BILLS, BILLS, BILLS! (and we love ’em)

When describing the lines of business at directworx (Direct Mail Marketing, Bill Print and Distribution aka “billworx“, eGift fulfillment) I’m often asked how the billworx line of our business is performing now that everyone is going to eBilling. “Great question!” is my response, “we love that trend”. You see, the merit of our billworx product is not really in the commodity production and distribution of the bill but rather in the value of the bill image, thus making it “delivery-channel agnostic”. Let me explain…

Trust me, I’m (not) an expert

12 years ago we made the decision expand into the bill print & mail world as a natural next step for directworx. We’d already mastered variable printing, personalized messaging design, and certainly knew a thing or two about data programming for 1:1 marketing. So, armed with a strong IT team and encouraged by a certain enthusiastic customer we took the plunge into transactional mail. We’d been providing an array of direct mail services to this particular customer and had built strong bonds at numerous levels in the organization. But this would be different. There’s a whole other level of trust required for an organization to outsource such a critical aspect of its business…let’s face it, cash is king and an unhappy king usually means misery for the kingdom and nobody needs that!

After significant research and evaluation with an intentional focus on promotional messaging capabilities we selected a robust software language and platform on which to build our solution for this first billing customer. There were some notable complexities in our prospect’s billing data that in the beginning proved quite challenging (and a great testing ground – but that’s another story) so this platform needed to be flexible enough to handle some pretty ridiculous “spaghetti data”. Nevertheless, we worked closely with the software vendor and the customer to produce a proof of concept, met with VPs, presented to the CFO and finally won the contract. Soon after, we learned that the capabilities of the platform we’d settled on had been instrumental in our customer’s decision to go with us. They’d been as impressed as we were with the flexibility and capabilities of the package, including such features as dynamic messaging, eBilling and reporting.

Image is Everything

Although a steep learning curve, we were eventually able to generate timely, attractive bills that are user friendly, clear and contain relevant promotional images driven dynamically by the data and marketing rules. This, combined with the installation of enterprise-grade color inkjet printing technology that produces full color variable imaging, truly brought the documents to life.

eBilling was on our mind from the outset of this project as a Phase II that was soon rolled out. Calling upon the power and agility of our software, we built a process with a number of options ranging from attachment of the pdf image of our bill, to a simple link to an online “View My Bill” portal where that same image can be viewed, downloaded and paid online. Today, we send hundreds of thousands of eBills on behalf of our customers, the key being they all contain, or link to, a document image that clearly informs while tactfully promoting relevant offers.

A key to our success in this area was taking the time in the beginning to acquire the right technologies that would provide a high degree of branding flexibility thus producing effective bills. Our customer was thrilled at the branding exposure, a reduction of calls to their call center and noticeably quicker payment. In short they’d dramatically improved their subscribers’ bill/payment experience while improving cash-flow and sales!

The Lesson:

The true value of our billworx product lies in the bill image and how it improves the customer’s experience. How that image ends up in front of the consumer is simply a question of preference – a choice we’re pleased to offer!

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