Optimizing Paperless Adoption in the Utilities Sector

by | Sep 13, 2021

Accommodating Customer Personal Preferences is Key to Achieving Paperless Adoption Success in the Utilities Sector

The COVID-19 pandemic taught us a great many lessons in a very short period of time. One of these lessons is the importance of understanding how receptive your customers are to your current communication strategy. Today’s customers often have vastly different preferences about how they want to be communicated with, and these preferences can vary greatly based on demographics, as well as industry vertical. It is more important than ever for enterprises to communicate with consumers on their terms, because failure to do so can interfere with customer satisfaction.

When looking at paperless adoption in the utilities sector, specifically research conducted by Keypoint Intelligence, it is evident that firms in the utilities industry are further along on the paperless adoption curve than some other verticals. Utilities providers surpass financial services and healthcare firms in terms of setting realistic goals, but lag behind these industries in terms of offering a superior customer experience.


Table 1: Top 3 Tactics for Achieving Paperless Adoption Targets (By Vertical Industry) 

Financial (N=47) 

  • Offering a better customer experience: 64% 64% 64%
  • Meeting security and privacy concerns: 49% 49% 49%
  • Effective multi-channel marketing: 47% 47% 47%

Healthcare (N=35)

  • Making it easy for customers to switch: 51% 51% 51%
  • Offering a better customer experience: 49% 49% 49%
  • Effective multi-channel marketing: 46% 46% 46%

Utilities (N=39)

  • Offering a better customer experience: 44% 44% 44%
  • Setting realistic goals: 44% 44% 44%
  • Making it easy for customers to switch: 41% 41% 41%

Base: Enterprise respondents that are meeting/exceeding paperless adoption targets for bills/statements
Source: Doxim CCM Vertical Market Study (United States); Keypoint Intelligence 2021

Deliver a consistently positive utility customer experience across all customer communication channels, while also easing the shift to paperless. CONTACT A DOXIM CCM EXPERT TO LEARN MORE

An Interesting Dilemma

More consumers now consider the security of their personal data to be top of mind, and the uncertainty of the pandemic has only served to elevate this awareness. Some consumers simply maintain a personal preference for paper communications.

This creates an interesting dilemma-to increase paperless adoption in the utilities sector, firms need to enhance their customers’ paperless adoption experiences, but this is a challenge when customers’ personal preferences might include more direct mail?

Enterprises across all industries understand that a positive customer experience is of paramount importance. Even more compelling is the fact that a stellar digital communication experience can actually outweigh consumers’ security and data privacy concerns.

A word of caution, though-an outstanding customer communication experience can only be achieved by taking proactive steps in terms of education, marketing and assuring customers that their personal information will be kept secure.

Barriers to Successful Paperless Adoption in the Utilities Sector

Although many utilities are now seeking to expand their service offerings to generate additional revenues, they typically fall short in terms of a compelling marketing strategy. As noted earlier, the utilities sector is further along on the paperless adoption curve than other industries. This is largely because utilities statements don’t usually contain as much sensitive information as, say, a bank or healthcare statement would.

Although this has made the transition to paperless easier in the utilities vertical, many utilities firms lack the infrastructure and tools to further expand their service offerings. They also fall short of delivering effective multichannel marketing capabilities.

When enterprise respondents were asked how they were achieving their paperless adoption targets for the delivery of bills and statements, over 46% of respondents in the financial services and healthcare verticals cited an effective multichannel marketing strategy. Meanwhile, this share was only 31% for utilities firms.

According to the survey data, the propensity for insourcing might also be holding utilities back from further improving their paperless adoption rates. In relation to other verticals, utilities handle more of their print work in-house (and therefore do less outsourcing).

Percentage of respondents that print transactional communications either exclusively in-house or majority in-house/some outsourced:

Financial Services: 60%

Healthcare: 40%

Utilities: 66%

Table 2: Outsourcing of Printed vs. Electronic Communications (By Vertical Industry)

Does the same outsourcing provider that manages your printing also handle your electronic delivery?

Financial (N=34)

  • Yes – 77% 77% 77%
  • No – 21% 21% 21%
  • Don’t Know – 3% 3% 3%

Healthcare (N=38)

  • Yes – 76% 76% 76%
  • No – 18% 18% 18%
  • Don’t Know – 5% 5% 5%

Utilities (N=32)

  • Yes – 56% 56% 56%
  • No – 44% 44% 44%

Base: Enterprise respondents that outsource the production of printed transactional communications 
Source: Doxim CCM Vertical Market Study (United States); Keypoint Intelligence 2021 

The Bottom Line

Although some consumers maintain a preference for paper-based communications, there are others who are fully embracing the transition to digital. Utilities must strike a balance between honoring their customers’ personal communication preferences, while also guiding them toward the transition to digital.

While almost 70% of utilities view transactional communications as an important vehicle for quality marketing or educational campaigns, they lag behind the financial and healthcare verticals in terms of developing a strategic communication strategy so they can further expand their offerings.

All consumers have a common thread-they expect a positive and seamless communication experience regardless of their position on the paperless adoption curve.  Keypoint Intelligence’s survey results indicate that a notable percentage of utilities firms lack the technological infrastructure to implement a truly seamless digital experience.

Today’s consumers have come to expect a positive and modern experience from all the firms they do business with, so it is important for utilities providers not to fall behind in this respect.

The good news is that Doxim’s solutions can help utilities deliver a consistently positive customer experience across all channels while also easing the shift to paperless.

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Eve Padula
Senior Consulting Editor for Keypoint Intelligence’s Production Advisory Services with a focus on Business Development Strategies, Customer Communications, and Wide Format.
Her responsibilities include the promotion and distribution of content, handling data analysis for forecasts and research reports, and managing the editing and distribution cycles for many types of deliverables.

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