A strategic perspective on invoice-to-cash
Get a fresh perspective on improving the invoicing experience.
So you’ve been tasked with improving productivity on the billing front. You’ve analyzed your systems and processes – and determined your shoe string budget and stretched resources offer little upside. You’ve explored the daunting path of system consolidation – too much time, not enough resources. So now what do you do? You shift your focus from the billing mechanics to the resulting invoicing experience. And open up a slew of hidden costs that are draining your productivity and profits.
What’s the biggest hidden billing cost? The dreaded inquiry. For most usage-based service providers, these invoice-related questions represent more than 80% of all customer inquiries.
Why so many questions about invoices? As you know, from an insider’s point of view, billing has become quite convoluted over the past few years. The speed at which your company is bringing new products and services to market far exceeds the pace at which your billing is evolving. Take a telecom operator for example. In any given year, they could easily roll out 20+ new products, each producing different data and unique charging models.
The constant flux of acquired and legacy systems, ever-expanding product catalogs and new charging models aren’t just a headache for your billing team. It’s become almost impossible for business customers to understand their invoices without being translated by a billing expert.
And herein lies the problem. If you’re like most companies, the majority of invoice inquiries can be summed up in one quote: “I don’t understand my charges.” It’s not questions regarding payments or adjustment requests. It’s questions about what this charge is for, why was I charged this amount, and how I can be sure my charges are accurate.
As you’ve witnessed, these seemingly simple inquiries can quickly snowball into complex investigations. Your support and billing teams don’t have a single place to ‘find the answer’. Instead, they’re forced to navigate through varying systems and data types – and ultimately translate your internal system lingo into something the customer can actually comprehend (and be willing to accept).
Depending on the complexity of the customers’ portfolio, this can take hours or even weeks to get to a point of resolution. And of course, that comes with a cost. Some companies report upwards of $500 to resolve invoice inquiries from their enterprise customers. Multiply this across thousands of customers, most of whom are receiving 5+ invoices per month, and you can see how this quickly becomes a multi-million dollar problem.
So what’s the silver lining? This hidden cost, as well as others, aren’t a direct tie to the nuts and bolts of your billing. Customers don’t care about the mess that lurks behind your company’s walls and servers. They care about getting the information they need to be as efficient as possible.
And this is where your productivity play comes to fruition. Outside of your products and services themselves, invoicing is the most important interaction your company has with its customers. And with importance, comes opportunity.
Looking for the upside potential of addressing the ‘I don’t understand my charges’ issue? Use this infographic to get an idea of the impact it could be having on your productivity and profits.
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Take a minute to tell us how you use invoicing to communicate with your customers.