Deliver a Great Online Payment Experience with these 3 Research Takeaways

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Rapidly changing customer expectations are nothing new. Customers expect your organization to keep up with their preferences and habits, all while delivering an outstanding experience. And if your organization has limited customer touchpoints, the online payment process can often make or break the customer experience.

While many organizations know they need to focus on the customer experience to remain competitive, it’s hard to know where to get started. A recent survey, however, delivers customer insights that help organizations understand payment preferences, trends, and general customer behaviors. The following are three key takeaways that organizations across industries can use to improve online payments and ultimately save time and resources.

1. Mobile and online payment portals need to be optimized

When asked which channels they have used to pay a bill in the last 12 months, approximately two-thirds of respondents said they had used online channels. Roughly the same number reported paying a bill with a mobile device.


Image Source: Invoice Cloud

When we break this down by age groups, we see that mobile devices are even more popular within particular demographics. For those respondents age 30-44, for instance, 76% reported making a mobile payment in the past 12 months.

How to use this data to improve online payments:
Since mobile and online channels are clearly growing in popularity when it comes to making payments, it’s critical to optimize these channels. Your organization can accomplish this by paying special attention to the user experience of your mobile and online channels.

Ask yourself (and your team): what is it like to pay a bill on our digital platforms?

Make sure your online and mobile payment platforms are straightforward and simple to navigate, even if it means walking through the payment process yourself to determine how easy (or difficult) the systems are to use.

2. Convenience and flexibility are key, but security is still a concern

Understanding which payment channels your customers are using is important. Perhaps even more important, though, is understanding why they are using those channels. For respondents who said online portals or mobile devices were their preferred payment channel, the most important reasons why were convenience and flexibility.


Image Source: Invoice Cloud

In contrast, for respondents who preferred non-digital payment channels, the most common reason why dealt with security. When asked which of the following statements best describes why online or mobile payments are not your preferred payment channel, 32% of respondents answered, “I am concerned about the security of my information.”

How to use this data to improve online payments:
By their nature, online and mobile payment routes are already convenient payment options. But one critical aspect of this convenience is presenting customers with omni-channel options.

Omni-channel means providing customers with as many ways to pay their bills as possible, while still retaining context across channels. Providing a variety of payment options is, obviously, critical – but we can’t forget that omni-channel routes are not effective unless every channel is designed for ease of use. The only way you can offer true omni-channel capabilities is by designing each channel to be simple and intuitive for the customer.

To ease security concerns, make this a top priority when selecting an online payment platform. One critical way to ensure the security of customer data is to select a true Software as a Service (SaaS) platform. By design, SaaS platforms can automatically roll out updates and security patches to all customers at the same time – so you never have to worry about being exposed when security standards or data regulations change.

3. Drive Customers to Self-Service at Every Opportunity

For billing organizations, increasing customer enrollments in self-serve options like paperless billing and automatic payments is critical. These services are not only more convenient for customers, but they save your organization time and money. Unfortunately, results show that there is still a lot of work to be done to drive customers toward 100% self-service. Only 32% of respondents are enrolled in paperless billing for all recurring bills, and 13% are enrolled in automatic payments (AutoPay).


Image Source: Invoice Cloud

When respondents who selected ‘None’ for paperless billing were asked why they’ve declined to enroll, 56% said they prefer to receive a paper bill. The next most common response was, “I’m concerned about missing a bill notification.” For respondents who are not enrolled in AutoPay for any bills, 79% of respondents said that they prefer to make manual payments each month.

How to use this data to improve online payments:
These survey results reveal an opportunity to leverage intelligent communications to ease concerns and convert customers to self-service.
First, make sure the two major concerns around paperless – missing a bill notification and being unsure how to enroll – are addressed internally. Confirm that your online payment system can distribute payment reminders across multiple channels and that your paperless enrollment process is quick and simple.

Then use clear messaging to engage payers and confront their worries. Include a note on paper bills that explains how to sign up for paperless billing and allow customers to sign up at any point throughout the payment process. Let customers know that they will receive up-to-date, targeted bill notifications with clear instructions on how to pay.

To increase AutoPay enrollment at your organization, focus on lowering barriers and removing obstacles. Start by making AutoPay enrollment as simple as possible. For the customers, signup up should be as simple as checking a box and choosing a payment method.

Just like with paperless billing, you’ll then need to use consistent communications to make the presence of AutoPay as an option very obvious. Promote this self-service route and its simple enrollment across all your payment channels to boost AutoPay adoption.

The results of this research show that, while online and mobile payment channels are growing in popularity, organizations need to make sure these channels are fully optimized to drive real results. To read the full research results and additional key takeaways, download the report on the State of Online Payments.

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