April 03, 2013

Today, consumers expect and demand mobile capabilities from all of their service providers. In 2013 alone, consumers will pay an estimated $50 billion worth of bill payments with their mobile phones, and according to Aite Group, 18% of all consumers regularly pay at least one monthly bill through the mobile channel. In response insurance carriers are quickly rolling out mobile billing and payment solutions, but without a well-designed mobile bill pay suite, their customers can easily become frustrated and those companies run the risk of alienating them.

A comprehensive and seamless mobile bill payment experience can significantly increase the adoption of paperless billing and overall customer satisfaction. Here are the ten requirements that insurance providers must take into account to achieve breakthrough paperless billing and customer satisfaction:

1. Consistent Customer Experience Across All Payment Channels: Consumers tend to change the way they pay bills from month to month. In fact, Javelin Strategy & Research found that one-third of consumers regularly use a combination of channels, so it is critical for insurance providers to not only offer multiple payment channels (including iPhone App, Android App, text, mobile browser, web, IVR and CSR), but also maintain consistency across all of these channels through common technology.

2. Text & Email Notifications Throughout Billing Cycle: Javelin’s research also indicates that the number one reason that many consumers continue to receive paper bills is because it serves as a bill payment reminder. In response, insurers should incorporate convenient text and email notifications throughout the billing cycle. Notifications should alert customers the bill is due with a link to easily view, pay and suppress the paper bill. After the payment, customers should receive a confirmation that their payment has been made. For the rare instances when customers forget to pay, there should be a text and/or email reminder. With this reminder and the ease of texting back “PAY” to make their payment, customers will be confident they no longer need their paper bill as a reminder.

Auto Insurer IT Mobile Bill Pay

3. Flexible Notifications: To delight customers and raise paperless billing adoption, notifications need to be flexible. Insurers need the ability to control the timing of notifications and empower their customers with the same control. For instance, the insurer may send a notification two weeks before the bill is due, but the customer also establishes a reminder one day before the bill is due based on his or her preference.

4. Easy Access to the Entire Bill: In the same survey, Javelin found that 36% of consumers find paper statements convenient when reviewing their finances because they prefer to view the entire bill before making a payment. Insurance carriers should incorporate a link from text messages and emails to the full detailed bill within the mobile browser. Customers need to be able to view the current bill, as well as any historical bills, anytime, anywhere and from any devices. Otherwise, they will not turn off the paper bills.

5. Personalized User Experience: Again, insurers should have payment channels that automatically recognize a mobile browser and then optimize the experience with a unique interface (e.g. different optimized layouts for personal computer and mobile phone). If not, customers will find difficulty in navigating and paying bills, resulting in poor customer satisfaction and a continued reliance on paper statements.

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6. One Tap to Stop Paper Bill: To realize the resulting cost savings when customers cease paper billing, insurance companies should make it easy to opt in by incorporating a single button within the experience for customers to turn off paper billing – preferably during the payment process itself.

7. Funding Accounts from Other Channels: Consumers expect convenience with their mobile interactions. Insurers should implement payment channels that securely store previous payment information within the user profile (such as credit card numbers or bank account information) from other channels (web or mobile) so customers can quickly select their preferred method of payment without re-keying the full credit card or account information each time.

8. Seamless Integration with Other Payment Options: Integrating mobile bill pay with the rest of the payment system delivers consistent consumer experiences and efficient back-office operations. Imagine a customer who pays their bill at the insurer’s website from their personal computer one month, and then from their mobile phone the next. They have a better experience when they can use the same username/password, and see a consistent payment history regardless of which payment channel was used.

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9. Streamlined Operations: Operationally, all payment options should be seamlessly integrated into a single administrative tool so that the call center representatives do not need to learn a new system, the IT team does not need to send an account master file to another provider, and the treasury team does not need to reconcile an additional payment file each evening.

10. Keep Up With Rapid Changes: Finally, insurance companies must ensure that they have a program in place to keep up with the rapidly changing mobile ecosystem. Each year, new mobile devices and apps are released and insurers simply cannot implement a payment channel and expect it to support their customers’ mobile needs for several years. This requires a dedicated team or a partner payment solution provider to maintain the most up-to-date mobile billing and payment capabilities.

For insurers who have chosen to sit on the mobile sideline, the mobile revolution is passing them by. Today’s consumers want options, flexibility and ease-of-use in their billing and payment. If insurance carriers want to meet these demands, improve adoption of paper suppression, and successfully build an engaging channel for service and cross-selling, a comprehensive and seamless mobile bill payment experience is now a mission-critical business requirement.

About the Author: Sanjay Kumar is VP, product management and strategy at Online Resources Corporation, a provider of online financial services technology.