wallets is the future of bill payments. But as current events like the USPS mail delays accelerate the demand for digital solutions, billers need to be ready to provide and promote these payment options to their customers.
Click here to learn more about how mobile wallet solutions, like our ACI moBills™ platform, part of the ACI Speedpay® solution, can help you provide convenient, secure, seamless billing that streamlines payments, reduces paper bills and their associated costs, increases consumer satisfaction and — most importantly — addresses consumer demand.