Even e-invoicing can become an interesting and memorable experience for users, provided that companies follow some of the most important trends of the period: designing a personalized, mobile, clear, paperless, and above all, positioning the experience for each company. In short: a billing experience.
For years now, the way companies do business has been changing following different guidelines, driven by different “forces” and influences.
It’s enough to think about the attention with which brands are paying to issues that have become very important, such as, for example, environmental sustainability (with all that it implies regarding production methods or the choice of materials and specific types of production) or civil rights, which can range from protecting minorities to guarantees for workers at every level and at every stage of production.
In addition to this trend, there are others that relate specifically to the way a company conducts its business, how it envisions workflows, and how it manages the relationships with customers and suppliers, such as digital transformation.
From this point of view, digital transformation – which is a process of innovation that takes place through new digital technologies, such as Cloud, Internet of Things, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence – is definitely one of the most important trends of our times.
It has also become critical. Because of the global health situation, the use of digital tools has now become essential, as every company has had to quickly readjust many of its services by digitizing them in order to overcome the obstacles posed by the pandemic.
Digital transformation is also important because it marks a real “rethinking” of how we do business. This new way of doing business involves so many aspects of an organization, from those related to the product, to training and marketing, to those related to invoicing.
Invoicing, in fact, is one of the phases of business that has undergone many transformations in recent years, and it is most likely to continue to transform in the future.
Invoicing has gone electronic
For several years now, invoicing has become a digital process, thanks to the transformation that has been established by Italian law.
Since 2019 – even though the project began several years before- the Italian legislator imposed the switch to digital for all transactions between subjects who are resident or established in Italy that involve VAT, including those who are identified directly or by a tax representative here in Italy, even though they do not have a permanent establishment on the national territory, with the clear aim of combating tax evasion and having greater control over compliance.
Despite some delays and extensions granted by the legislator to give everyone time to align with the provisions and adopt the necessary technologies, it can be said that, from this point of view, the transformation has taken place and has also been a success, given the positive results recorded over the years.
Even during the toughest months of the lockdown, in fact, there has been steady growth in the use of e-invoicing. In the first five months of 2020, over 770 million invoices were sent by around 3.3 million operators, registering remarkable growth compared to the same period of the previous year.
This represents a major positive element that benefits the entire country, given that electronic invoicing has a value of €3.5 billion in tax revenue, according to the Director of the Revenue Agency, Ernesto Maria Ruffini, during a hearing of the Finance Committee of the Chamber of Deputies held on June 24, 2020.
Benefits of electronic invoicing aren’t just visible at the national level; individual companies that have switched to electronic invoicing have also seen the benefits of improvements in many aspects of the business.
In other posts, we’ve seen how electronic invoicing makes certain management steps and processes more effective, such as storage and preservation of invoicing documents (and not only), which becomes faster, easier, and more functional through digitization.
Not to mention the marketing benefits. Turning invoices into a digital document means making them a strategic touchpoint for reaching customers in an original, effective, and memorable way.
After all, a bill is something a customer must pay attention to, and attention is one of the most precious and difficult currencies to earn. Not taking full advantage of this “preferential” channel with the customer means missing a great opportunity to connect several processes thanks to digitization.
From invoicing to a billing experience: 8 trends
In fact, the transition to electronic invoicing has paved the way for both the digitization of Italian companies, which have found themselves experimenting with specific digital technologies and solutions in very different fields, and has led all companies to change their approach in order to improve the relationship with their customers.
Hence the need to rethink invoicing: instead of treating it as a simple compulsory and “bureaucratic” fulfilment, it is better to integrate invoicing into the customer experience that you offer, so that customers experience the invoice in a more positive way and, consequently, have a better relationship with the companies themselves.
That’s why we’re now talking about the billing experience and how to transform it so that it becomes a resource for the companies and simultaneously satisfies the needs and expectations of customers.
To achieve this requires keeping the invoicing phase up to date and in step with the new technologies and the new needs of customers and suppliers.
But where do we start?
In order to answer this question, let’s first look at the trends on the horizon so we can understand how to move from simple electronic invoicing to a true billing experience.
1. A billing experience must also be a paperless experience
You may think that “paperless” would be the sole and “obvious” consequence of the move to electronic invoicing. In reality, it is much more! If we think of this transformation solely in terms of changing the billing medium, then we are limiting ourselves to all of the possibilities beyond just dematerializing documents.
