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What Will the Bills of the Future Be Like?

We should each have a flying car by now, right? If we were in the future people predicted years ago, we’d be zipping through the clouds to work. That idea is still alive and well, but as it turns out, the cars got into a different cloud first. They’re in our phones, roaming around inside of apps on their way to pick us up. Technology isn’t linear; it stretches and morphs on its way to the future. The same principle applies to billing technology.

The cry is always the same: “Paper is obsolete! Right?” The truth is, we’re not quite there yet. Electronic billing has been around since the ’90s, and for every paperless friend who scoffs at the idea that anyone would still receive an archaic hard copy, there are plenty more who still enjoy receiving paper bills in 2017, even if they ultimately pay online. (In fact, 21 million people change the way they pay their bills from one month to the next.*) What’s clear is that when it comes to transactional documents, there are many who want a mix of the past and the future, the paper and the cloud.

So, what’s next? When we developed the OSG Mobile App, we wanted to offer clients a tool that enhanced their billing and payment processes. Beyond the right-in-your-pocket ease it provides customers—many of whom use apps for a litany of other services anyway—the app also allows for interaction. It’s about functionality as much as it’s about convenience. Their customers don’t have to stare at static PDFs; there are functions that actually engage them. It also offers the client customization options that sets the company brand apart.

Most importantly, it leaves room for change. The app grows with the client, and with their customers. There’s no way to predict the future specifically, but leaving room for that growth is essential.

 

*Source: Eight Annual Billing Household Survey, Fiserv Inc., 2016

What Scares You?

In business, the idea of a failing customer communications program can be frightening.  In today’s fast-paced world, you only have a moment to get your customer’s attention and multiple mailings can be costly and end up turning customers off.

Research shows that regular and consistent customer communication programs help build loyalty and trust.  But in a world of seemingly infinite information, how can you create an effective program using integrated communications that engages customers along several key touchpoints?  Here are few options to ensure your program is comprehensive enough to meet your customer communication goals:

  • Dynamic Full Color Messaging Enhancing invoices with targeted, customized messaging can transform them into powerful marketing and communications tools during every billing cycle.  Up-sell and cross-sell products and services using the valuable real estate already available on your monthly invoices.
  • Envelope MessagingMaking a good first impression is one of the most important aspects of any communications campaign.  Immediately engage and capture your customer’s attention with full color messages on the outer envelope that will highlight and reinforce the messaging inside.
  • Electronic MessagingCreating branded email blasts and newsletters will help you utilize the customer data you already have and turn them into a powerful marketing tool.  Additionally, an online, dynamic electronic billing portal gives you the opportunity to engage your customers where they likely spend a majority of their time: online.
  • Lifecycle MarketingImplementing programs like welcome, win-back and new member programs, calendar inserts and other types of promotional programs are turn-key solutions that help you improve customer retention and take advantage of events throughout the year.

 

So, have no fear.  Dynamic, integrated and creative customer communications programs are easier to implement than you think.  Working with the an experienced provider, you can seamlessly integrate your billing processing into a communications program that helps capture attention, drive revenue, create customer loyalty and increase brand awareness.

 

 

OSG Streamlines and Improves Digital Customer Solutions

According to Pew Research Center, 64 percent of American adults own a smartphone as compared to 35 percent just five years ago.1 Gallup reports that almost three-quarters of Americans check their mobile phones at least once an hour.2 And the Gartner Group predicts that annual global sales of mobile phones are expected to reach 2.1 billion in 2018.3

It’s crystal clear that we live in a digitally-connected world. Today’s customers demand convenience and expect access to the latest products and services. Customers want and expect to be able to read their emails, view their bills and statements and pay on their terms—when and how they want. For them, billing is anytime, anywhere. As billers, it is incumbent upon each of us to be sure we are keeping up with the times and engaging our customers while fostering brand loyalty and increasing revenue.

OSG has a long history of being at the forefront of billing trends and that’s why we have watched and matched the growing billing landscape with forward-thinking solutions. We are always meeting the needs of today while keeping an eye towards the trends of tomorrow. We have dedicated a lot of resources in order to not only add new tools, but to strengthen existing, proven solutions. Here is an overview of both new digital products as well as upgrades to current services.

OSG Mobile AppSM

Last year we introduced you to our OSG Mobile App and the response from our customers has been overwhelming. The OSG Mobile App, a turn-key mobile platform designed to give customers a better user experience, was designed to enhance the mobile billing and payment process. Our customers have seen the research and know that today smartphone users are spending more time using mobile apps (89%) and prefer apps to mobile websites (85%).4 That’s why the OSG Mobile App is the right solution at the right time.

Next-Tech Wireless, a rural wireless provider and an OSG customer, recognized the need to offer its customers a mobile pay app and has already seen the benefits. After launching the OSG Mobile App, Corrina Hudsonpillar, Marketing and Public Relations Supervisor at Nex-Tech Wireless, shared, “Our customers have become accustomed to having endless information at their fingertips. With the insatiable appetite for information comes the demand for more apps in the marketplace, thus more data capabilities.”

