A Matter of Choice

As companies strive to move their customers towards digital communication, we examine whether this business decision is the right one for the consumer.

It’s no secret that businesses and organisations prefer to communicate with their customers digitally. Whether it’s financial institutions sending statements via an app or utility companies emailing your latest bill, companies are keen to make every document for every customer digital.

For businesses with thousands of customers, you can understand why. With no paper, print or postage, the relatively low cost of emailing or texting is a major factor, but so is the ease of automation and the collection of data that can be used to target other products or packaged up and sold. Companies have even begun to charge people to receive their communications by paper.

But what’s efficient and productive for a company isn’t necessarily good for the customer. A global survey by Two Sides has found that this drive to digital isn’t always welcome, with a resounding 89% of customers believing that they should have the right to choose how they receive their communications, and 77% believing they shouldn’t be charged more for choosing paper.

When it comes to important documents, there are a number of reasons why many people prefer them in print. Firstly, having paper bills and statements helps the customer keep on top of their finances – an important factor when money is tight. Two Sides found that 61% of people find it easier to track expenses and manage their finances when on paper, while a 2015 study by the Keep Me Posted campaign found that 82% of people are able to correctly identify how much money was in their account if they received the statement by post, versus 32% who received online statements.

“People’s understanding of the information they receive has important implications for their ability to manage their money effectively,” said Judith Donovan CBE, chair of the Keep Me Posted campaign. “Receiving paper correspondence may help people manage their finances better. It can help them avoid going overdrawn inadvertently or spending beyond their means.”

Then there’s the issue of trust and security. With online fraud an increasing problem and hackers gaining access to millions of customers’ details, people are quickly losing trust in digital, particularly when it comes to financial and legal documents. Indeed, the Two Sides survey found that  71% of all respondents are increasingly concerned that their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged, while 73% keep hard copies of important documents at home.

One of the ways many companies encourage their customers to make the switch to digital is by claiming that going paperless is better for the environment, imploring their customers to ‘Go Green’ or ‘Save Trees’. Because of the sustainability of print, these claims are often misleading and Two Sides have been working hard to get some of the world’s biggest companies to remove them from their communications. To date, Two Sides have succeeded in getting 278 companies to remove claims that going paperless is better for the environment – a 61% success rate.
more at:  http://www.twosides.info/UK/A-Matter-of-Choice

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