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SunTrust and CheckFree Study Links Electronic Billing and Payment with Significantly Higher Customer Retention and Profitability

11/16/2007
SunTrust and CheckFree Study Links Electronic Billing and Payment with Significantly Higher Customer Retention and Profitability

New Research Underscores the Importance of Electronic Bills (E-Bills) as Part of an Overall Strategy of Delivering an Optimized Online Financial Services Experience

ATLANTA, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- A new SunTrust Bank (NYSE: STI) and CheckFree Corporation (Nasdaq: CKFR) study reveals a clear link between electronic billing and payment habits and higher account balances, customer loyalty and profitability.

The study analyzed consumer data from customer households during a 13- month period from February 2006 through February 2007. It found that customers who received and paid at least three e-bills per month at the

SunTrust website:

-- Were 86 percent more profitable than offline customers

-- Had a 78 percent lower attrition rate on average

-- Carried 121 percent higher deposit balances than the average SunTrust customer

-- Were twice as likely to have a mortgage and 60 percent more likely to have a savings account with the bank

-- Paid 25 percent more bills online than other customers The study is the first of its kind to isolate e-bills as a major factor in driving customer retention and profitability based on a matched sample analysis. Conducted by Aspen Marketing Services on behalf of SunTrust and CheckFree Corporation, the study builds on previous research findings that customers who use online billing and payment services were more profitable and loyal to their financial institutions. A 2007 Harris Interactive consumer bill payment survey conducted for CheckFree found that consumers using e-bills reported significantly greater satisfaction with their financial institutions and were more likely to recommend a bank's online offerings to friends and family, and 58 percent said they were less likely to switch financial institutions as a result of using e-bills.

"Over the past several years, SunTrust has focused on integrating value- added services like electronic bills to enhance the online banking user experience as part of our broader strategy to differentiate and drive the highest levels of customer satisfaction and retention through the online channel," said Tom Bennett, director of Consumer Deposits and Access Services at SunTrust. "This landmark study shows that there is a strong link among online banking, increased profitability and share of wallet, and there's an even stronger link among e-bills, customer loyalty, profitability and usage of other banking products."

Details of the study, including additional findings, will be formally presented by SunTrust and CheckFree at the Bank Administration Institute (BAI) Retail Delivery Conference on Nov. 15, 2007 at 11:15 a.m. in the Expo Solutions Theatre, Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. A white paper of the study, "The e-Bill Effect: The Impact on Customer Attrition from Banks that Offer e-Bill," will be published by Aspen Marketing Services and available for download at http://www.checkfree.com/whitepapers. E-bills contain the same information as paper bills but are delivered online rather than via regular mail. Because it offers the ability to securely receive, view and pay multiple bills at a single financial institution's Website, e-billing helps consumers manage household bills in a more organized, secure and convenient fashion. Replacing paper bills with e-bills can also remove sensitive financial records from unsecured mailboxes to help lower the risk of falling victim to identity fraud. E-billing also contributes to environmental conservation by reducing waste and pollutants associated with producing, mailing and transporting paper bills and payments across the country.

"CheckFree is closely aligned with financial institutions' highest priorities of generating revenues and increasing overall customer satisfaction and retention. Our Online Channel Optimization strategy combines CheckFree's industry-leading online banking and bill payment service with value-added services like e-bill," said Alex Hart, executive vice president and general manager of CheckFree Electronic Banking Services. "SunTrust Bank has been a valued CheckFree customer since 1995, and we're pleased to be working closely with the bank to provide integrated online banking and bill payment solutions, as well as the marketing analytics and metrics that can help them achieve maximum return on investment from the critically important online channel."

About SunTrust Banks (http://www.suntrust.com) SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the nation's largest banking organizations, serving a broad range of consumer, commercial, corporate and institutional clients. As of September 30, 2007, SunTrust had total assets of $175.9 billion and total deposits of $115.9 billion. The Company operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high- growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states and a full array of technology-based, 24-hour delivery channels. The Company also serves customers in selected markets nationally. Its primary businesses include deposit, credit, trust and investment services. Through various subsidiaries the Company provides mortgage banking, insurance, brokerage, equipment leasing and capital markets services.

About Aspen Marketing Services (http://www.aspenms.com) Founded in 1986, Aspen Marketing Services is the largest privately held marketing services agency in the United States. Headquartered in West Chicago, IL, with offices in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York City, Phoenix, Morristown, NJ, Rosemont, IL, San Diego and Tampa, Aspen Marketing has more than 800 employees nationwide. Aspen Marketing offers an extensive array of integrated, best-in-class services including Direct Marketing, Consumer Promotions and Premiums, Event Marketing, Public Relations, Digital Marketing and Database Analytics for clients such as General Motors, AT&T, Honeywell, Motorola, HP, Georgia-Pacific, Mutual of Omaha, Kraft Foods, JVC and Omaha Steaks. http://www.aspenms.com

About CheckFree (http://www.checkfreecorp.com) Founded in 1981, CheckFree Corporation (Nasdaq: CKFR) provides financial electronic commerce services and products to organizations around the world. CheckFree Electronic Commerce solutions enable financial services providers to offer the convenience of online banking, and along with billers, to offer the convenience of receiving and paying household bills online, via phone or in person through retail outlets. CheckFree Investment Services provides a broad range of investment management solutions and outsourced services to hundreds of financial services organizations, which manage about $1.8 trillion in assets. CheckFree Software develops, markets and supports software applications that are used by financial institutions to process more than 75 percent of the nearly 16 billion Automated Clearing House transactions in the United States. The division also provides financial institutions and other organizations with payment processing and consulting, reconciliation and exception management, fraud and risk management, cash and logistics management, and compliance software and services.

Certain of the Company's statements in this press release are not purely historical, and as such are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These include statements regarding management's intentions, plans, beliefs, expectations or projections of the future. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including without limitation, the various risks inherent in the Company's business, and other risks and uncertainties detailed from time to time in the Company's periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended June 30, 2007 (filed August 24, 2007). One or more of these factors have affected, and could in the future affect the Company's business and financial results in future periods, and could cause actual results to differ materially from plans and projections. There can be no assurance that the forward-looking statements made in this press release will prove to be accurate, and issuance of such forward-looking statements should not be regarded as a representation by the Company, or any other person, that the objectives and plans of the Company will be achieved. All forward-looking statements made in this press release are based on information presently available to management, and the Company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements.

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