I'd list invoicing clients as one of my least favorite experiences in life.
Sure, most clients are great about paying promptly, but others like to use you as their bank and have you front their out-of-pocket expenses. And, then there are those customers who keep "misplacing" the original invoice and ask you to re-send it, month after month after month.
Regardless of the relationship, I must admit I never, ever, dreamed that a monthly invoice can actually be an opportunity to not only deepen existing relationships but actually upsell them!
I was completely unaware of the opportunity until a company called Broadridge, provider of technology solutions for customer communications, hired us. Broadridge helps brands that send monthly bills and statements to consumers deepen those relationships through those bills. While we send invoices to clients, it got me thinking differently.
So if you run a business that interacts regularly with consumers through bills, statements or other similar communications, imagine turning these transactions into a new revenue stream.
I recently spoke with Rob Krugman, Broadridge's Chief Digital Officer, who provided these tips to help your business increase engagement which, in turn, can deepen your customer relationships, establish loyalty and drive revenue.
1. Tailor It: Whether the communication is via print or digital, adding customized information brings additional value to the consumer. For example, instead of a regional utility company simply providing the total owed for the electric bill, that company can show year-over-year electricity use and provide tips on how to save energy. Personalized content is becoming more important than ever before with more than a third of consumers demanding customized and more relevant information.
You can tailor content by segmenting clients into groups based upon demographic information. These initial segments plus information about customers' relationships enable your company to begin to personalize the content. Over time, you will gather information about how consumers are using the communication which allows your business to migrate from segments into personalized communications. This continuous improvement process provides you with the opportunity to introduce new concepts and content.
2. Consider the Cloud: Consider going a step further to deepen that relationship. Imagine if that same customized content from the utility company was also interactive, enabling consumers to click on certain data points and retrieve additional personalized information and compare/contrast energy usage at different points in the year. Leveraging the cloud allows businesses and consumers to interact in new and more meaningful ways. In addition, many consumers today use digital channels, such as Amazon, Dropbox and Evernote to store photos and important documents. Some consumers are now opting to receive their bills through these digital channels and your brand can create new opportunities with your consumers if you meet them where they already are in the cloud.
Through digital delivery, you can reduce costs associated with invoicing (printing, postage, etc). And, enabling customers to pay digitally can reduce payment float by 10 to 15 days.
3. Know Your Consumer: In addition to knowing if and where your consumer is interacting in the cloud, such as via a digital channel, know exactly how your customer prefers to receive your bills. One of our clients made the mistake of eliminating print altogether when moving over to digital. To their surprise, customers who always paid on time were all of a sudden missing their payments. The company discovered that many customers wanted both print and digital copies of their bills. They would store the digital copy online, perhaps in a digital channel. They could interact with it and get more value, and then pay the bill online. But the print copy reminded them when to pay!
4. Don't Leave Money on the Table: Digital delivery of communications enables you to highlight services that provide added value and presents an opportunity to discuss these services and potentially upsell.
I'm in the process of forwarding this column to our Accounts Payable people and making it mandatory reading. I think I may also ask them to include a single red rose with each invoice. It never hurts to tell the client how much you love him. Oh, and by the way, the check's in the mail.