Not Just Postage: E-Bill Use Stamps out Other Costs

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeremy Quittner

Banks and billers like to talk up how much they've saved in stamps after switching customers to e-statements and e-bills. They may actually be saving more in customer service costs.

People who sign up for electronic bill presentment through online banking are more than twice as likely as those who receive paper bills to use self-service channels, the vendor Fiserv Inc. says. Self-service channels, such as online and mobile banking, are cheaper for the bank to operate than call centers and branches.

Customers receiving electronic bills from their bank were 64% less likely to call a live customer service representative each month than those receiving paper bills, Fiserv, of Brookfield, Wis., says. Those receiving electronic bills from the biller were 39% less likely to call a representative than those receiving paper.

Instead, they used self-service channels such as online banking. Customers receiving e-bills from a bank made 1.57 self-service visits, compared with 1.37 visits for those getting bills directly from the website of Consolidated Edison Inc., which participated in a yearlong study Fiserv published Monday.

Banks can spend $4 for each call center call, says Nicole Sturgill, research director at TowerGroup.

Fiserv's findings resemble what some top banks have seen. "Our data shows that customers through our online and mobile banking services adopt an array of electronic, alert and information capabilities over time," says Adam Vancini, senior vice president in charge of money movement solutions for the Internet services group at Wells Fargo & Co. of San Francisco. As these customers interact more online, Wells Fargo tends to see other types of electronic engagement, including self-help, Vancini says. …