How Technology Has Made Paying Subscriptions and Bills Easier But Much Harder to Keep Track Of
These days, it seems that technology is revolutionising the most mundane parts of everyday life like paying bills and signing up to subscription-based services.
In the past, you had to carefully select which movies to buy on DVD – now it is just a matter of paying a monthly subscription to Netflix. You also used to have to physically fall in line at a bank, with many businesses now letting you pay bills through their app or website.
Technology has made paying bills and subscriptions much easier but it goes far beyond just fulfilling our entertainment needs. Businesses have also realised the many advantages of these systems and it could be the future, as we have discussed before in our post ‘The Future of Subscription Culture’. Soon enough, even smaller businesses and freelancers will adapt. Yet, it is still worth examining the new innovation’s pros and cons.
The success of the online subscription and billing model lies in the fact that they provide value to both the customer and the company. With a subscription, a company is pretty much guaranteed to have a set income coming in every month/week (depending on how customers are billed). Bills also help largely in this regard, as the convenience offered by being able to pay bills online expedites how long it takes for businesses to receive their money. There are risks though, and according to Research Australia, subscription customers may not realise how much their spending habits have accrued until the day they are charged. So, while you may be able to put off thinking about paying, it could all accumulate very fast. Some consumers might also find it especially hard to keep track of their bills online as it might get lost amongst the hundreds of emails and notifications they are bombarded with every day - making bills easier to pay has ironically made them easier to ignore as well.
Ironically, a diverse range of businesses are experiencing the opposite, and are finding it much easier to keep track of their billing, with technology that allows them to go paperless. Dynamic Business details how companies in the telecommunications industry, for example, have embraced online billing due to its many benefits. For instance, the convenience offered by eliminating the need to coordinate over the phone or in person, can improved a company’s public image while also saving them money on printing. The repair industry has also reaped the benefits of going paperless like cutting down on storage space and using innovative programs that notify users about issues. Verizon Connect's WORK software helps businesses go paperless and allows companies to keep better track of billing and it provides improved customer service by giving customers regular and accurate updates on their vehicles. It is no surprise then that many businesses are electing to switch to online systems. Yet, while Forbes acknowledges its many benefits they also first recommend considering customer needs before making any big changes. Some customers, for example, can find it hard to keep track of online subscriptions and billings if they are not particularly tech-savvy. For some, having a hard copy of a bill that they can refer to offers peace of mind that technology has yet to replace. So it is still important that businesses allow these types of consumers the option of sticking to paper.
The key to maximising the benefits of new technology and innovations is recognising that there are upsides to both new and old methods. Businesses using a faulty online billing platform may find themselves losing money if they don’t make sure all customers are billed correctly. This can be further exacerbated in the event of a data breach. Likewise, a customer could end up overspending on resources they don’t need if they only use a tiny portion of their subscription anyway (watching the same movie over and over again on Netflix comes to mind).
The solution here is for both consumer and businesses to use a sense of vigilance and pragmatism. Constantly evolving technology has provided new alternatives to old methods, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re always better.
Post solely written for trackmysubs.com by Amanda Chapman