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Created on 29.12.2023

Invoicing: how Helvetia is boosting eBill

Customers increasingly prefer to receive invoices via eBill directly in their online banking. To find as many customers as possible who give priority to digital invoices, eBill provides invoice issuers with access to the Look-up function. Helvetia implemented this function in collaboration with PostFinance. Claudia Ulrich, Project Manager at Helvetia, describes the insurance company’s process and tells us whether expectations were met.

Claudia Ulrich has worked at Helvetia as a project manager in the area of ECM (Enterprise Content Management) since 2018. She manages projects for the digitization of input and output processing. Helvetia Insurance is an internationally active insurance group with over 12,000 employees and more than 7 million customers.

Why did Helvetia decide to use the Look-up function?

Customer convenience is an important aspect of Helvetia’s strategy. We want to provide our services in a way that makes things as easy as possible for our customers. We also want to keep this brand promise when it comes to invoices. If customers of Helvetia Insurance Switzerland want to receive invoices as eBills, we would like to make that possible. The Look-up function helps us to fulfil this customer request.

In what way?

With eBill, customers are able to inform their invoice issuers that they would like to receive all invoices via eBill in the future. They just have to select “Add invoice issuer automatically” in the eBill portal for their online banking. As an invoicing company, we can then manually search for and find these customers using their e-mail address or, for companies, using their company ID no. (Unique Identifier). The Look-up function can be used to query the Look-up database automatically. We wanted to use this opportunity to fulfil our customers’ wishes quickly and easily.

How did Helvetia go about implementing the Look-up function?

When we switched to the new eBill infrastructure in 2022, we worked with our network partner PostFinance to analyse the various procedures that customers can use to register for eBill and decided on a gradual approach. In an initial project, we implemented the two basic processes of form-based “Registration via invoice issuer search” and direct registration. Implementation of the Look-up function followed in a second project, after an analysis of its potential. We wanted to know in advance how many new eBill registrations we could expect when we set up the Look-up function. A data comparison indicated that we would achieve good results. This gave the Look-up project a boost. Everybody involved was highly motivated and supportive.

Overview of the registration process for eBill

Customers who would like to receive invoices as eBills have four options when activating invoice issuers in the eBill portal. The following is an overview of the registration types:

  • Registration via form (via the invoice issuer search): all companies that offer eBill are listed in online banking under “Invoice issuers”. Customers can use the form to add the required company as an eBill invoice issuer.
  • Direct registration in online banking: as soon as a customer enters an invoice (QR-bill, IBAN), they are automatically informed that they can register for eBill with the invoicing company.
  • Look-up (automatic addition of invoice issuers): every eBill issuer can query the Look-up database via its network partner.
  • Registration in the invoice issuer’s customer portal or online shop: invoice issuers can integrate eBill directly into their sales processes and offer their customers the switch to eBill. 

What form can a Look-up query take?

We choose customers who have not yet registered for eBill and use their e-mail address or company ID no. to ask them whether they would like to register for eBill via an interface from our network partner PostFinance in the eBill system. The interface returns the information to us. We, in turn, incorporate this information into our systems so that eBill-ready customers receive an eBill invoice the next time invoices are issued – as requested.

Helvetia has developed its own monitoring application as part of the Look-up implementation. Why?

It is important to us that we can provide customers with information at all times about the way in which they registered for eBill with Helvetia or whether the registration worked. We also want to be able to automatically confirm to customers that we have registered them for eBill via Look-up. For this purpose, we have also developed a monitoring application. 

How long did it take to fully implement the Look-up function?

Three months, including the addition of our own monitoring application. This short lead time is also due to the fact that our project team already has a great deal of expertise, which they acquired during the transition to the new eBill infrastructure. The Look-up function is easy to implement and use. 

Which units at Helvetia were involved in the Look-up project?

Internally, there were a total of four: the Swiss Finance specialist unit, as the project sponsor, was in charge of all technical questions and worked with us to establish the specifications for solution-oriented processes. The IT unit, which was also on board from the start, was responsible for aspects including the interfaces and the development of our app. The Sales Data Management unit provided us with reliable and accurate master data for data comparison, and Marketing supported us in customer communication with marketing campaigns and materials. The project was supported externally by PostFinance, which, as a network partner, provided us with advice on all technical issues.

How often is Look-up used at Helvetia?

Once a month, prior to our invoice runs. With the automated data query, we can determine which customers have registered for “Add invoice issuer automatically” and now want to receive eBills since the last invoice was sent. All of this runs automatically in the background at a fixed time every month. 

What percentage of invoice recipients receive eBill invoices from Helvetia?

Let’s take the example of the Motor Vehicle Insurance unit, which represents the average of our various units. In November, we always have the largest invoice run of the year. In 2023, we were able to send and eBill invoice to 25 percent of our invoice recipients. Across all the units where we offer eBill, we have doubled the number of eBill registrations within a year, thereby exceeding our project goals.

What part did Look-up play in this success?

A significant one, because without Look-up, this increase would not have been possible. 

Does Look-up have any disadvantages?

I can’t think of any disadvantages. Look-up is stable and easy to implement and use. 

What other goals is Helvetia pursuing with eBill?

We would like to further increase the number of eBill users by familiarizing our customers with the subject through marketing measures via various channels and by offering eBill across the board in the future, not just in the major business units, but in all units and for all products. Separately from this, we are running an initiative to digitize documents. Our aim is to send fewer invoices in paper form and instead send them electronically via our customer portal. This will also further promote eBill.

To which companies would you recommend Look-up?

Essentially, any company with correct and reliable master data. These are required to avoid incorrect assignments and ensure correct data comparisons via Look-up. In other words, high-quality master data is a precondition for the Look-up function.

Why is it desirable for as many companies as possible that offer eBill to also use Look-up?

Ultimately, it is helpful for everyone if as many invoice issuers as possible who use eBill compare their data with Look-up. For customers, it means greater success: the more of their invoices they receive via eBill, the better for them. After all, they used the “Add invoice issuer automatically” setting to express their wish that all invoice issuers send them eBill invoices. And companies can save costs and contribute to sustainability with every paper bill that they replace with eBill.

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