How to turn the billing experience into a successful touchpoint? Customers often have a negative association with the billing stage, which can affect their overall relationship with the company. However, by leveraging the tools of digital transformation and following the guidelines it outlines, any company can build a relevant, effective, and positive billing experience.
Let’s start with a simple, obvious, and almost somewhat trivial consideration: digital transformation has changed almost everything.
From shopping to finding a home, from enjoying entertainment content, to monitoring and managing one’s health: everything has had to deal with a digital transformation that has greatly changed the rules of the game and what is required of the major players in order to play.
Obviously, digital transformation is not just a “challenge,” a well-trodden path that all companies must take in order to continue to be competitive with other players in the industry.
Digital transformation also represents a huge opportunity for anyone who wants to grow and evolve their business in a decisive way; in fact, it opens up a series of remarkable opportunities.
These opportunities should be seized, or rather must be seized, especially after a period like the one we have just experienced.
On the other hand, it’s obvious that the pandemic has considerably accelerated companies’ adoption of digital solutions, pushing them to radically rethink their organization or their offerings to customers (or users).
This trend has been validated by companies like Google, which underlines a key point: the reason for this decisive shift to digital is due to consumers themselves.
A Google article on this very topic confirms this: “Search insights on Google Trends show us that consumer behaviours have become increasingly digital. It’s not surprising, given the lockdown measures in many countries and people’s only opportunity to connect with those outside of their own household being through digital channels. What is interesting, however, is the rapid adoption and variety of online services offered and tapped into.”
Among other things, the digitization of habits has happened across the board, in the wake of the increased use of e-commerce and delivery apps in recent months: “While e-commerce has accelerated in adoption, retail isn’t the only area that has become more digitally focused for consumers throughout lockdown. We have seen this behaviour become increasingly prominent as consumers have turned to online for things they may not have used digital channels for before, or to a lesser extent, such as virtual ‘try on’ (‘try on’), ‘online classes’ (‘online classes’), ‘tea delivery’ (‘tea delivery’), ‘virtual pub quiz’ (‘virtual pub quiz’), customer service ‘live chat’ (‘live chat’), and ‘virtual gym’ (‘virtual gym’), all of which have seen increased search interest across the world.”
For a business, what does it mean to digitize?
While the trends driving digitization are clear, it’s worthwhile to take a step back and ask what it actually means for a company to begin a digital transformation.
The term digital transformation refers to the application “of digital tools and technologies to ordinary work” within private or public companies.
However, this definition is somewhat limited.
It is not enough to just insert technologies into the same work and production process. On the contrary, digital transformation requires a redesign of processes and must be accompanied by the company’s transformation path and its managerial mentality in order to reduce the natural resistance to change and the difficulties that result from this.
This is why it can be said that every digital transformation brings with it a series of different and specific transformations involving different aspects.
The first is related to innovation, which can take place through different technologies according to one’s needs: from machine learning, to the Cloud, to Blockchain.
In this case, however, innovation cannot simply be a matter of addition and replacement: the technologies identified must be integrated into all phases of the production flow and at all levels in order to rethink the way we do business, both internally and externally.
Digital transformation makes everything easier
The second aspect through which digital transformation can be manifested is through the simplification that it enables.
This simplification can be expressed in many different ways.
For example, eliminating paper as the primary material for documents and for internal and external communication offers significant savings in terms of paper costs and those for archiving and storage, as it is no longer necessary to allocate paper documents in physical warehouses.
Among other things, the elimination of paper also simplifies all filing and storage processes, making it easier to find relevant information and document copies, which also become traceable; this includes paper statements, shipping documents, invoices, and tax documents in general.
On closer inspection, this digitization doesn’t just have an impact within the company, it can also benefit the customer.
All it takes is a little imagination and a new vision of the business and its internal mechanisms to offer relevant and unexpected experiences to consumers by exploiting unpredictable entry points, such as invoices.
To make this possible requires a change in mindset and, consequently, a new and different vision of things, something that can be achieved by embracing digital transformation in a permanent and radical way.
Digital transformation also transforms mindsets
The third aspect of the impact of digital transformation is that it affects the way you work and the way you manage the work of others.
In a certain sense, the people who work in and for the company must also become digitized.
From this point of view, smart working is a good example, which is understood as a re-imagining of a way of working and organizing resources. Work itself and how we manage resources has been impacted by the pandemic, and smart working can contribute to making every worker more efficient and productive. It also represents a good tool for rethinking the ways we alternate between work and free time.
