Nathan Shinn, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, BillingPlatform
It is a universal truth that the success of a business is intrinsically tied to the satisfaction of its customers, with metrics such as positive Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT) and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) becoming increasingly essential for companies to retain and expand their customer base.
A key part of this is customer touchpoints. This refers to any interaction, direct or indirect, a customer has with a firm, making these touchpoints vital to building and maintaining a business’s reputation with customers. Yet, for many companies, after initially selling their products or services and signing an agreement, regular touchpoints for customers become limited, resulting in a hindered chance to make a lasting impression and build long-term relationships with consumers.
Chaos for customers
Often, one of the only regular touchpoints that remains after the sales process becomes billing, but unfortunately, this is incorrect more often than it should be. Customer satisfaction research from industry experts and analysts report that the primary customer dissatisfaction point is the billing and invoicing process, meaning that failing to prioritise it comes at the cost of not only potentially losing customers, but the good reputation that a business has built up being lost. As such, it is vital that a robust touchpoint strategy is employed when it comes to billing processes to ensure customer satisfaction is maintained.
Most companies are aware that they can sometimes generate an incorrect invoice, or, because they are selling from different parts of the business or selling different solutions, must send multiple invoices to the client. However, even if every invoice a business generates is correct, the repercussions of sending too many invoices are in fact overlooked. The more invoices that are generated results in more work for their customers as financial teams need to double and triple check them all to ensure that they are accurate.
This can be a hidden threat to customer loyalty and relationships, which many businesses have ignored, and with a rapidly moving and ever-changing market around consumer and enterprise sentiment for buying, it will be difficult to ignore this for much longer.
Billing customers multiple times is a less common problem when a business only offers a basic subscription model, due to invoices typically being generated at the same time each month, with just the length and billing cycle to consider. However, even this process is not always simple.
For example, imagine an enterprise business selling services to another company which consist of physical goods, software components, maintenance agreements and managed services. These are four different models of pricing that all need to come together at the same point yet two will change every month depending on consumption. Even with these variable components in mind, the business needs to create an accurate and consumable invoice for the customer in 24 hours at the end of the month.
To overcome the issues faced with the aforementioned billing models, as well as to manage rising costs seen under the current economic circumstances, usage-based pricing models are growing in popularity with both consumers and businesses. According to an OpenView report from late 2021, a quarter of companies that currently use a UBP model say they introduced it within the previous 12 months, and 2021’s adoption of UBP exceeds that of both 2019 and 2020 combined. While offering usage-based pricing models is a great way to cater to the changing needs of customers, it also compounds the complexity of a billing process that can already produce incorrect invoices as they need to be able to capture various inbound data on user consumption and/or their subscriptions, apply it against contracted rating agreements, and create a unique, accurate bill quickly.
If businesses want to ensure their billing processes, regardless of what model they use, are fit for purpose and meet their customers’ needs, they need to be putting in place solutions that can streamline and simplify these processes for everyone. Implementing automated technologies, such as data mediation (the ability to quickly and accurately process raw-usage data), which can quickly analyse information such as a customer’s usage and their payment options, means firms can rest assured they are providing customers with accurate invoicing information at all times. This helps remove the risk of mistakes appearing in a customer’s invoice and can simplify them so that they can be reviewed and paid quickly, helping ensure that their happiness with this crucial touchpoint is maintained.
In ever tougher economic circumstances, it is crucial for firms to stay ahead of the competition in order to maintain and grow their customer base. A key way they can do this is to nurture their customer relationships wherever possible, and the best place to do this is at customer touchpoints, particularly when it comes to billing as it is the most constant contact point. Through harnessing technologies that can make billing and invoicing as simple and accurate as possible, these companies will be at a tremendous advantage as the market continues to change in the foreseeable future.
Global Banking & Finance Review
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