If your office isn’t taking digital payments for municipal bills, it might be time to start. With more than US$1.8 billion in digital payments projected to occur globally this year alone, it’s clear that people have become very comfortable handling payments with their credit or debit cards. That’s why we’re looking at a few trends and best practices in electronic payments.
Choose one vendor to handle your processing
While conventional wisdom states you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, when it comes to electronic payments providers, one basket is typically better.
Selecting a single vendor to work with your different departments:
- Simplifies “who do I call” when you need to handle a concern.
- Creates a consistent user experience.
- Cuts costs, as many vendors offer discounts for larger accounts.
Test across browsers
People use everything from their laptop to their tablets to their phones to access the internet, which means they might be coming to your payment site that way as well.
Before you start offering citizens the option to pay their bills electronically, be sure to test your new payment options across a variety of browsers and equipment. You can do this in-house, or recruit others to try out your new site with the equipment they have on hand.
If you decide to get outsiders involved, send out an email or social media post asking for volunteers and offer them a thank-you gift in return. A collapsible water bottle, T-shirt or ice cream scoop can show your gratitude. Or offer a one-time discount on their bill.
Market your new options
What’s one of the biggest barriers to people paying their bills online? Not realizing it’s possible. While many of your residents might use “set and forget” methods to pay their bills, there’s a strong chance they won’t realize they can pay their property taxes online unless you tell them. That’s why when it comes to best practices in electronic payments, marketing is key.
Be sure to update your website with step-by-step instructions on how to pay municipal bills online. You can also add notices to paper monthly bills. And be sure to send out a post card or mailable marketing promotional item like a phone grip imprinted with a QR code that directs them to your payment page.
Be aware of payment fees
Credit and debit card payments often come with small fees attached that are usually paid by the organization taking (not making) the payment. However, if you start taking hundreds or thousands of payments a day, those fees can quickly add up.
Work with your payment process provider to determine whether it’s best to absorb those fees or pass them along to the payee as a “convenience fee”.
Offer more than one payment option
Although many people will prefer to simply hop online and pay their bills, there will be those who prefer to handle their transactions over the phone. Be sure to have a call-in number where people who prefer a more personal touch can ask questions or make their payment as needed.
If you’re unsure how your customers prefer to pay, just ask! Connect with them using text messaging, paper bills, e-bills and phone calls.
A new day for electronic payments
Using these trends and best practices in electronic payments coupled with marketing promotional items allow your agency to provide quick, easy payment options for your citizens. And that’s sure to pay off in a big way.