On Seizing the (Micro)Moment: Billing & Payments in the Age of “Me”

Back in April 2015, Think With Google coined the term “micro-moments”, defined as “intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping that occur throughout the entire consumer journey.” In what they described as a game changing shift, consumers were increasingly turning to their phones for triggers like these:

  1. I want-to-know moments
  2. I want-to-go moments
  3. I want-to-do moments
  4. I want-to-buy moments

Having the world in our hands, Google explained, was turning us into a planet of content-drenched, hopefully politer Veruca Salts—consuming and consuming, while also expecting skip-the-line passes to whatever we need. We want what we want when we want it, and it better be right when we get it.  Because micro-moments are as much about expectation as they are about intent. The onus on brands, therefore, is to react in a timely and anticipatory fashion, lest we consumers are disappointed and charge on to the next available answer or solution. There are, after all, plenty of golden eggs to be had.

What does any of this have to do with billing and payments? A lot.

Though it may seem a stretch to associate desire with viewing or paying a bill (which may be better identified as a “have-to” moment), the lines between interest and obligation erode when satisfying these moments happens through the same channels. Functionally speaking, if you’re using your phone, how much difference should there be, really, between ordering a new stapler, requesting a car ride or paying your utilities bill? Each process should be intuitive, speedy and predictable. The inexorable progression of technology has made the world palm-sized and personalized. “If I have to pay this, I want to do it the way that’s easiest for me—just like I do everything else!”

In other words, it isn’t just a method of viewing a bill or making payment; it’s a way of operating. Convenience and autonomy rule all.

Time for the counterarguments:

  1. But not everyone relies on their phone in the same way!
  2. Some people still receive paper bills! And then pay electronically!
  3. We’re not all the same! (Right?)

Exactly right.

When it comes to transactional communications, the aim is to bridge the gap between paper and electronic moments, to allow the end user to receive and pay bills however and whenever they want, even if that way changes month to month. The channels should open and close like faucet valves, all leading to (and from) the same water source. Moreover, the consumers shouldn’t notice the mechanics on their respective journeys. Much like a quick search in your phone, the results should appear as if by magic—fast magic.

When a company does this successfully—when each consumer feels the “me-ness” of a solution—it cracks the door open to additional moments of connection. On the proper communications platform, a company can improve consumer relationships in ways that extend beyond a bill or a payment. It might be more accurate to say that they must do that.

A lot can happen in four years. Google called the moments “micro” then. What’s the next frontier? How much smaller can the world get if it already fits in my pocket? If you want to reach “me,” it’s best to live in the moment—and be ready for the next one.

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