By Jim Haigh, Keep Me Posted

Data from a recent survey conducted by Two Sides North America shows that nearly two in three American consumers aged 25 to 54 years old regularly print out hard copies of electronic documents from banks, government and other service providers. And for those who are 10 years out from retirement age and older, that number jumps to three in four.

It’s clear that as a practical matter, all the “Go Paperless” messaging bombarding consumers is not shifting behavior so much as it is swapping the burden and costs of maintaining paper copies of important documents.

What’s more, consumers are not fooled — they know this! Nearly six in 10 across all age groups agree that “When a service provider wants to switch me from paper to electronic bills and statements, and they say it is better for the environment, I know they are really just trying to save costs.”

The Two Sides 2021 Trend Tracker Survey, conducted by independent research company Toluna, also found that consumers’ expectations for the option of paper communications – free of charge — remained resolute during the pandemic. This in spite of unprecedented disruptions forcing physical interactions into virtual connections. The survey showed that 78% of consumers believe they should have the right to choose how they receive important communications from their service providers, on paper or electronically, and 67% believe they should not be charged more for choosing a paper bill or statement.

Most consumers are not swayed by “Go Paperless” messages when it comes to notices they deem important, and will print them anyway when denied the option. Moreover, the majority recognize that the assault on their paper preferences has to do with company and government cost cutting at their personal expense. They are wise to dubious environmental justifications.

And there’s a final data point that service providers might take to heart:  More than four in 10 consumers say they would consider switching to an alternate provider if they were forced into paperless communications. When paper options are a big deal to the overwhelming majority of your customer base, isn’t keeping them happy for the cost of a postage stamp cheaper than acquiring new customers to replace them?

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