Best Practices Boost Bill Pay Adoption

Many consumers lack awareness and understanding of CUs’ electronic bill-pay services.

October 21, 2013
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Best practices to champion adoption

Research indicates the initial set-up process has a significant impact on whether members will embrace a credit union’s electronic billing and payment service.

Members may experience anxiety during their first interactions with bill pay, and the onboarding process may extend to several sessions or months as they build a sense of comfort and trust with the product and the steps involved.

A successful onboarding process addresses these potential barriers through tactics such as product design, user engagement, and ongoing communications.

Credit unions should consider implementing these best practices to grow electronic bill payment adoption:

Provide peace of mind. Electronic bill payment products should mirror members’ offline, paper bill-based processes to quickly build comfort and familiarity with the electronic bill payment service. A well-designed electronic routine will instill the same sense of accomplishment and assurance that members derive from their current bill payment processes.

Make electronic bill pay feel like a in. Some of the gamification techniques members encounter in many popular mobile apps and games can be incorporated into bill payment to engage new users. These could include a gradual introduction of features and functionality—letting users “unlock” advanced features after using basic features.

In the case of bill pay, this could mean showing a recurring payment option only after a user has paid that particular bill for several months in a row. These and other visually driven experiences such as progress bars can quickly build comfort and trust while giving users confidence to change their bill payment habits through the experience of a few early “wins” earned by trying the functionality.

Educate and reinforce bill-pay benefits with integrated lifecycle marketing. Credit unions should reinforce positive messages about bill pay at every member touch point through a program of lifecycle messaging. In such a program, members initially receive an email that describes bill-pay features and functionality based on how they have or have not already been using the service.

Messaging continues to be delivered throughout the user lifecycle, starting with support of bill payment onboarding and continuing to provide a gradual, responsive education that familiarizes members with electronic bill payment and its features.

In addition to online communications, having knowledgeable, engaged staff as advocates can be a powerful force in driving member adoption.

The Fiserv Consumer Trends Survey has shown that branch employees are a primary influence in many consumers’ decisions to try electronic bill payment. Nearly one quarter of Gen Y and Boomer respondents say a branch employee was the most influential source of information impacting their decision to enroll—more than any other single factor.

When working to drive awareness, staff education and engagement is a logical first step. It is surprising how many member-facing associates at credit unions have not used bill pay and do not know how it works.

Credit unions that want to grow member adoption and use of bill pay can improve the member onboarding process by educating and incentivizing their frontline associates.

Educational and promotional marketing is a next step, as many current and potential members do not understand the features and benefits of the bill-pay service. Marketing can encourage members to try or re-try the product.

Such internal and external marketing initiatives can work together to grow adoption and use.

Credit unions can spur adoption and drive increased use of bill pay by enhancing the onboarding process, by making bill-pay steps familiar and compelling, and by educating members about the service and its benefits.

Implementing these strategies and tactics will boost member satisfaction as credit unions help their members win the monthly battle of the bill payment.

DANIEL STEERE is Fiserv’s director of market & consumer intelligence.

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