The Problem with Portals


I recently read an Internet ‘fact’ that adoption of web based e-billing currently averages less than 10% across all industries.

Sending e-Invoices (Electronic Invoices)This struck me as odd because Corcentric’s clients typically average a 70% conversion away from paper billing.

Reducing bill cycle costs is often a primary goal for our clients. Therefore the success of the Corcentric solution is often measured by the number of print and post bills we convert to electronic distribution. Each invoice converted equals a reduction in post costs.

Speed of delivery, control, audit and compliance rank high in the list of requirements but cost savings rule. Therefore the focus shouldn’t be on the success of the 10% but on the opportunity with the remaining 90%.

If you define ‘web based e-billing‘ as meaning documents collected from a billing portal, low conversion figures become understandable. Portals are nice and many customers find them useful; especially for copy documents, but faced with logons and passwords many customers opt for convenience. That means invoices as email attachments.

Yet most invoice issuers only offer portal solutions. I think convenience is the driving logic behind this too. When you consider the process of monitoring email failures and individually printing and posting them you start to see the attraction of portals. Simply put, loading invoices to a portal is far easier than sending them out.

There’s also the allure of guaranteed delivery. When using a portal you know if an invoice has been received and read. This is true, but only for that 10% that bother to logon. For everyone else the only thing you know is when the post address is wrong, because it comes back return to sender. If portals please just 10% of your customer base it’s clear you need something else to ensure your e-billing solution is a success.

By allowing the end customer to choose between collecting invoices from a secure website (the ‘pull’ method) or receiving them as PDF attachments (the ‘push’ method) you too should achieve 70% adoption for electronic distribution.