The latest tech achievements, environmental movements, and online banking have made paperless billing a powerful trend. The ability to opt for receiving email notifications instead of physical bills gives consumers great freedom of choice. At the same time, financial institutions, utilities, telecommunications, and other services that bill both offline and online have faced a serious dilemma. What type of billing to focus on?
In fact, there is no way to support solely digital or physical bills. As a service provider, your task is to offer your consumers the most convenient mode of communication while staying regulatory compliant. Once customers have a clear mechanism of choice, they will tell you what they want.
A recent online survey shows that around three-quarters of people still prefer to receive bills by mail. Especially for such types of billing as medical bills (74%), property taxes (71%), motor vehicle renewals (69%), insurance (66%), and utilities (63%). This means that from 25 to 40% of consumers in these fields have switched to paperless billing.
To better understand the subtleties of paperless billing and how rendering as a service helps with digital bills, read about:
- What is paperless billing? Pros and cons of sending personal bills online
- Rendering as a service for effective billing
- Inkit’s direct mail automation and rendering as a service to bill online and offline
- Additional benefits of direct mail automation software, including triggered direct mail, cross-channel marketing campaigns, and more
What is Paperless Billing? Pros and Cons of Sending Personal Bills Online
Paperless billing is the main alternative to traditional print bills used by banks, insurance companies, utilities, telecommunications, and other service providers that regularly charge consumers. Clients receive an electronic version of their bills instead of traditional mail to quickly process it via online banking. They are given the same time to complete the payment and are bound by the same obligations regardless of the mode of communication.
But before you ditch traditional paper bills and convince your consumers to go paperless, there are some pros and cons to consider:
Paperless Billing Pros:
- Ecologically friendly. Digital marketing and billing reduce the waste of natural resources, especially paper. An average US citizen uses over 700 pounds of paper per year, the highest figure per capita in the world. Mail production and shipment also require some additional resources, such as water and gas, which is not the case with online mailing.
- Online billing perks. Trying to encourage paperless billing, some card issuers offer perks to consumers and companies that switch from print. They may also charge an additional fee for physical bills and cancel it for paperless billing.
- Reduced printing and mailing costs. Although sending direct mail is highly effective as one of the marketing channels, it’s more pricey than online documentation. Your company will save a part of its budget otherwise spent on mail production and delivery.
Paperless Billing Cons:
- Increased number of late payments. Digital bills are easy to miss or forget to handle. They may get lost among other emails, land in users’ spam folder, or just remain unnoticed. As a result, a consumer is charged a late fee, whereas a service provider will have disruptions in the billing cycle. In this respect, direct mail is a safer option since it has a 10 times higher response rate than emails.
- Too many passwords to remember. The more online services people use, the more passwords they have to create. Although making up a universal password for all services is a huge mistake, creating a custom login for every tool is a challenge. That’s why physical bills may be a great option to reduce the number of online services and receive critical information by mail.
- Possible frauds. When people receive physical mail, they are more likely to immediately check it and notice any discrepancies. The situation with emails is different. Consumers usually process the payment without carefully checking statements, which significantly increases the possibility of fraud.
Paperless billing is unlikely to fully substitute direct mail in the next following years. The two approaches will continue to exist side-by-side complementing each other. To make sure your digital and physical bills are accurate, uniform, and easy to generate, you need rendering as a service software. More about how it works below.
Rendering as a Service for Effective Billing
You should know that PDF is a generally supported format both for sending an email bill and physical billing. Without rendering as a service software, most companies will have trouble converting information from their database into a neat PDF bill ready for mailing. They will need to look for a third-party cloud rendering provider or invest in PDF renderer development, which is pricey and always strains resources.
But why is rendering so important for paying your bills?
Regardless of whether your company bills customers online or offline, you must have digital proof of every interaction. Spoiler alert! Rendering as a service provides it.
People will know they can request bills in any suitable format and promptly receive them within the expected time. This way, rendering as a service will improve your customer relationships and significantly reduce the percentage of late payments.
Besides, billing is a field with many limitations, which first of all pertain to billers. Paperless billing isn’t an exception. Companies are legally required to store different types of official documents for specific periods. The failure to do so results in serious legal consequences, as well as financial and reputational losses.
Rendering as a service allows companies to generate digital documents for mailing and record-keeping. Thus, it solves two main billing problems – ongoing communication with customers and regulatory compliance. Moreover, modern RaaS tools can also significantly reduce rendering time.
Inkit’s Direct Mail Automation and Rendering as a Service for Paperless or Offline Billing
Most companies providing billing services will need to support direct mail and paperless billing simultaneously. Consumers may anytime change their mode of billing or request a print copy of statements. Transition to paperless cannot be compulsory.
To cater to these market demands, Inkit offers a cloud rendering function both for offline and online billing. It renders personalized information into professional PDFs that can be further attached to emails or printed and mailed. This increases the flexibility of the biller and allows the company to quickly adapt to updated customers’ preferences. For example, if a customer decides to receive all their next bills by mail, you will already have the tool that enables you to do that. No need to find two separate solutions for rendering as a service and direct mail automation.
Besides, as a powerful API platform, Inkit allows users to integrate multiple tools within a single system. You can connect emails with direct mail, your database and CRM to automate all billing communications.
Additional Benefits of Direct Mail Automation: Triggered Direct Mail, Cross-Channel Marketing Campaigns, and More
Those who need more than rendering as a service should know that direct mail automation isn’t only about billing. Even though many institutions send mail pieces for official communication, mail marketing has a huge potential.
89% of insurance marketing teams and 68% of banks utilize direct mail to promote their services. They send postcards, credit offers, holiday greetings, relevant updates, reports, and other messages to stay in touch with consumers.
Therefore, when you send direct mail for billing purposes, you should never neglect its marketing benefits. In particular, Inkit allows you to:
- Run cross-channel campaigns. Connect Inkit with a marketing automation platform to synchronize all marketing channels with your billing cycle. For example, you can automatically send a thank you postcard to customers that process their payments in time.
- Launch triggered direct mail. Benefit from advanced direct mail automation to align the online activity of your customers with mailing. A click, subscription or opening an email could all be actions/events used as a trigger to start printing and delivery.
- Measure your marketing efforts. Run A/B testing to make sure automated direct mail campaigns have a meaningful effect before expanding your mailing audience. This will show you how to improve your tactile marketing and maximize the response rate.
- Enrich your customer data. Use Inkit’s data validation capabilities to clean and organize your customer data. This will make your marketing and billing communications more likely to hit the target.
Need rendering as a service for paperless billing or direct mail automation? Inkit can do both. Just get the demo to start now.