Luxury jeweler enhances the digital billing and payment customer experience
Case Study: Borsheims, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is meeting rising customer demands and generating operating efficiencies with the U.S. Bank eBill Service.
By delivering luxury value and a superior customer experience, Borsheim Jewelry Company Inc. has thrived for more than 150 years as a fine jewelry and gifts store headquartered in Omaha, Neb. Business magnate Warren Buffett, a native of Omaha and a customer himself, was so impressed with the Borsheims formula for success that he acquired a majority stake in the business in 1989. Today the company has a national clientele and its 62,500-square-foot location in the upscale Regency Court fashion mall hosts thousands of shareholders for private shopping events during Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting every May.
At Borsheims, meeting customer expectations begins with offering a premium selection of quality jewelry with items ranging in price from $50 to $9 million. In its Omaha store, customers can choose from 2,000 loose diamonds and access electronic inventories of other diamonds that can be flown in overnight. In addition to exceptional customer service, the company is known for its commitment to discount pricing at all price points. “Regardless of how much the customer is spending, we’re all about the value,” says Erin Limas, Borsheims CFO and an employee going back to when the company was still a family business.
In recent years, Borsheims’ savvy customers have also begun expecting a superior digital experience. That’s where the retailer’s more than three-decade relationship with U.S. Bank continues to offer a competitive advantage.
From E-Payment to the eBill Service
In the mid-2000s, Borsheims became one of the first users of the U.S. Bank E-Payment online payment service, helping the retailer meet the emerging desire among its customers for convenient digital payment options. In 2020, as the bank started transitioning to a more feature-rich, customer-friendly electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) system, Borsheims chose again to be an early adopter.
Migrating to the new eBill Service has complemented Borsheims’ efforts around digital transformation, which included adopting a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The eBill Service supports the integration and efficiency the company is seeking through the new system, Limas says. Most importantly from a customer perspective, eBill provides both online payment capability and paperless billing statements through a single portal.
“Previously, customers wanting to both make payments and access their bills online had to go to two different websites,” Limas says. “By adopting the eBill Service, we’ve created a unified experience for the customer.”
In addition, she says, “we like having the U.S. Bank brand on our online bill pay service for customers. It’s a trust factor.”
“Having a solid tool like eBill, completely integrated with what we’re doing here at Borsheims, helps us accelerate our digital transformation and meet those expectations..”
A superior online payment experience
According to Limas, in addition to providing a timesaving, single EBPP portal, some of the customer-friendly eBill Service features that Borsheims appreciates the most include:
Pay by text. Customers who sign up for this feature and provide their banking information can pay their bills in a fast, convenient digital process. They receive a text alert before the bill is due and can easily initiate payment with a return text message. The system then sends the customer a confirmation.
An easy-to-use portal with self-service options that significantly reduce customers’ need to contact Borsheims customer service representatives (CSRs) for assistance.
Adoption and conversion support
Borsheims began working with U.S. Bank on implementing the eBill Service in fall 2020 and went live with customers in spring 2021. Three months into the launch the company had a 60 percent adoption rate, with nearly 9 out of 10 enrolled clients electing to receive paper statements as well as make digital payments.
Limas lauds the U.S. Bank implementation support team for its “amazing patience” and helpfulness in keeping the project on track. The bank’s project manager coordinated regularly with the Borsheims team as well as multiple supporting vendors. “We needed someone to take control and he did,” Limas says.
She adds that U.S. Bank technical experts worked closely with Borsheims to reduce the “go dark” period when making the final transition from E-Payment to eBill — helping to avoid confusion for both customers and company CSRs while maximizing cash flow during the switchover to the new service.
Greater operational efficiency
The eBill Service has created a variety of operating efficiencies for Borsheims, Limas says. For starters, the retailer now automatically uploads payment data into its new ERP system, saving time and providing greater accuracy by eliminating manual keying and the need to massage files. “The files come to us exactly how we need them,” she notes. “Processing that took 35 minutes now takes two minutes.”
Back-office staff now have more time for other duties, and the retailer’s CFO says over time she’s expecting “a solid cost reduction in postage related to statement mailings.
A digital transformation partner
Borsheims is in the midst of a digital transformation aimed at meeting the growing expectations of its customers and gaining operational efficiencies, and U.S. Bank is an important partner in that journey, Limas says.
“Customers have come to expect a portal and the ability to pay bills online and access statements whenever they want,” she says. “Having a solid tool like eBill, completely integrated with what we’re doing here at Borsheims, helps us accelerate our digital transformation and meet those expectations.”
Only retailers that successfully transform themselves to meet customer expectations will thrive into the future, Limas says. And U.S. Bank is helping Borsheims do just that.