“Going paperless” and focusing on “sustainability” might sound like buzzwords, but there are good reasons to take them seriously, especially if your business aims to be more customer-focused.
First and foremost, there’s no question that going paperless is a positive step toward becoming more environmentally friendly. This is something that customers, particularly in 2020, are more conscious of than ever before.
However, reducing your business’s waste, limiting your carbon footprint, and helping the planet, are all part of adopting sustainability as a core business value. By creating a sustainable business, it means you’re thinking about your company as a whole, and how the decisions that you make will impact your customers and staff.
That said, the truth is that adopting a sustainable approach is about more than just helping the environment. It’s a personal commitment from your company to deliver a fantastic service. To do that, you need to get organised, improve processes, and ensure everyone is on the same—digital—page, all so that you can:
- Create an awesome customer journey
- Reduce friction for customers and your staff
- Improve your cash-flow to encourage growth
Going paperless and becoming sustainable is a process: it’s not something to rush if you want to do it well! This is why we’re breaking down and tackling one aspect of it in this article: Paperless Invoicing.
Read on as we consider why you should implement this feature, how it impacts your sustainability, and the effect it has on your cash-flow, too!
1. Create an awesome customer journey
Let me start here by asking a question: hands up who’s ever been frustrated whilst trying to make a payment for a product or service? I don’t imagine there’s a single one of you, dear reader, who wouldn’t raise their hand.
In the same way, I’m sure we can agree that money isn’t something you want to worry about and I'm also positive you’d hate for your customers to experience problems when it comes to making a payment to your business...
After all, a bad experience can:
- Put them off from using your services again
- Cause delays in payment
- Upset customers as well
Money can be a touchy subject, especially if it’s the result of an unexpected emergency they needed fixing and most people will want things done and dusted so they can get on with their lives.
However, if you’ve not taken steps to take your invoicing online, you may find you’re already dealing with frustrated customers…
Now that most customer journeys predominantly take place online; with emails, text messaging, and mobile apps becoming the main way that customers interact with businesses, it means that solving payment problems is now a lot easier.
From checking estimates to confirming quotes, to making the final payment, it’s hardly a secret that digital interactions are an improvement on the old fashioned way of invoicing and bookkeeping.
They’re quick, clear, and secure: a trifecta of points that can lead to a positive experience.
For invoicing, a lot of companies will now provide a link via email that leads customers to a secure payment page (or booking portal) that you can access at the press of a button, fill in the details, and complete.
Easy as pie, right?
The experience is pretty much seamless from the moment you get the email notification to the final confirmation. That means no waiting around, no worry misinterpreting payment details, and no delays.
After all, “approximately 95% of households in the United Kingdom (UK) own a mobile phone” and with devices being "smarter" than ever, it makes sense that you’re using solutions that tap in to the convenience people already know, love, and expect.
We’ve spoken before about how other digital portals, whether it’s for booking requests, estimates, or feedback, help to improve the customer experience; just as with those, it makes sense to ensure your entire customer journey is optimised to provide satisfaction.
2. You’re reducing friction for customers and your staff.
Nowhere else is a frustration-free feeling more welcome than when it comes to money. By improving inefficient processes, you’re reducing the friction that’s experienced by your employees and your customers alike.
Think of companies like Uber or Amazon.
They’ve reduced the steps it tasks to get a result (whether that be a taxi or that new jacket you didn’t know you needed) by creating incredibly intuitive, easy-to-use services; they’ve not created something new, but they have optimised the customer journey.
Even if you leave out the back-end data that drives their services, the visual side of things plays heavily in to this as well. Whether it’s their apps or websites, it’s all simple stuff: with distinct buttons (that look good not garish) and clear information laid out in a way that’s designed to help you make decisions quickly, easily, and without confusion.
We can (hopefully) guess which of these you think is best...
On a small scale (but no less impactful) making use of an invoice portal leads customers along a smooth journey to a similarly happy conclusion, every time. It means you don’t have to chase customers, they don’t feel harassed, but enabled to reach a solution.
By taking the same approach and adopting digital invoicing to tidy up an otherwise paper-heavy, time consuming process, you can reduce the administration burden of producing invoices, limit having to manually sending them to customers, and stop having to record those details back into your system (or, god forbid, your filing cabinets).
For customers, it makes the payment process incredibly easy. Information is clear, accurate, and accessible from just about anywhere they can get an internet connection (be that the rain-forest, mountain-top, or their own living room: it’s up to them!)
3. You’re improving your cash-flow to encourage growth
By focusing on creating a sustainable business, you’re laying a foundation for growth, and grow is what you want your business to do, right?
A customer who’s slow to pay is a customer who’s frustrating your ability to achieve that goal. They may not be doing it intentionally (though, of course, you’ll still have the occasional difficult customer), but it’s obviously not helping if your invoicing process isn’t optimised.
Another benefit of paperless invoicing is how you can record data instantaneously, utilising cloud data as well to share live in the office, or out in the field. Notifications can also help make staff aware when an invoice is sent, received, and paid.
Knowing what stage a customer is at, where your money is, and when it’s expected, will make your life a lot easier. That also makes the way you use your cash a lot more helpful as well and can stop your accountant from getting frustrated by delays and unclear data.
It’s true that field services can often be hampered by delays and funds can be difficult to manage with expenses for parts, time, and more, causing delays. A portal system can improve the odds of reducing non-payments so they can see exactly what they're owed and take steps to get paid it straight away. As such, if you can streamline that process as much as possible, you’re only going to improve the chances of optimising your cash flow.
If you’re taking your invoice process online, you’re opening yourself up to a whole host of perks but most importantly, you’re giving customers access to a service that they expect, and that any good business should want (and need) to provide that for their customers.
When both your customers and your staff are happy, the benefits will overflow to your finances, improve customer retention, and even help to keep you competitive!
If you’re keen for more, then check out the guide we’ve prepared below on How To Send An Invoice That Customers will Pay. The eBook is designed to help you prepare invoices that give a subtle but powerful nudge to help you get paid on time.
With guidelines and template suggestions for email and invoices, download yours, FREE:Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn if you’ve got questions you’d like us to answer.