In fact, dematerialization cannot be limited only to the “disappearance” of paper, it must also involve the general processes that surround it, otherwise we risk replicating the same processes, just with a digital component. For this reason, it is necessary that the elimination of paper is accompanied by a rethinking of entire phases and the creation of many advantages for the end customer and user.
For example, in an effective paperless experience, opening and responding to documents received must be faster and more efficient compared to traditional methods. Similarly, it must be easy and immediate to consult a document, just as it is with “classic” paper documents, while the receipt of documents, their collection, and eventual retrieval by the user must be, if possible, even more efficient.
In this sense, it is also essential to guarantee absolute accessibility to the invoicing documents you send: this means that users must be able to open and consult them at any time, from any place, and from any device.
2. From subscription to pay-per-use model
Billing is often linked to subscriptions or the purchase of services that are delivered at regular intervals and that likewise require regular payments.
In fact, the model that is increasingly being considered is one that offers greater flexibility in the billing formula, where the billing system is able to model itself based on the actual use of the service by the client.
In this way, billing flows adapt to the behavior of the individual, who feels more inclined to pay because he actually sees a sensible and justified change in his choices.
Here, we’re talking about a pay-per-use model where flexibility and personalization are concretely reflected in what the customer then receives and pays.
In this way, customers don’t just pay, they pay according to their needs and behaviors: in a certain sense, the flat rate is no longer always good and billing reflects this.
3. Mobile, mobile, and more mobile!
It may seem obvious, but it bears repeating: billing should not only be electronic, above all it must be accessible by smartphones.
By now, in fact, people use mobile devices for a great number of different activities, including checking email and managing many business operations. This means that billing documents– their receipt and consultation– must be designed to ensure they are compatible with this type of device.
If this is not the case, the communication channel will be poorly exploited, making the whole process more cumbersome and inefficient. This implies that any subsequent actions should also be possible through a mobile device.
From this point of view, therefore, it is necessary to rethink the bill sent to the client in such a way that it is also “interactive” and allows the user to take an action in response without the need to do so from other devices or through other pages.
In addition, there is the possibility (which should also be ensured as far as possible) of accepting payments in different ways, perhaps even through digital solutions, in order to meet the needs of clients and “facilitate” the payment phase, which is always very delicate.
4. Data is gained from the invoice
Another interesting trend is the importance of data in the invoicing phase.
It’s now a fact: Big Data is one of a company’s greatest assets. And the better a company is at collecting, managing, and interpreting their big data, the better they are positioned to win over the competition.
It’s no coincidence that many companies are adopting and implementing specific technologies and solutions, for this purpose such as machine learning [link blog], for example.
From this point of view, even electronic invoicing can become an opportunity to collect information about customers, tracking their own behavior: how long it takes them to open the email, if they respond immediately, how long they take to pay, and much more.
All of this information allows you to get to know the people you’re dealing with better and to identify any “weaknesses” in your system, so that you can gradually improve to better meet the needs of individual customers.
Another fundamental aspect that must be kept in mind to build an effective billing experience is simplification, which must be as much in the means used (as we have seen) as in the content.
Often, bills make the recipient feel confused or they may not know how to read what they receive.
An important trend for many companies is to make invoices easier to understand and not only to receive or manage. Clarity is one of the most solid pillars on which to build a relationship of trust between customers and suppliers and electronic invoicing is undoubtedly an excellent opportunity to start this kind of relationship and show a concrete commitment in this sense.
If it’s true that e-invoicing must become a true billing experience, then it needs to develop all the aspects typical of a modern and effective experience.
One of these is undoubtedly personalization, which is one of the main trends that characterizes every relationship between brand and company, and which lends itself to being exploited precisely in the invoicing phase, also because of the “one-to-one” communication dynamic.
To do this, there are many solutions that, among other things, can also contribute to making communication and billing a memorable moment for the customer. One example of this is undoubtedly Doxee Pvideo, Doxee’s personalized and interactive videos.
Doxee Pvideo is a perfect tool for reaching your customers with captivating content, and which is able to capture the attention of your customers in just a few seconds, thanks to dynamic and personalized storytelling, which not only directly addresses the user but even takes shape based on how the user behaves while watching it.
This is possible thanks to the Dynamic Storyboard, offered by Doxee Pvideo®. You can use the Dynamic Storyboard to show or hide individual scenes depending on the recipient’s profile, adapting the narrative to their characteristics, making it highly personalized so that certain actions are simple and immediate.
Implementing such a solution in the billing phase means taking all the previous trends and enhancing them, creating a true billing experience that is not only useful for customers but also improves the positioning for the company.