Increase in E-Bill Adoption Rate with Comprehensive “Green” Marketing Campaign

The Challenge: Encouraging Customers to Adopt Electronic Billing

Consolidated Edison Company of New York (Con Edison) is a regulated utility serving 3.2 million electric customers in New York City and Westchester County. The company recognized that it could realize significant cost savings if more customers would adopt electronic billing, where bills are delivered electronically without a paper version. Eliminating the printing, postage, labor and equipment costs associated with paper billing can result in significant cost savings.

In addition to operational efficiencies, driving e-bill adoption will improve customer relationships and fewer billing-related service calls. According to a Harris Interactive study conducted for CheckFree Research Services, clients who receive e-bills at a biller organization’s website show higher satisfaction levels, with 25 percent of them reporting an improved relationship with their biller as a result of receiving e-bills.

The challenge was how to attract more customers to the low-cost, high-impact online channel for billing activities and shut off their paper bill. To convince customers to change their behavior, Con Edison had to find a way to cost-effectively generate wide-spread awareness of electronic billing and explain how benefits, such as saving time, reducing clutter and helping the environment, outweigh concerns the customer may have about giving up their paper bills.

 

The Advantages of Electronic Billing
Together, Con Edison and CheckFree developed a comprehensive marketing campaign designed to communicate the benefits of electronic billing to as many customers as possible. As a critical first step, Con Edison gained cross-organizational alignment regarding the campaign strategy. Con Edison has a long-standing commitment to the environment; the company made a strategic decision to implement an ongoing campaign that conveyed a "go green with e-bills" message across numerous channels to maximize reach within their customer base. Research has shown that when attempting to change consumer behavior, a comprehensive, consistent and widespread marketing campaign is far more effective than "one-off" campaigns utilizing minimal tactics.

In May 2007, Con Edison launched the integrated marketing campaign capitalizing on the wave of consumer awareness on environmental issues.

Con Edison promoted paperless billing and electronic payment through a variety of methods and channels, including:

  • Customer e-mails
  • Direct mail postcards
  • On-hold messaging
  • Radio advertising
  • Invoice messaging
  • Press releases
  • Con Edison website messaging
  • My CheckFree® website messaging
  • Customer newsletters
  • Internal employee newsletters

Each communication featured the company’s environmental incentive – for every customer choosing the paper-saving option of viewing and paying their bill online, Con Edison would donate $1 to a local, non-profit tree planting fund to help the environment in New York.

To aid in driving awareness, Con Edison made a deliberate decision to create an extended campaign designed to consistently reinforce the safety, security, simplicity and environmental benefits of electronic billing. Based on the success of the marketing activities seen thus far, Con Edison plans to include the "go green with e-bills" theme in every consumer communication going forward.

The Results
Con Edison showed persistence and enthusiasm in pursuing a multi-channel marketing campaign, and it was well worth the effort. In the first seven months after the campaign launched, Con Edison generated impressive results:

  • More than 42,000 e-bills activated
  • 57 percent increase in e-bill activations over the same time in 2006
  • 19 percent increase in online e-bill payments during the same period in 2006

Con Edison also has benefited from the positive press and goodwill it has created in the community. By providing its customers with a better, more environmentally friendly choice for paying and receiving their utility bills, Con Edison is minimizing costs, maintaining operational control, optimizing growth for their business and turning customer interactions into profitable relationships.

Source: http://www.payitgreen.org/business/caseStudies.aspx

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