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Interview with Marc Werner

Head of Sales & Services on the new charges

“Paper billing is costing us tens of millions every year.”

As part of its commitment to digital payments, Swisscom will, with effect from 1 October 2019, be charging residential customers CHF 2.90 for paper billing and imposing a standard charge of CHF 3.– for paying bills at the post office counter. Such charges have become standard for the industry. Marc Werner, Head of Sales & Services, explains why these costs are now being passed on more proportionally to the customer, and the free alternatives that are available.
Nina Fehr, Communication Consultant
11 June 2019

Swisscom has always taken pride in its commitment to quality and exceptional customer service. How does this square with charges both for paper billing and paying in at the post office counter?

It is understandable that emotions can run high whenever changes are made that affect our customers’ wallets. However, the market in which Swisscom operates continues to push down prices. If we are to keep offering our customers the best network and the best customer experiences, we have a duty to invest every single franc wisely. This is the motivation behind our concerted focus on digital processes, and billing is no exception. Sending out paper bills costs us tens of millions every year. We do not feel that all of our customers should have to bear these costs, just as not all customers should have to bear the costs of those who pay their bills at the post office counter. With this in mind, as of October, we will be imposing such charges only on the specific customers who incur the costs. We will also be offering alternative, free forms of billing and will be supporting customers wishing to switch.

What are these alternatives? Especially for customers who struggle with digital payments?

Customers using one of the basic service products will not be charged extra for paper billing. For all other customers, options such as electronic invoicing, credit card payments via the Customer Center or online banking are very straightforward these days. As an alternative to paying at the post office counter, customers will, with effect from October, also be able to pay their bills free of charge at any Swisscom Shop. Besides cash, we also accept all common payment methods, including debit/credit card, TWINT etc. Customers also have the option of setting up a direct debit with their bank. Our front-line employees will be happy to advise customers of the most appropriate option for them depending on their degree of digital confidence.

Why is Swisscom increasing the charge for customers wishing to pay in cash at the post office counter?

We are essentially passing on the charge levied by Swiss Post for providing the service. When customers pay their bills at Swiss Post counters, it is time consuming and incurs high internal costs and expenses that could not be covered by the existing 1:1 charge. This process cannot be automated. Despite a drop in post office payments since 2016, there has been little reduction in the manual effort required at Swisscom. Some customers, for example, always use the same reference number, pay more than one bill at a time or use paying-in slips that have been filled in by hand – all such cases still have to be processed manually. This is why customers now incur a standard charge of CHF 3.– for paying in at a Swiss Post counter, in line with standard industry practice, which covers the costs and expenses incurred by Swisscom.

Another approach would be to offer additional incentives to promote electronic payments. A discount for customers opting for electronic billing, for example.

We want to encourage a change of mindset amongst our customers. Paper and postage are not sustainable. In our experience, information campaigns and incentives, such as fundraising activities for the WWF or SOS Children’s Villages, are not motivational enough to bring about a change in customer behaviour. It is for this reason, as well as the previously mentioned changes in the market and the ease of electronic payments, that we have taken the decision to pass on the costs more proportionally to the customer as of October. We offer our customers a wide range of attractive offers and discounts in other areas. They also enjoy ever-increasing mobile connection speeds, for example, and free roaming. These are all aspects that bring real value. We are committed to continuing to offer and invest in benefits such as these in the future, rather than offering discounts for certain payment methods.

Key points at a glance

  • As of 1 October 2019, residential customers will incur a charge of CHF 2.90 for paper billing.

  • Basic service customers will not be charged for paper billing.

  • Different tariffs will apply to NATEL® go customers as a result of the respective contractual situation.

  • As of 1 October 2019, a standard charge of CHF 3.– will apply for each payment at the post office counter.

  • All affected customers who currently receive paper bills or pay at the post office counter will be given notice of the impending change on at least two statements prior to the 1 October billing period.

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Marc Werner, 52, has managed the Sales & Services division at Swisscom since 2016. He has been a member of the Group Executive Board since 2014.