Business shipping and mailing services | Pitney Bowes

In mail we trust

Four reasons why consumers prefer paper bills and statements

If the 2000s were the decade of digital, the current decade could be the decade of trust, where success is defined by keeping the goodwill that organizations have worked so hard — and spent so much money — to build.

For transactional communications — that is, invoices and statements — consumers have voiced a clear opinion: they trust the mail. Despite the push toward Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment (EBPP), e-payments have had slower than expected adoption. InfoTrends, a top research firm for customer communications, says that nearly 66 percent of household bills and statements will still be mailed in 2018.1

Dr. Larry Ponemon, publisher of the Ponemon Institute’s Most Trusted Companies, a yearly report that measures consumer sentiment, explains why consumers prefer mail.

1. No mystery here
The U.S. mailing process is an easy-to-understand system that’s familiar to everyone. There is little fear that your mail carrier will open and read your correspondence — unlike online interactions where growing numbers of users are taking steps to protect their personal information and block “cookies” from following their every move.

Studies show that 25 percent of consumers choose to receive paper bills because they feel it is a “security precaution.”2 Ponemon explains why: “Different types of information have different levels of privacy expectations attached to them.” Areas such as finance and health remain sacred and demand higher levels of privacy.

2. The human element
Many people know their mailperson by name and interact with him or her on a regular basis, establishing an unusual person-to-person trust factor. The USPS®’s newer customer-service efforts, like 24-hour call centers, reinforce relationships between the agency and its customers.

That’s why consumers named the USPS® one of the United States’ 20 most trusted companies and the number one most trusted government agency for the last 10 years.3 These positive sentiments spill over to businesses that employ postal services.

3. People like choice
“Companies that rank high in consumer trust have a strong orientation to respecting their customers and providing the best possible customer service,” Ponemon says. Consider companies that offer online billing. Consumers sometimes sign up, then opt for a paper trail. Nationally, one in three people surveyed said they had reverted to paper delivery after trying an electronic-only experience.4 In the long run, giving people options can have a positive effect on key business metrics, like increasing loyalty and decreasing churn.

4. Expectations are met
There are hundreds of federal laws that protect our mail service. In fact, most people have some level of knowledge about those laws — for example, many know that opening another person’s mail is illegal. These rules set clear privacy expectations.

There are other practical reasons as to why consumers rely on the mail. For example, bills and statements must be mailed First-Class®, which guarantees that mail forwarding and return-mail actions take place. Consumers can be certain that no matter where they are in the U.S., their mail will find them.

1,2,4 InfoTrends: Insights into the Transactional Communications Market: Setting the Stage, 2015.

3 Ponemon Institute, Annual List of Most Trusted U.S. Companies, 2008-2014.


Want to learn more about how consumers like to receive communications? Millennials respond well to direct mail and marketers should consider more than one channel for their communications. Here’s a great tool to help create and send these types of communications.


© Pitney Bowes 2015.  All rights reserved.

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