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You have been trying to get your customers to go paperless for how many years?

Getting customers to give up paper has been problematic for many companies for more than a decade. While a few boast paper suppression rates of 20% to 50+%, the vast majority fall well below this level, and for many, it only applies to certain document types.

Often, the only regular contact a company has with its customers is through paper. So, any paperless experience must be as good as, or better than, the paper one, which is where it gets tricky. With regular communications, a company can inexpensively share information, such as new products/services, sales, corporate messages, community updates, etc. These communications can build loyalty and improve the client/company relationship. After all, you don’t want to only communicate to your customers when things are bad.

When a customer volunteers to give up paper, they expect something in return—hopefully, a better experience. Customers are not stupid, and they are naturally skeptical. They know that the company is saving money and will logically ask, "What’s in it for me?" (Of course, they may not realize that the company also experiences better cash flow and more web traffic from a paperless customer, but we’ll keep that part a secret.)

Delivering on the Promise

The key to a successful migration of your customer base from paper to digital is convenience and a better user experience. This means companies must take a step back and look at the problem from the customer’s point of view, not just from the company's viewpoint.

Successful customer e-delivery solutions:
  • Require less time for the client to open and respond (pay, enroll, etc.), not more time
  • Keep documents simple and mimic the paper process as much as possible
  • Enable the customers to easily organize and keep copies
  • Provide simple reminders so actionable letters are not forgotten
  • Don’t require unique, complex usernames and passwords
Two approaches that can successfully deliver on the analog to digital promise are:

1. Delivering documents as a secure PDF to the recipient (rather than making them fetch the documents). This is simple, clear, and familiar to anyone who uses email today. There's nothing new to learn, no new documents to understand, and no fetching or phising risk.

2. Utilizing native mobile apps, like Apple Wallet and Google Pay, to receive bills and other documents. Much newer than email, it does require a small amount of behavioral change for consumers but not much in the way of learning, and wow, is it powerful. With Apple and Google (and many of the retailers) behind it, there is no stopping it. It’s very effective as a new channel to link businesses with their clients.

Both emailing a PDF and using mobile wallets have their advantages and target different consumer and business audiences. Combining these two delivery channels with a traditional web portal is the way to achieve industry-leading adoption and retention rates for electronic document delivery and e-billing. Saving money, improving cash flow, and providing the best customer experience is not for every company, but it should be.

Richard Rosen is the Chief Executive Officer of The RH Rosen Group. The RH Rosen Group works with clients to reduce costs and improve cash flow through paper reduction and process improvements. Contact him at RichR@RHRosenGroup.com.