September 15, 2020

Strategies to Help Boost Your Paperless Adoption Rate

A lot of time and money is invested in creating user-friendly e-billing solutions. When paperless adoption rates remain low after all the effort, frustration can mount. That’s understandable. Nobody likes to expend a lot of resources and have little to show for it. While there is no secret formula for success, the creation of a cohesive adoption strategy and customer communication plan definitely increases the chances of a positive outcome. Changing behavior is hard, but the strategies outlined below are definitely a good jumping off point for billers looking to boost paperless adoption rates.

Try Auto-Enrolling Customers

Some billers may shy away from auto-enrollment for fear it will not sit well with their customers. This is definitely something to keep in mind before moving forward. Though, according to Chartwell’s 2018 Residential Consumer Survey, 77% of consumers are either ok with or neutral toward auto-enrollment in e-billing. For those considering this strategy, there are some best practices. Start with sending out a notification to customers informing them that they have been selected to be enrolled in e-billing and they will no longer be receiving paper bills. At this time, it’s crucial to frequently communicate with your customers about the main features and benefits of e-billing, like ease of paying bills, handy payment reminders, convenient access to bill history, enhanced privacy, security, and overall convenience. This will help get them onboard early.

On top of being open to auto-enrollment, 73% of consumers say they’re interested in bill pay reminders and 41% of consumers say email reminders would increase the likelihood of them going paperless.¹ With that in mind, ensuring you send these reminders out will increase satisfaction and will likely reduce complaints made from auto-enrolled customers. This strategy definitely has the potential to lead to high paperless adoption rates, but it can also be interpreted as an intrusive way to enroll customers in e-billing and can backfire if not done properly. It is therefore important for billers to be aware that some customers may be upset with this approach, especially the 23% of customers who are not ok with being auto-enrolled into e-bills. Billers need to tread lightly with those customers as they may perceive this as a heavy handed way to force them to adopt e-billing, perhaps saving this strategy for customer segments more likely to get onboard.

Launch a Pilot or Trial Program

One of the biggest barriers to increasing the adoption of new payment technology is awareness. Billers can overcome this obstacle by initiating a trial period. This strategy involves billers enrolling their customers for e-bills for a specific period, like three months. At this time, customers would still receive their paper bills but at the end of the three months they have to choose which option they prefer. Pilot programs are a great way for billers to build consumer knowledge and comfort with the service, which helps motivate more consumers to adopt e-bills and even encourage existing e-bill recipients to go entirely paperless.² Additionally, it’s always good to start with customers who already engage with your organization digitally.

Raise Awareness Through Marketing Programs

When developing a marketing program, focus on answering the question that is always top of mind for customers – what’s in it for me? You can do this by highlighting how e-billing benefits them through its convenience, speed, and safety. By including information on the positive environmental impact of paperless billing, you also appeal to consumers looking to make green choices. 

Another way to increase awareness is by closing knowledge gaps and debunking common misperceptions. For instance, the top three reasons customers are still stuck on paper are:

    • 33% think it’s easier to review
    • 29% find paper bills an effective reminder to pay
    • 21% worry they will miss paying digital bills³

Billers must address these head on by creating customized messaging for each customer segment. For those who believe a paper bill is easier to review or like to use them for record keeping, messaging should emphasize that an e-bill is typically identical to their paper bill. Customers worried about missing payments or needing a payment reminder can be told about convenient tools like reminder alerts and auto pay. Those who take the steps to truly understand their customers’ wants, needs, and concerns and then address those in their marketing messaging will increase the chances of their campaign being a success.

Be Aware That COVID-19 May Reduce Paperless Adoption Barriers 

The current requirements to practice social distancing coupled with recommendations to stay home as much as possible presents a unique opportunity for utilities to push paperless adoption. Many customers are looking to switch up regular routines and ways of doing things in order to stay safe and help prevent the spread of the virus so the timing to start e-billing marketing campaigns is fitting. As well as communicating the traditional benefits of e-bill, billers can emphasize the additional convenience of not having to worry about opening mail or making the extra trip to the mailbox in the midst of the public health crisis and many stay-at-home orders.4

 The key here for utilities is to find the balance between effective marketing and being conscientious of customer and public perceptions to avoid being characterized as attempting to profit from the crisis at hand.

Changing Behavior One Customer at a Time

Billers can choose the strategy that works best for them, but educating customers and raising awareness of the benefits of e-billing is definitely a good starting point. Don’t expect results right away. Patience is key and change takes time so billers need to commit to a long-term strategy if they want to build e-bill adoption.



  1. Expectations & Experiences: Consumer Payments, Fiserv, 2018.
  2.  Billing and Payment: Customer E-Bill Adoption Sees Strong Growth, Chartwell, 2020.
  3. KUBRA Billing and Payment Report, 2020.
  4. Billing and Payment: Customer E-Bill Adoption Sees Strong Growth, Chartwell, 2020.