COMMUNICATION | 10 MIN READ

10 Tips That Will Make Your Customers Happy to Pay You

Written by Michael Wise

Getting payments from your customers can be time consuming and repetitive, and is often on top of all the other responsibilities you have during the work day. It can even be a source of stress and anxiety when you’re chasing after customers with invoices long overdue. However, throughout this process, it’s important to remember at the other end of this account you’re attempting to collect, is a real person.

“Acquiring a new customer is five times as expensive as retaining an existing customer.” – Harvard Business Review (HBR)

Whether you’re collecting for your business, or on behalf of another, customer retention should always be in the back of your mind. Especially, when according to Harvard Business magazine, it costs five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one., it is more profitable for a company to retain its customers rather than trying to win new ones. That research even adds that increasing the customer retention rate allows a company to increase its profits by 25 to 95%!

So, is it even possible to collect from customers and actually make them happy to do it?

Here’s 10 tips that will help you communicate, invoice, and collect from your customers in a way that keeps them happy and satisfied to continue doing business with your company

 

1) You will try to understand why the customer has chosen you

Identifying the reasons why your customer has turned to your company will help you reproduce the conditions that will make them want to stay. In B2B as in B2C, the information search phase is much the same. However, a B2B customer is more inclined to conduct an in-depth analysis of available offers and compare them. However, it is your company that has made a choice.
Don’t forget that your current customer has already gone through the sales cycle. He has been through the full sales cycle and the service has convinced him. Therefore, reinforce his choice when you re-launch him! Used wisely, the time to cash out is a good opportunity to maintain customer relationships.

2) You will show your client that you are listening to him or her

Establishing a successful long-term relationship with a client is a difficult part. To improve the relationship, you need to identify the areas that are still problematic, suggest new ways to improve… in short, show them that you are thinking along with them about how best to serve them! This requires that the company as a whole be involved at every point of contact with him. This includes the UX (User Experience), customer support, consulting services, but also the company management.

3) You will show that you are attentive to the means of interaction that he or she favors

Consider how your client wants to communicate. By which means he wants to interact, (phone call, email etc.) but also when. Some customers will want to interact regularly, while others will prefer to interact with you on a one-off basis. The objective of these interactions is above all to build relationships and get to know the customer. This will allow you to increase the added value of your offer, in order to increase customer loyalty while differentiating yourself from the competition.

4) You will have an in-depth understanding of your client’s purchasing and payment channels

“To get paid by a company, you first need to know its internal system well”. It is not enough to know the specifics of the B2B acquisition tunnel. You need to look at the functioning of the client companies that are of concern to you. For example, look at how the process from purchase decision to payment works for each one. Who decides to pay? On the basis of which part? Who executes the payment order? On the basis of which documents? To get the information you need, suggest that the managers you have identified meet and greet with them. Tell them that you want to know their process so that you can adapt to it. Your client will not be able to refuse. Once there, ask the right questions and write down the answers!

5) You will understand that there are individuals behind the company

Even in B2B, business is done by individuals. That’s why it’s essential to know who you’re dealing with. Social networks such as Linkedin actually present only one aspect of your contacts. Already during a phone call, a customer may seem completely different from the way you represented him online. Finally, no channel gives you a global view of your client. You have to mix and match sources to try to get the best possible understanding of your client’s interests and professional objectives. If you understand what your client is trying to accomplish, you will be able to find ways to help them. For example, you can provide advice, expertise, or even an excellent service provider to contact, and so on.

 

6) You may want to consider setting up client advisory committees (CACs)

Client advisory committees are events that build “In real life” relationships with clients. They can be very effective in building customer loyalty because they provide a forum for discussion, including product and value proposition improvement opportunities. In addition, they help build a shared vision of the future of your relationship. In addition, clients who participate in these committees can become your best ambassadors in the marketplace.

Bevin Maguire and Jane Hiscok explain that they have implemented such committees in their respective companies, IBM and the Farland Group. These committees are very beneficial to them, as they allow them to gather valuable information about their clients’ activities and priorities. They can then improve their go-to-market strategy and approach, while strengthening relationships with their customers. If you have the human, time and financial means to implement them, they will be a real asset.

 

7) You will detect risks before maturity

Failure to pay on time is often due to errors upstream. For example, your invoice may have been sent to the wrong address or mailed too late. The same applies if you have sent it to the wrong person, or if the decision-maker is busy or even on holiday. It may also be that the documents you have provided to your client are not enough to trigger payment… That’s why “you need to detect these risks before it is too late”. Ask your accounting department to make preventive calls to the accounting department of your client companies to check that everything is in order and that there are no obstacles to payment on the due date.

 

8) You will sometimes use the human relationship as a means of pressure

Once the deed of sale has been concluded, what should you do if your client is late in paying you? You can always try the easy way… but what if it still doesn’t work?

Quantify the cost of late payments and put your cards on the table. For example, say, “Our company makes 600,000 dollars a year in turnover with your company. On average, you pay with a delay of 15 days. It may seem trivial to you, but it generates a permanent cash flow gap of 25,000 dollars for us… And we are obliged to finance it by factoring. This costs us 2,000 dollars a year.” We would simply like to make you understand that a small structure like that cannot absorb such costs.

 

9) You will use the human relationship to establish a long-term vision of the business relationship

A customer may be satisfied with your product, but if the exchanges with your sales or billing department are too much of work, it will encourage him to go elsewhere… Especially in the current context of automation of companies and strong competition, where it is sometimes complicated to find the time to maintain quality customer relations. According to Bevin Maguire and Jane Hiscok, the best way to maintain a good business relationship is to schedule regular 30-minute phone conversations with your customers. But the call shouldn’t seem artificial. You must ensure that there is a real exchange on the client’s strategic issues, whether they are directly related to your offer or not. The goal is to identify the client and his needs in their entirety.

 

10) You will put in place measures to speed up the collection process

For example, especially if you are selling a service, you could give a preferential rate, or a discount (say, 1-3%) on the next purchase of your product to companies that pay you before the invoice due date. This type of measure is common in B2B, where balancing accounts receivable is paramount. A well-established collection process will help you avoid entering the vicious circle of bank loans that compensate for late payments while adding new fees to your business.

All in all, it is now more important than ever to build long-lasting and prosperous business relationships. All the more so in a context of strong competition and the automation of companies, where perpetual hunting for new customers can be very costly. We hope that these few tips will help you make the collection process more favorable for your company and for the customer.

 

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