OSG eVoiceSM

The newest digital offering is the addition of OSG eVoiceSM, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solution that can take your customer payment experience to the next level. Through a series of phone key selections and voice prompts, the customer can receive their current amount due and pay their bills without having to wait for a customer service representative to become available. The system can be personalized to your company’s standards and daily reports can be provided for analysis purposes allowing you to discover your peak and non-peak hours and pinpoint areas that can be improved for a better customer experience. OSG eVoice can be a cost-effective tool for your business while still delivering quality customer service and convenience to your customers at the same time.

Digital Upgrades

At OSG, we are always monitoring our products and services to ensure that we are providing our customers with the most up-to-date digital solutions. Recently the OSG electronic bill presentment and payment solutions received several important enhancements. One of the biggest is the ability to now add a new end-user to eBillSM and eInvoiceSM even before the first bill is processed by OSG. Now, an OSG customer who is using one of the OSG eBilling solutions can capture the momentum of signing up a new customer and get them enrolled in eBilling immediately. We’ve eliminated the wait and made the adoption seamless.

For those customers utilizing the OSG eInvoice model, your CSRs now have the ability to accept one-time payments (OTP) from your customers. OTP has been a valuable function, used by our eBill customers, since the inception of eBill. This is yet another way of providing you with options for your loyal customer base. We also added an Audit Trail report, so any payments accepted by CSRs can be historically tracked.

“Our digital product roadmap is focused on making billing and payments a much more convenient and intuitive experience, for both OSG customers and their bases,” said Steven Dubner, Senior Director of Products for OSG. “We want to continue to support our industries, so they can manage their core business, while OSG does the heavy lifting for invoicing, payments and customer communications. From a hybrid electronic billing model to consolidator financial institution solutions to mobile monetization opportunities, OSG plans on providing the tools that allow our customers to face the future.”

Sources: 1. Pew Research Center, U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015; 2. Gallup Survey, 2016; 3. Gartner Group, 2015; 4. Go-Globe June, 2015

 

What Frightens You?

The idea of a failing customer communications program can be frightening.  Business today moves at an accelerated pace.  You only have a moment to get your customer’s attention and multiple mailings can be costly and end up turning customers off.

Research shows that regular and consistent customer communication programs help build loyalty and trust.  But in a world of seemingly infinite information, how can you create an effective program using integrated communications that engages customers along several key touchpoints?  Here are few options to ensure your program is comprehensive enough to meet your customer communication goals:

  • Electronic MessagingCreating branded email blasts and newsletters will help you utilize the customer data you already have and turn them into a powerful marketing tool.  Additionally, an online, dynamic electronic billing portal gives you the opportunity to engage your customers where they likely spend a majority of their time: online.
  • Dynamic Full Color Messaging Enhancing invoices with targeted, customized messaging can transform them into powerful marketing and communications tools during every billing cycle.  Up-sell and cross-sell products and services using the valuable ‘real estate’ already available on your monthly invoices.
  • Lifecycle MarketingImplementing programs like scratch-off, welcome, win-back and new member programs, calendar inserts and other types of promotional programs are turn-key solutions that help you improve customer retention and take advantage of events throughout the year.
  • Envelope MessagingMaking a good first impression is one of the most important aspects of any communications campaign.  Immediately engage and capture your customer’s attention with full color messages on the outer envelope that will highlight and reinforce the messaging inside.

So, have no fear.  Dynamic, integrated and creative customer communications programs are easier to implement than you think.  Working with the an experienced provider, you can seamlessly integrate your billing processing into a communications program that helps capture attention, drive revenue, create customer loyalty and increase brand awareness.

 

The Future Exceeds Our Expectations

EBPP

Today is October 21, 2015. And our past has finally caught up with our future. Of course we’re referring to the 30th anniversary of the 1985 blockbuster “Back to the Future.” Remember those neat gadgets featured in the sequel when they visited 2015? Laceless shoes? Flying cars? Hoverboards? TV phones? Today we do have some of those inventions but could Marty McFly have predicted that the monthly ritual of paying bills at your kitchen table using a paper check and envelope would be replaced with a real-time online digital experience that could be done anytime, anywhere by simply hitting a few buttons on a mobile phone (not to mention tablet or computer)?

Just how much has the billing landscape changed? Today 49 percent of all bills paid in the U.S. are electronic.1 And the 80 percent of Americans between the ages of 18-49 who own smartphones2 pay an average of two bills a month on that phone. And the way we present bills to consumers is also changing. A quarter3 of all U.S. bills are now sent electronically in place of a paper bill and a recent survey1 found that 46 percent of consumers said receiving paperless e-bills increases customer satisfaction.

So for today’s customer, billing is anytime, anywhere. Customers want and expect to be able to read their emails, view their bills and statements and pay their bills on their terms—when and how they want. Are you offering that? Mobile bill pay is clearly a must-have option for billers. This presents you with the opportunity to offer your customers electronic bills, invoices and statements. But first, have you taken a look at how many of your customers receive both a print bill and an electronic bill? Do you know how many are paying bills at their financial institution’s online payment site?

The billing landscape is continuing to evolve. As billers, it’s our job to keep up and anticipate ways to improve the presentment and payment process. You don’t need to be a time traveler to figure that out.

Sources: 1) Seventh Annual Fiserv Household Billing Survey from Fiserv; 2) http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/chapter-one-a-portrait-of-smartphone-ownership; 3) PaymentsSource.com, Paythink, March 2015

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