Billtrust, Jamesburg, N.J., a provider of outsourced billing services, saw 92 percent growth in the number of bills they sent electronically in 2009. Behind this growth is the story of innovative companies like Granite City Electric that are applying best practices to convert their customers to e-billing channels.
Granite City Electric is one of New England's largest distributors of electrical supplies, and has been outsourcing its billing to Billtrust since early 2004. Granite was able to achieve immediate savings of over 25 percent with Billtrust, the company says, but this was just half the story. Granite also wanted to capture more aggressive savings over time through a program that would systematically convert their customers to e-billing channels.
“Our company has always placed an emphasis on identifying productivity opportunities across our organization. Early on we recognized that Billtrust could help us achieve cost savings on postage, material, labor and IT,” said Mike Anderson, CFO at Granite City. “A key part of our strategy is to continue to reduce our costs by leveraging Billtrust's products and expertise to migrate more of our customers to e-billing.”
To drive e-billing, Granite makes sure that the “win” for their customers is well defined and that their customer service team is trained on the benefits. It's important to Granite that all members of their team can clearly articulate the advantages of e-billing including the environmental benefits, getting invoices faster, having the ability to download billing data into accounting systems such as QuickBooks and improved organization through the elimination of paper.
To further drive growth, Granite periodically offers incentives to customers including the chance to win tickets to Boston Red Sox games (Granite City Electric's logo is prominently displayed on Fenway Park's famed Green Monster). To keep their staff focused on e-billing, internal incentives are often used including gift cards, gas cards and internal recognition.
Granite's efforts have resulted in over 50 percent eBill adoption among its customers. Below is a summary of the key best practices they applied, courtesy of Billtrust:
Have an e-billing champion within the organization.
Ensure the e-billing product offers “wins” for the customer. For example, with Granite's email billing product (offered through Billtrust) their customers can easily download data into many leading accounting packages.
Use incentives both internally and externally.
Make sure employees understand the e-billing advantages for the customer.
Target top paper customers. They will have the greatest cost reduction impact.
Set goals and track progress.
According to Anderson, “Billtrust is a great partner for us. They continue to find ways for us to save. They have a clear understanding of the needs of B2B billers as is reflected in the tools they make available to manage the billing process.”