37% of Household Bills Paid by Mail, Says USPS

Bill delivery and payments brought in $18.5 billion for the USPS in 2013, accounting for more than 25% of its revenues.

In a new white paper, "Will the Check Be in the Mail? An Examination of Paper and Electronic Transactional Mail", the USPS looks at customer preferences for household bills and payments. The study includes market data as well as data from a major utility company.

  • Americans received 24 billion bills in 2013, 37% of which were paid by mail.
  • Customers prefer to receive bills by mail (79%) but show a willingness to pay their bills electronically (59%).
  • Customers who receive bills electronically tend to pay electronically.
  • Customer service calls can contribute sizeable costs to billing and payment processing. In the case of the utility company, their customers who received bills by mail and paid electronically generated the most calls, resulting in higher per customer costs than those who were entirely paper-based.
  • Providing a better online experience is a more effective strategy to get customers to switch to electronic billing and payment than Physical mail still plays an important role today and will continue to do so in the near future, according to research by the US Postal Service.
    providing incentives or imposing negative incentives.
  • 1 in 3 people surveyed had reverted back to paper delivery after sampling an electronic billing experience.
  • While companies look to minimize costs, they should not ignore customer preferences. Offering a variety of bill delivery and payment options can lead to higher customer satisfaction.

The USPS recommends 4 strategies to enhance the value of mail: making mail pieces more personally relevant to the recipient, more actionable in terms of enabling speed to purchase, more functional by embedding technology such as QR codes, and more creative by using more color and design.