Companies can reduce their carbon footprints and achieve significant cost-savings by sending their customers mobile statements rather than paper-based bills. That’s the word from Jacques Swanepoel, MD of Cellfind, a subsidiary of Blue Label Mobile.
He says that mobile statements can bring the benefits of electronic billing to a mass market, allowing companies to save money on paper and postage while offering their clients more convenience.
Swanepoel says that companies have long understood the benefits of electronic billing, which takes paper out of the monthly statement run. However, with low penetration of Internet-connected PCs in South Africa, the reach of e-mail or online statements is limited, but with more than 100% penetration of mobile phones in South Africa, mobile statements can reach almost everyone.
“Companies can use standard technologies such as USSD or SMS that are available on all cell phones, so customers don’t even need to have a smartphone to view their statements,” says Swanepoel.
“For example, with a product like miStatement, mobile statements can reach any customer – from a township dweller or a person living in a rural area, through to suburban South Africans,” says Swanepoel.
“They’re ideal for reaching people who have no fixed address since most people will carry their cell phones with them wherever they go.”
Swanepoel says that in an average billing run, companies will find that a significant number of their statements are lost or delayed in the post or shredded by a corporate firewall, which in turn delays customer payments. In addition, customers may forget to update their address details when they move. But most of them will keep their cell phone numbers constant.
“The fact that customers receive their statements immediately is another major benefit for businesses,” says Swanepoel.
It streamlines the payment cycle, as many people will pay the bill as soon as they receive it, perhaps using mobile banking from their cell phones. Bills can be dispatched on the same day they are compiled without the need for printing and postage delays – a big benefit to customers and companies alike since the statement the client receives will be completely up to date.
“What’s more, companies can easily track whether their statements have been delivered to a consumer’s handset or not. That means customers cannot claim that a bill got lost in the post,” says Swanepoel.
Because the statement comes directly to the user’s cell phone and is retrieved using a pin code, it is also completely secure.
In addition to the cost-savings from postage and paper, mobile statements can also alleviate some pressure on the call centre. Statement queries account for a huge amount of calls into the average call centre with customers phoning in for historical statements or to find out whether this month’s bill is.
But with mobile statements, they reliably receive their statements each month and can easily ask for historical statements by simply sending a short code.
“For clients, the benefits are also significant and include a more transparent and up-to-date view of their accounts,” says Swanepoel. “It is also more convenient for them than needing to wait for a statement to arrive in the post and then needing to follow up if it never arrives.”