Print and mail, or push a button? When it comes to sending invoices, conventional wisdom might lead us to believe that electronic bills are more cost effective.
But conventional wisdom doesn’t always hold up to the cold, hard facts, as Phil Riebel points out in his article, “Two Sides to Sustainability,” published this month in Printing Impressions.
Riebel reviews the Natur-Energi A/S case study that sought to determine two things:
1. To see whether switching to invoices sent via physical mail could improve the payment time; and
2. To determine whether digital invoices were cheaper than physical in overall operational costs.
According to the study results, “evidence shows that new customers pay the required amount significantly later if they receive their invoices by e-mail, compared to physical mail.”
In other words, customers who received their bills via direct mail generally get paid sooner. That’s enough of a reason right there to mail your invoices.
But there was more, including unexpected operational costs.
“The survey found that 59 percent of customers receiving the invoice via e-mail had to be sent a reminder, while only 29 percent of customers receiving the invoice via mail required a follow-up message,” Riebel writes.
Additional costs were also caused by an increase in customer service calls for people who received invoices via email. Riebel writer, “47 percent of those receiving an initial invoice by e-mail called Customer Service after a reminder,” while only 14.5 percent of customers receiving a mailed invoice did the same.
So what’s the bottom line? According to Riebel, “it cost the company $3.25 per customer to get paid by paper invoice and $5.75 per customer billed by e-mail.”
That’s a significant difference, especially when multiplied by thousands of customers month after month. For faster payments and less follow-up, it looks like print is the way to go.