In the same way, digital transformation, if it is true that it marks a change of mentality in the company, should also mark a change of mentality in the approach to marketing and the way of conceiving one’s own communication strategy.
And this is often the case, as demonstrated by the fact that, when a company embarks on a path of digital transformation, this is almost always followed by the implementation of an omnichannel communication strategy, the aim of which is to combine and harmoniously coordinate traditional and digital communication and sales channels in a way that offers the consumer a product purchasing experience that is as immersive, integrated, and dynamic as possible, exploiting the potential of both.
Billing can also be an experience: the billing experience is an important touchpoint
Mentality, simplification, and transversality: these are some of the aspects of digital transformation that can be imprinted in a business context. In extreme synthesis, these three “pillars” are at the basis of a new way of considering and approaching invoicing.
To a traditional approach, invoicing appears to be a chore, a necessary and repetitive operation.
In reality, by entering into the logic of digitization and experimenting with new approaches to marketing and customer communication, you can see how invoicing itself can be transformed into an effective opportunity to get in touch with customers and positively influence their perception of the company and the brand.
From receiving invoices to a billing experience
Billing is certainly a “mandatory” part of any business. An obligatory part often considered unpleasant.
In general, the average customer has negative reactions to this phase: 24% say they have had a “shocking” experience, 68% say they are confused by the invoices they receive, while 75% consider it a boring and compulsory imposition that must be removed (britebill.com).
Yet, if you think about it, invoicing could be an extraordinary opportunity, since it can become a very relevant touch point, especially because it represents a constant “contact channel” through which to reach your customers with different documents or communications.
This means that if you turn your invoice into a true communication experience, you can improve the entire customer experience.
But concretely, how can this be done?
The user at the center
First of all, you need to put the recipient at the center.
In this sense, digital transformation provides us with interesting indications. One of these is to provide a paperless billing experience, so as to reduce the economic impact of processes related to documents and at the same time facilitate interactions between the company and its customers, with positive effects on the customer experience.
One way to do this is to rely on Doxee paperless experience, which offers organizations complete coverage of digital processes of a fiscal and documentary nature, enabling the creation of complex processes that are perfectly integrated with the tools and procedures in use, through Doxee’s innovative Electronic Invoicing, Digital Storage, and Electronic Ordering products.
By doing so, the company demonstrates that it is moving towards the new usage habits of its customers, consistently changing its communication choices.
Simplify, simplify, simplify
Once the format has been made more “convenient,” we must move on to intervene on the content that the user receives.
Also in this case, what we know about digital transformation represents a good compass to guide us toward the right path, that of simplification.
This means making it easy and straightforward to use the documents that a customer receives: Customers should be able to easily identify and understand all of the information presented and without assistance.
You must also ensure that what customers receive (regardless of format) is also complete, so it provides all the necessary information such as the nature and origin of the billing document, in order to proceed to payment.
Among other things, when we talk about simplification in this context, we can also extend the concept to the payment phase. Every company should offer different alternatives for paying. The digital invoice can refer directly to these methods and explain how they work.
This, too, is a way to meet the needs of your customers (and to secure a faster, more consistent payment stream) and make billing a less negative experience.
Billing must be an experience
But to turn the billing phase into a true experience, you need to put something more into your billing documents. You need to make them relevant and engaging, different from how you usually see them.
Again, to do this, you can use the tools that are made available by digital transformation.
As we wrote in a previous post, you can provide the user with a PDF of the document and also with a personalized mini-site where you can see the history of your payments, your due dates, etc.In this way, what was meant to be a simple courtesy copy becomes a tool for customer interaction that is no longer a passive part of the experience.
Another way to make the customer’s billing experience memorable (in a positive sense) is to include a custom video, built specifically around the customer’s characteristics, so that all information, even that which may appear more complex, is conveyed effectively and dynamically.
Among other things, the effectiveness of the video could be enhanced by making it interactive, so that the user can take action and even make their payment while remaining within the video (thus with maximum convenience).
Such an approach is undoubtedly a win-win.
On the one hand, the customer perceives the attention and care of the company in managing even this phase, even building customized content designed to make the experience smooth, simple, and clear.
On the other hand, the company lays the foundation for building a relationship of trust with consumers even during billing, making it an important and useful moment of contact where you can also collect relevant information on the customer portfolio.