An essential principle of running a successful business is to ensure that customers (opens in new tab) are completely satisfied with the service and products they receive. Metrics including Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT) are rapidly becoming vital for companies to maintain and grow their customer (opens in new tab) base.
As such, a key part of maintaining business success and consumer satisfaction has become customer touch points. In 2018, Google released a study in which they evaluated a consumer’s touch point journey when in contact with a business. Findings demonstrated that the average customer journey can now range anywhere from as little as 20 to over 500 touch points. Yet, for numerous firms, after initially selling a product or service, customer touch points become restricted, resulting in a lost chance to build on that initial interaction and maintain important long-term customer relationships.
Different touchpoints, same troubles
It is becoming increasingly clear that most businesses fail to prioritize and regulate their customer touch points post-sale. Often, the billing (opens in new tab) process is one of the few regular touchpoints after the sales process, and is frequently not given the care and attention that it needs to ensure customer satisfaction. Industry experts and analysts have found that frequently the primary point of customer dissatisfaction is the process which revolves around invoicing (opens in new tab) and billing. By neglecting this, businesses risk losing customers and their brand reputation. It is crucial that a robust touchpoint strategy be employed when it comes to billing processes to ensure customer satisfaction is maintained.
Firms often can make the mistake of generating an incorrect invoice, but that is not the only cause of customer pain when it comes to billing. Other times, firms send out multiple invoices to customers due to the sale of products or services from various parts of the business. The frustration of sending an incorrect invoice is understood by most, however, the repercussions of sending too many invoices are very often overlooked. The more invoices that are generated often results in more work for the receivers, particularly when selling to other businesses, as financial teams need to double and triple check them all to ensure that they are accurate, leading to frustrations across the board.
This means that the multiple billing process is often a hidden threat to customer loyalty and the relationships that the firm has with its clients.
Nathan Shinn is Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of enterprise monetization solution provider BillingPlatform.
Though it can be a persistent issue for some firms, billing customers multiple times is a less common problem when a business only offers a basic subscription model for its products. This is because invoices are generally being produced simultaneously each month, with just the length and billing cycle to consider. However, even this process is not always simple and can be complex and confusing from time to time.
For example, think of an enterprise business selling their products and services to another company which consist of physical goods, software components, maintenance agreements and managed services. There are four different models of pricing that all need to come together at the same exact point. Yet, there is a high probability that at least two will change every month depending on consumption. Even with these variable components, the company needs to develop and produce a consistent, accurate and consumable invoice for the customer in 24 hours at the end of each month.
To overcome the challenges faced with the aforementioned billing models, as well as to manage growing costs which have been exacerbated by current economic circumstances, usage-based pricing (UBP) models are growing in popularity with both consumers and businesses across the globe. An investigation into how businesses price their products in 2021 found that a quarter of companies that currently use a UBP model state they introduced it within the previous 12 months, and 2021’s adoption of UBP exceeds that of both 2019 and 2020 in combination. While offering usage-based pricing models is a fantastic way to cater to the constant changing needs of customers, it also compounds the complexity of a billing process that can already create incorrect invoices as they need to be able to capture various inbound data (opens in new tab) on user consumption and/or their subscriptions, apply it against contracted rating agreements, and create a unique, accurate bill quickly.
Streamline and simplify
Regardless of what model a business uses, if they want to ensure that their billing processes are perfectly fit for purpose and meet every single one of their customers’ basic needs, they need to be implementing solutions that are able to streamline and simplify these processes for everyone. Administering automated technologies, such as data mediation (the ability to quickly and accurately collect and process raw-usage data), which can rapidly analyze data such as a consumer’s usage and their payment options, means that firms can be certain that they are providing customers with precise invoicing information around the clock. This helps to remove the risks of errors appearing in a client’s invoice and can simplify them so that they can be reviewed and paid efficiently, helping ensure that their happiness with this crucial touchpoint is thoroughly maintained.
In a tough economic climate, it is non-negotiable that firms must strive to stay ahead of the competition in order to maintain and expand their customer base. A significant 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 often the most constant contact point. By implementing 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 and evolve in the foreseeable future.
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