According to James Messer of Forbes, Collections should not hurt CX (customer experience). That is easy to say but making your reminders and Dunning process customer-friendly, while still being firm, is an art. Our head of Customer Success, Paul McCue tells us that friendly reminders letters and suggested call scripts can go a long way to instilling a winning mindset in your Finance team and leaving customers pleased you called, rather than embarrassed.
Well worded letters
In the business to business world, reminders letters don’t need to be scary to attract attention. The chances are, the customer is not evading the payment, just delaying for internal reasons of process or policy. Accounts Payable managers do not resent paying for goods and services their company consumes. They often have little or no feelings about the products or services. They do, however, have feelings about their Accounts Receivable counterparts, especially those responsible for harshly worded letters. Keeping the tone of the letters positive and adding a modern touch of design can make your Dunning letters appreciated, coming across as something helpful.
Working with our clients to adjust the tone of reminders letters has proved especially powerful in helping medium-sized companies pay promptly. In larger organisations, where Accounts Payable is automated, few people actually care what the reminders say or how they look, since the data is all that gets carried through the customer organisation. Friendly, well-designed reminders go down well, however, and leave a lasting impression, on the smaller firms in which invoices are retrieved from self-service portals using a secure link sent by email. A positive tone of voice and a pleasant, well laid out design can help your business stand out from others, leaving a positive impression on Accounts Payable managers.
Revenue gains, not just revenue collection
Automated payment reminders can help speed up the order to cash process time and minimise churn. As James Messer of Forbes writes, “Retaining a customer using automated dunning and collections is a fraction of the cost of new customer acquisition. If you can use automation to maintain ongoing communications with the customer, you can substantially reduce churn. What’s more, you also get the opportunity to educate customers to cross-sell and upsell.”
The idea that your Dunning or Collections process could help upsell and cross-sell may not be commonly applied in the Business to Business arena, but in more consumer-focused organisations, this has long been a favoured tactic. Any customer touchpoint is seen as fair game when it comes to encouraging purchases. However, Two of our Corrivo clients are masters at this; They sell office supplies and are keenly aware that the recipients of the Reminders letters are also potential consumers of their goods.
There are examples from the days of paper invoicing when inserts with letters were commonplace but those sending invoices digitally have not been so keen to use the opportunity that billing presents. Our software allows clients to combine any number of associated documents with their invoices, and some do add promotional messages with their invoices or use a window on the invoice format itself for highlighting sales related information.
Later payers will spot a scripted call if they have the same conversation each time they have overdue invoices. Winning phrases, however, and key statements can be provided on a ‘battle card’ for collections agents tasked with chasing customer payables managers. Having such phrases and battlecards handy whenever a call is scheduled is easy with the right software. It’s not foolproof if your collections team relies on paper or having scripts in a separate window on their computer.
One of our clients found that by allowing Collections agents to keep notes of their reminders calls with the invoices, any other team members could easily step in and pick up if a colleague was unwell or absent. A few on-screen notes are far more accessible when needed than recorded calls, which are seldom available on-demand to those who need it.