When I look at client’s books, one expense that I almost always think is too high is what companies spend on mailings for billing and marketing. Every carrier has tight budgets these days and so it is important to get by with less. Anywhere you can cut back on an unnecessary expense goes straight to the bottom line. There are some fairly easy things that can cut down on the postage, supplies and labor that goes into the mailings you are doing today.
Go Paperless. One of the first questions I always ask is if a company has given their customers a chance to go paperless for billing. I know in my personal life that I have been able to go paperless for every monthly bill I get except my electric bill. And even they let me check my balance on-line. I am sure that a number of your customers now pay their bills by electronic checks and don’t return a payment in the envelope you provide for them.
So you need to give your customers the option of going paperless. Most companies who have done this have been able to cut down on the number of bills that they mail out by 50% – 70%. Some companies have carried this to an extreme and now charge extra for a paper bill as a further incentive for customers to go paperless.
Bank Debits / Credit Cards. You might also want to consider giving your customers the option to pay by bank debit or credit card as a way to get more of them to go paperless. This also improves your cash flow significantly. But it also means you have an extra obligation to keep their banking information very safe.
Typical credit card fees are around 3% of the bill, so take that cost into consideration when looking at this option. The credit card fee is a bargain compared to cost of mailing for a customer with a $50 bill. It’s not much of a bargain for a carrier paying for a DS3.
Portal. I recommended in an earlier blog that you create a portal so that customers can look up their current and past billing and payment history on-line and also can add or drop products. Such a portal makes it easier for customers to pay you electronically and will help you go paperless.
Simplify Your Products. I never miss a chance to say that you should simplify your product offering to make your billing easier. The easier the billing the easier it is to go paperless.
Marketing and Mailing
A lot of carriers still use mailings as their primary tool for marketing. What they fail to recognize is that there is a large percentage of their customers who never read bill stuffers. And so they end up spending a large portion of their marketing budget trying to sell to only a subset of their customers while another subset of customers never even gets their message.
I am surprised by the number of companies that don’t take the time to measure how successful their mailing campaigns are. It’s easy to tie specific mailings to offer codes so that you know where customers got your message.
I am not saying to not conduct mail campaigns, but also to email these to customers when possible. Emailing cuts down on postage and printed materials and means you can do more campaigns for the same money. And you will reach more customers.
Bill Stuffers and Newsletters. Companies often say that they don’t want to go paperless because they want to continue to send bill stuffers and newsletters to their customers. But bill stuffers and other marketing materials can all be sent to a lot of your customers electronically.
One thing to remember is that today a lot of people are looking at emails on smartphones. Your web page and any advertising materials need to be put on the web in both normal html and also in a phone-friendly format. Otherwise you will have ignored a percentage of your customers. Your bills, newsletters, portal and everything marketing related needs to be able to be seen at a decent size on a smartphone to be effective.