For professional service providers, there can be a dread and procrastination when it comes to billing customers. I can understand. It can feel like drudgery when viewed as something separate from your core business.
However, I have found that billing is much more than just a transaction. It is another touch point and opportunity to create a customer experience. Thus, it is worthwhile to see it as an integrated piece of your overall service, not a disparate obligation.
Committing to a System
I like to use FreshBooks because it’s not only easy, but because it has grown up around service providers. It is also a lot of fun to use. There is a lot of thought within its design and flow and I believe the tools we use should be enjoyable. Otherwise, they become demotivating to use over time.
So, I look forward to working in this system for its ease of use.
Once a client is set up with their billing information, it is easy to get in and create invoices and send them.
You can send those invoices by email or by snail mail. Most people prefer a digital interaction. When you send out the invoice via email, you can add additional correspondence and monitor the open and viewing of each invoice as part of a feedback loop.
I work with clients to integrate this system with their other databases for selling, service and support. This helps to create more efficiency for providing your service.
Your client gets a world-class experience in the design elements and layout presented to them from the billing interface.
Furthermore, there is the ability to pay by credit card or check online if this is all hooked up.
Making an Experience
As you reflect and input the details of a bill into an invoice, think about how to phrase each item. Capture what the value of the service was rather than just merely the task. For example, you might want to enter “Design Services to Increase Lead Capture” which emphasizes why the service was provided.
It is a focus on the value and moves away from phrasing that feels obligatory and sterile.
Part of providing service is managing the customer experience and framing what the value is. When intangibles are being delivered, this is critical and your billing is one more opportunity to highlight how your service matters in the context of your customer’s business or life.
Also, be sure to use the correspondence area to express your excitement and gratitude for your customer’s business. Let them know how you enjoy working with them and your hope for their business.
Part of being a trusted advisor is letting your customer know you are on their side and you are thinking deeply about the things that matter to them. Be sure your comments reflect this. Make it human and put thought and emotion into your correspondence. It helps to frame your relationship as well as highlight the value of your service.
Ultimately, your customer should be excited about paying your bill. This comes down to the value they receive and how they perceive the value and relationship altogether.
How are you handling your billing? Do you have other ways to make it an experience rather than a mere transaction?