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A third of consumers would rather switch utility companies than go to paperless billing

05 February 2008 / by Verity G
Finance, mobile and utility companies could stand to lose a third of their customers to competitors if they stop sending out monthly paper statements, according to new research.

A study by Royal Mail found that despite a widespread push for eco awareness and sustainability, it seems that customers would still prefer to receive their bills through the post rather than via a paperless system online.

The research found that utility companies would be those most at risk to customer defection, as 35 per cent of people questioned said they would switch suppliers if they didn't get their statements through the post, while almost a fifth said they would even switch banks if paper statements were withdrawn in favour of online replacements.

The study, conducted by Henley HeadlightVision, looked into current consumer attitudes towards the communication options offered by online banking, mobile phone companies, gas and electricity providers, and banks, and found that the old fashioned paper bill is still as popular as ever.

Abi Wood, Head of Financial Sector Marketing at Royal Mail comments: “Many companies are currently actively encouraging people to transact with them online, but they need to ensure that this is what their customers really want.

“It is important for companies to embrace the breadth of communication channels available and offer their customers a choice. Companies that scrap paper communications without asking their customers first will lose a significant number of them to rivals.”

The findings also revealed that online banking customers prefer to get their statements via the post. Online security was an issue for many with 70 per cent of consumers believing that it is safer to receive confidential information by post rather than online and a further 67 per cent also agreed that it is easier to deal with post than email communications.

Ms Wood adds: “This research demonstrates the importance and value that many people place on having a hard copy record of their transactions to the point that they would look elsewhere if their company stopped sending them.”

© Fair Investment Company Ltd