4 Ways Your Billing Statement Can Do More for Your Business
When a company’s paper billing statement is poorly designed, they tend to find that out quickly. That is because a poorly designed paper statement can have complex wording, hard-to-find information and other flaws that increase calls to the contact center, which get a company’s attention.
Digital billing is a little different. For consumers who have gone paperless, their monthly bill is mostly out of sight, out of mind. So companies receive fewer billing calls originating from what customers saw on their online statements than their paper statements. Consumers read more of their direct mail—and read it for longer—than their digital messages, according to a Keypoint Intelligence survey.
The paper statement can become a call driver because it draws more attention than the e-statement and generates more customer action. But for these very same reasons, a properly designed paper bill can also create value.
Just like a confusing paper statement prompts customers to call and ask about their charges, an appealing statement inspires them to redeem a special offer they saw. A report by the Association of National Advertisers and Data & Marketing Association found that direct mail’s response rate is 5 to 9 times higher than email, paid search or social media.
CSG has been providing print-and-mail services for over 35 years, and we’ve seen companies turn their billing statements from a costly obligation into a growth asset. They did it by thinking about their bills differently.
YOUR STATEMENT IS A MARKETING ASSET
When companies set out to redesign their paper statements, they typically focus on simplifying them to contain billing calls. This is because calls are costly—and avoidable if the bill is clear.
Companies also tend to look for ways to reduce page counts or even suppress paper statements. This is because statement design tends to be the domain of the billing operations team, and for them, cost savings is the primary concern.
But companies should also be assessing their statement from a marketing perspective: how does this recurring touchpoint grow their revenue stream, and help cable and telco brands, for example, retain customers for 5, 10, 15 years so they aren’t dropping and swapping service providers once their two-year contract pricing expires?
In other words, do you have a billing statement that does more for your business than get it paid? Here are a few tips for generating more positive business results using the print statement.
1. Treat the Statement as Part of the Customer Journey
When we think of customer journeys, most of the touchpoints that come to mind are digital, like using the brand’s app or setting up an online account. But we can’t forget to map the monthly statement into these post-acquisition journeys. For the large portion of consumers who get theirs in the mail, that’s a touchpoint that occurs 12 times every year.
Mapping the print statement into the larger customer journey forces companies to ask this question: what do we want the customer to do next? Should they just keep paying their balance, month after month? Or add products or services to their plan? Or upgrade their service or equipment?
This is where journey orchestration and analytics can help determine the customer’s next best action, which informs the statement design and what messages it should include. This ensures your statement functions as an integrated, not isolated, customer touchpoint.
2. Audit the Statement’s Branding
As a high-impact piece customers receive each month, the printed statement can regularly reinforce your brand identity with those customers. But only if it does in fact follow your brand guidelines.
If your company treats the billing statement as an isolated touchpoint (i.e., not following the tip above), there’s a risk it won’t have elements updated when you rebrand. It could have outdated logos and offers, brand colors and other visual elements. But you should also ensure it also carries the brand voice: does your statement talk to customers with a different voice, or use different terminology, than your other customer-facing content such as website copy or promotional emails?
Conducting a brand audit of the statement is an important part of enhancing the billing experience and improving your brand’s stickiness with customers. You’ll find a great example of one described in this case study about ADT.
3. Personalize the Ads
Ad pages and promotional messages are a tried-and-true method for generating value with your printed statement. But you can further enhance your response rates and sales by personalizing those ads. It would seem obvious that addressing a customer by their name in a special offer would make it more likely to grab their attention, but companies don’t often have hard data to show it.
But that’s what a Tier-1 communications service operator got when they used CSG Message Manager. Using Message Manager to add personalization to an ad page, they discovered the personalized version had a 33 percent sales lift compared to the non-personalized version. You might be surprised how much that added touch can improve an ad’s results.
4. Test for Success
At some point, maximizing the impact of your printed statements means fine-tuning the design. Which design choices aren’t just driving down calls but also increasing response rates and sales lift from the promotional messages? You won’t know for sure unless you test those choices.
In the same Tier-1 operator case study linked above, the company used Message Manager to test not just personalization, but a simple graphic element, and the results surprised them. Addressing the customer by name, then adding the graphic of circling their name nearly tripled the sales lift.
In another example, ADT wanted to make sure a postcard they mailed to customers obtained the highest response rate possible, so they A/B tested two different design templates to find out. Once one was the clear winner, they were more confident they were getting the most bang for their buck on the print campaign.
Finding the optimal statement design can be a process, but the right tools for segmenting your mailing lists and tracking detailed KPIs can make that optimization process much easier.
With these and other methods, you can design your billing statements to create better customer engagement—and drive the kind of calls you actually want your customers to make after they’ve read their bill.