Why should you pay attention to the billing experience? Sending an invoice or bill has always been a classic point of contact between a company and its customers. Traditionally, these are standardized communications both in appearance and content and, it goes without saying, communications that are not particularly appealing because they primarily respond to administrative or regulatory objectives; think of Bill 2.0. Moreover, when we talk about electronic invoices, we are referring to a type of document that must also meet precise form requirements prescribed by the laws in force.
But who says things can’t change? Of course, invoices or bills can’t be eliminated, nor can we escape the regulatory constraints to which they must be subjected. However, it is certainly possible to look at them from a new perspective and rediscover the hidden potential behind the digitization of this important touchpoint. All too often, this step becomes a wasted opportunity, whereas it could become a key moment to communicate with customers and collect, at the same time, data and information useful to structure a lasting relationship that is mutually beneficial. The complete digitalization of invoicing and payment processes and, in general, of the relationships between companies and end customers, once again proves to be the trump card in this scenario.
Why should you pay attention to the billing experience?
To maximize the benefits we can get from a new billing experience, we can’t leave anything to chance. We need to think of the bill or invoice as an element that we can use to improve the relationship with our customers and also as an opportunity to reduce the costs of operational processes; think for example of the opportunity to reduce calls to customer care.
Invoices should be simple, clear, and easy to interpret. Payment information is still the main content of this type of communication, so it must be immediately identifiable and easily understood by the end consumer, who will otherwise immediately develop a negative feeling about the experience.
Structuring the billing experience to make it richer and more satisfying overall helps strengthen the relationship with the end customer and ultimately increase loyalty.
Going beyond the simple invoice, then, means transforming it into a moment of communication rich with new insights. While making all the essential information available on the invoice, the amount and the payment method, it is possible to then take the opportunity to offer information on additional services and products, which can be the key to triggering cross-selling and upselling mechanisms. Furthermore, as we will see, it is possible (indeed, it is advisable) to design the moment of receipt of the invoice or bill in such a way as to include elements of interactivity and personalization. From a simple “message,” the bill becomes a tool for the end user, which can be used proactively to access information and activate new services, all in complete autonomy.
That’s why it’s definitely worth paying attention to the billing experience that is proposed to the end customer. Let’s take a look at some of the strategies that can be implemented to model a billing experience that is satisfactory for the customer and profitable for the company.
Tips & tricks for a winning billing experience
As we mentioned above, the first essential requirement to start from in order to structure a winning billing experience is the clarity and completeness of the information, so that the end user can have, first of all, the data that is essential for him.
Another aspect not to be underestimated is multi-channeling. Allowing the customer to choose how to receive their bill or invoice is a very important added value and represents an element of flexibility and convenience that is now almost taken for granted. Allowing customers to access their bills at any time and from any device is therefore an essential aspect.
But a further step is represented by the possibility to go beyond the classic bill in PDF, sent by email, and make a personalized mini-website available to them. Through this, the customer can have constant access to their bills and can always have all the necessary information available, as well as information on their consumption and deadlines, and charts that they can consult. Moreover, you can also take advantage of the information collected to propose offers and targeted content, able to really pique the interest of our customer.
But it doesn’t end there. Structuring the billing experience in this way not only brings advantages for the customer, but also for the company. In fact, the introduction of personalization elements allows you to trigger, when necessary, properly structured soft collection mechanisms that make it possible to recover the credit due, while safeguarding the relationship with the customer.
Finally, to further enrich our mini-site, we could also introduce a personalized video, which can be used effectively to convey information in a dynamic and innovative way. In fact, thanks to the video mode, it is easier to insert, if necessary, mini-tutorials that can explain those steps that may be more “cryptic” or need additional clarification, such as the items of expenditure or possible methods of payment. On the contrary, exploiting these solutions to simplify the customer experience and automate payment processes as much as possible leads to a reduction in calls to customer care and streamlines processes, generating savings both in terms of time and financial resources employed.
The effort employed in the design phase of the billing experience, executed in the ways that we have described so far, translates ultimately into a series of operational and tangible benefits for both the customer and the company, outlining a win-win scenario.
Objectives to keep in mind
Ultimately, in order to achieve a fully digitized and satisfying billing experience, you must always have in mind a few key concepts around which to design the billing service and which allow you to guarantee the end consumer at least these fundamental aspects:
- Control and transparency: One of the advantages of digitization and automation of processes is their greater transparency. Digital billing and payment processes are systematically tracked and remain available not only to the company, but also to the consumer, who can check his consumption and any deadlines at any time, access his documents through multi-channel options, and thus maintain full control over these aspects;
- Simplicity and speed of payments: It is important to provide precise indications on the possible payment methods, exploiting the digital tools available to make interactive tutorials available and to provide integrations with instant payment solutions and banking services;
- Personalization of the service: Inserting elements of personalization, using the data collected on customers to structure tailored communications shows attention to the specific needs and requirements of the consumer and translates into more effective communication and a more satisfying customer experience. The same data on consumption and invoices can be useful for proposing targeted offers and promotions, transforming a document that risks being a simple courtesy copy into a driver for cross-selling and upselling mechanisms.
As we have seen, there are many ways that you can give your invoice a new look and guarantee these must-have requirements. All that remains is to choose the most valid option from time to time and one that can meet the specific needs of each company and its end users.
Reconciling compliance and customer experience: it can be done
As we know, and as we mentioned at the beginning, invoices and bills are documents that have a precise legal value and, consequently, must contain certain information. Above all, since they are electronic invoices, they must be structured according to the XML format currently prescribed by Italian law, regulated by Presidential Decree 633/72 and known as FatturaPA. Often regulatory and compliance constraints tend to scare you and are often seen as constraints that limit your reach. Sometimes you just need to look at things from a different angle.
In light of what we’ve written so far, therefore, the question that arises is the following: Is it possible to reconcile compliance with regulatory constraints, which are obviously unavoidable, with the need to create a customer experience that meets our clients’ expectations? The answer, of course, is yes. In order to reconcile these two aspects, it is sufficient to prepare, on the one hand, a typical electronic invoice in XML, compliant with the standards and able to undergo a process of digital storage for the minimum period of 10 years prescribed by law. On the other hand, it will be necessary to design and prepare a courtesy copy that offers a high level of customer experience.
The importance of choosing the right provider
Since the right billing experience, as we’ve seen, can make all the difference, it’s important to choose an electronic invoicing provider that can offer each company the right support in this process, minimizing the effort required. In order to establish effective communication with your end customers, it’s not enough to use a provider that can create compliant invoices. It becomes essential to rely on the expertise of a provider that is also able to support them in creating a customer experience that meets expectations: a single provider that can reconcile both needs and harmonize the rigidity of regulatory constraints with the flexibility needed to create personalized and more effective communications.