One of my specialties is helping businesses improve their transactional aspects, so I think it’s a good time to think about redesigning invoices and improving the payment process. As you prepare for the new year, consider these five points in redesigning your billing process.
Is it time to redesign your bills? Does your invoice look like it did when your company was founded in 1975? If your invoice is so retro that shag carpet shakes its head, give it a makeover. Remodeling an invoice is a little like remodeling your house. If you haven’t updated it in a while, a total makeover might be in order. Gather your team to talk about problems they see with your current invoice. Is info lacking? How crisp is your design? Is it easy to read and understand? When we assist companies with a redesign — we’ve helped more than 100, by the way — we create several designs and they choose the one that is best for their needs. We keep tweaking it–with their input–until it is just right.
As you adjust your invoice’s design, you might end up with more white space. We remind clients that those areas are prime real estate and can be used to communicate other messages. For ideas, collect samples of invoices used by those in your industry and others. We work with a lot of utility companies, and many send pertinent information to customers via their bills, for example, “Call before you dig,” or “Stay away from downed power lines.” Another example? A health care company that includes health tips like “Get your flu shot!” on its bills.
Like all technology, printing has improved over time. For example, we just installed a sophisticated digital inkjet printer that will eliminate the need to print thousands of shells for letters and invoices and allow us to print both the letter and letterhead simultaneously. This capability prevents waste. We’ve had to recycle reams of pre-printed letterhead or invoices when a client changes their logo or moves to new offices, for example. This new printer also allows us to use pops of color and make invoices, letters, and newsletters more lively.
You can use messages on your invoice to push more customers to sign up to pay online and perhaps even offer them a small incentive or reward to make the switch. Some experts say that businesses may have hit a plateau in signing customers up for options like e-payment, but I think that the more that people are exposed to AI and other technology, the more comfortable they will become with digital payment. You also have to remember that in a little more than a year, Gen Z, those kids that have always had tech in hand, will be 40 percent of the population. They are future bill payers and the most likely audience to opt for a digital way to pay.
It often makes sense to contract with a specialist to handle parts of your business. This is especially true with transactional. When you tally the costs of preparing bills in-house — especially the staff and time it takes to prepare and mail bills–it is easy to see the payoff of having a third-party handle this process. After our clients send us the data needed to prepare their bills (through a secure network, by the way) we can print and mail them in a day’s time. Can your staff do that? The faster the bills get to your customers, the quicker they will pay.
Have a wonderful holiday season! If you want to talk about redoing your invoices and billing process, or using a third-party for your payment process, give us a call.
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