How Governments Can Go Green & Enhance Customer Service
Running a government agency involves making trade-offs to balance priorities. However, it’s possible to find win-win situations that can balance the needs of everyone.
With electronic billing (e-billing), for example, an agency can improve customer service and protect the environment at the same time. Better still, e-billing can also help your organization save money in the process.
What Is E-Billing and How Does It Work?
Electronic billing enables your agency to send digital invoices by email instead of paper-based statements via post. Recipients can then pay their bills electronically using a credit card, debit card, or authorized bank account (i.e., ACH or eCheck).
This approach offers numerous benefits over more traditional, paper-based billing systems.
E-Billing Saves Money
The sheer expense of processing, managing, and storing paper records is enormous — costing taxpayers millions of dollars every year. Here are some of the steps that go into sending and receiving bills by mail:
- Invoices are created, printed, and mailed. Much of this is done manually, which consumes valuable employee time, not to mention the cost of paper, envelopes, and postage.
- Recipients must then settle their invoices. Because this doesn’t always happen immediately, your team may have to follow up with reminders.
- If a person settles their debt by mailing back a check, staff must manually log that a payment was made in addition to processing that payment.
By avoiding manual, paper-based payment processing, e-billing can reduce both man hours spent on repetitive tasks and duplicative data entry. Electronic billing can also help reduce the cost of processing all that mail.
E-Billing Improves Customer Satisfaction
Paper invoicing has served the U.S. economy well, helping businesses connect with consumers all over the country. However, the growing popularity of electronic delivery channels makes it more difficult to ignore some of the inherent limitations of paper-based billing systems:
- As already discussed, businesses have less incentive to spend money on paper billing if cheaper and faster options are available.
- There is also a cost to consumers, who must manage, process, and store hard copies of every invoice sent in the mail. Worse still, they must be physically home to receive and pay bills.
This is inconvenient, even for consumers who always pay their bills on time. However, it also can be expensive if taking vacation means missing payments and getting charged late fees.
By contrast, electronic billing can dramatically improve customer service by guaranteeing:
- Less confusion because users don’t have to manage loose sheets of time-sensitive paper
- Faster feedback and communication since correspondence happens digitally via email and text
- Anytime, anywhere access (even if bill recipients are vacationing on the other side of the world)
- All of their information (i.e. account information) is available in one place
These benefits are especially pronounced among younger consumers who grew up with (or were born into) an internet-connected world.
- Generation X (1965 to 1980) and millennials (1981 to 2000) — two age groups that prefer paying at least 60 percent of their bills online.
- Generation Z (1996 to 2010) — most of whom were born into a world where Google, Apple, and Amazon already existed.
Many in Generation Z are still teenagers — 95 percent of whom have smartphones, and nearly half of whom report being online “constantly.” Whether to factor this age group into your billing decisions ultimately depends on what you sell. Keep in mind that Generation Z will account for nearly 40 percent of all U.S. consumers by 2020.
E-Billing Is Better for the Planet
Government agencies should lead by example. There’s no better way to demonstrate your commitment to the environment than by switching to electronic invoicing and allowing people to complete a bill payment online.
Once you do, there’s no need to consume ungodly amounts of resources such as paper or petrol. Your agency also won’t need to buy or maintain as much equipment. In addition to costing you money, every fax machine, photocopier, and printer in your organization carries its own carbon footprint.
Simply put, e-billing is better for your budget, your constituents, and the environment.
And when people opt-in to features like storing a preferred payment method and setting up recurring billing, there’s less need to chase delinquent bills or send reminders. Because everything is managed electronically, you can reduce human error and redundancy from the equation. Just imagine what your organization could do with all that extra time and money.
To learn about online payments with CityBase, schedule a free demo.
Also published on Medium.