Want Customers to Pay Faster? Make Each Customer Touchpoint Count
The rest of the company might think collecting customer invoices is an issue only for Accounts Receivable (AR), and AR might assume it doesn’t need to worry about customer satisfaction as it invoices and collects customer payments. But customer satisfaction and invoice collection are inextricably intertwined because a customer’s payment habits are influenced by every interaction they have with your company. If you want faster payment, enable every staff member to deliver excellent customer service, no matter what part of the customer journey they handle, including the last touchpoint—invoicing and collections.
The First Half of the Customer Journey
Depending on your company’s business model, a customer could interact with a half dozen departments from the time they first contact you to when they pay their bill. In a typical B2B model, here’s what the customer encounters in the first half of that journey.
- Marketing: The digital and print collateral and content sets the initial tone by speaking to the customers’ needs and offering solutions.
- Reception or Call Center Rep: Whether it’s a phone call, e-chat, email, or walk-in, the first person-to-person dialogue determines whether the customer engages further or disappears.
- Sales: The initial pitch and later contacts demonstrate how well your company and its product or service can meet the customer’s needs.
- Order Fulfillment or Implementation: This is the first chance to make good on your sales pitch by fulfilling the promises you made and meeting the customer’s expectations.
- Customer Service: With your product or service in place, this is the next chance to show the customer they are more than just a purchase order.
Up to this point in the customer journey, many companies have mastered the art of relationship building. Everyone from marketing to customer service makes the customer feel valued and has the tools they need to accomplish that.
The Second Half of the Customer Journey
Once it’s time for invoicing, the customer passes to the finance department. Unfortunately, this is where the relationship sometimes goes sideways.
- Accounts Receivable Invoicing: The timing, tone, and accuracy of invoices can either reinforce the customer-centric message sent by all non-finance departments or it can disprove them.
- Accounts Receivable Collections: Dunning campaigns to collect past-due invoices can either be the final step in a particular customer order or the final order of a particular customer.
The customer relationship doesn’t go off the rails because the finance team doesn’t care. It’s often because they’re bogged down by manual AR processes.
A More Customer-Friendly AR Process
AR can back up the rest of the company’s cohesive messaging and further enhance customer satisfaction when they have the tools that make it easier for them to:
- Send email invoices with the right purchase order attached
- Create personalized and customized messages using invoice templates
- Automate customized dunning campaigns
- Loop in other company influencers, such as sales, to reach out to the customer