Nothing is really ever “one size fits all.” The customer experience revolution makes this clearer every day. Innovations, like targeted ads, social media and streaming services, bring increased personalization to the brand-customer relationship, shifting the power to the hands of the customer.
Take Netflix, for example. The on-demand streaming entertainment giant uses a platform that is completely configurable and intelligent enough to make recommendations based on customer behavior. Nest is another great illustration of a consumer-focused product. The programmable, self-learning home device gives customers the power to control energy use throughout their home, all on one simple platform and from wherever they are.
Customization is becoming the norm – from entertainment to basic household needs. But, if the CX revolution is so powerful and pervasive, why are bills and statements still stuck in the past?
As of today, most of these monthly communications do nothing more than tell consumers what they owe, when to pay or what their assets are worth. Apart from online delivery, not much has changed in the last few decades.
Why can’t bills and statements be mutually beneficial for all parties?
Customers Want More
People spend a significant amount of time with their bills and statements. While a 2015 study by Microsoft found the average attention span of an American adult is less than eight seconds, Broadridge’s Consumer Trends Survey showed 97 percent of consumers spend at least one minute looking at their bills and statements each month. What’s even more striking is 55 percent of people surveyed said they spend 5-10 minutes reviewing their bills and statements. Among those who spend 10 minutes or more with their bill, 67 percent notice advertisements and 57 percent were motivated to sign up for a new service or purchase a product within a year based on those ads.
So, while bills and statements don’t deliver an ideal experience, consumers are spending a lot of time with them. Where do we go from here?
It’s time to take a hard look at how to better meet consumers’ expectations. Broadridge’s survey showed 39 percent of consumers would like to receive more personal information on their monthly bills – whether it is in the form of customized advertisements, tailored discounts or even suggestions on how to lower their next statement. And 64 percent of consumers are open to using a centralized digital hub – like Amazon Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote or online banking platforms – to access their statements and pay their bills. Imagine simply saying “Hey Google, pay my power bill” from the comfort of your own couch. This is the kind of seamless experience customers want and, quite frankly, deserve.
The Bill of the Future, Today
With the emergence of technologies like AI and machine learning, businesses have all the ingredients to create an experience that is truly engaging. To showcase what the future of bills and statements might look like, Broadridge teamed up with design firm Huge and a group of talented UX designers, engineers, storytellers and data scientists to envision the Future of Communications. Within just six weeks, teams combined new interfaces, behavioral science principles, and cutting-edge technologies to prototype a future where customers engage with brands in meaningful ways via innovative, customized communications platforms.
The designs challenged the way we currently think about these monthly touchpoints – and it elevated our thoughts about what they could become. This change in thinking could not come at a more opportune time. After all, every business is experiencing the industry-changing effects of what I’ve been calling a “disrupt or die” phase – and that includes companies that distribute bills and statements. Consumers demand more valuable content from brands; monthly bills and statements can finally serve a better purpose for businesses.
What’s in it for Businesses?
Reimagining bills and statements can greatly improve customer-brand interactions. Streamlining the experience through more efficient, customer-focused platforms allows businesses to reduce call center volume, process transactions faster, and personalize experiences so that products and services are tailored to the specific needs of individual consumers. In the end, brands that customize content for each customer have a much better chance of creating lasting brand loyalty than those companies that send out a deluge of randomized content that customers must labor through.
Providing a variety of options also speaks to the needs of today’s consumer. One of the most critical principles in the process of reimagining bills and statements is giving the consumer a choice over how and when these communications are delivered. People are far more open to additional information and tailored offerings when they possess the power to select the form of communication that best fits their lifestyle. This customization is not just a great way to cater to consumers, it enables the construction of a meaningful, long-lasting relationship between consumers and brands. After all, a widespread effort of personalizing branded communications demonstrates a commitment to servicing consumer needs, not just collecting a payment.
Isn’t it about time businesses realize bills and statements are one of their biggest missed opportunities? Isn’t it about time these interactions move from simply communicating a dollar value to communicating added value?
It’s time for bills and statements to finally focus on the customer – and only then they will become mutually beneficial for all parties.