As both B2B and B2C consumers demand more control, flexibility, and value from the brands they buy from, businesses that want to attract and retain loyal customers know just how important it is to create a frictionless experience through every step of the process.

In a recent Forbes article, Gotransverse founder and CEO James Messer takes a deep dive into how billing can be used to create that seamless customer experience. “Customer billing also must accommodate new buying trends,” he says. “Just as customers have come to expect a frictionless, self-service shopping experience, they expect that same omnichannel, seamless experience when it comes to paying the invoice. Merchants and suppliers need billing solutions to adapt and reinforce that positive buying experience.”

True, it may seem easy enough to spit out an invoice at the end of a transaction. Still, in fact, billing is a critical process that is a lot more involved than it seems, from mediating usage throughout the month to accepting payment smoothly in any form — and doing it all quickly, accurately, and on time. Savvy vendors understand that, and they know the importance of an agile billing system that is flexible and powerful enough to meet both customer expectations and corporate objectives.

Here are five ways frictionless billing can make for a successful customer experience from quote to cash — if it’s done right.

1. Pricing Agility and Omnichannel Buying

This topic is perhaps the most obvious function of billing, but a sophisticated, customer-driven system does more than add prices to products. It empowers vendors to go beyond a single, static price list and offers a variety of pricing and packaging options designed to meet customers’ expectations and to evolve with their needs.

For businesses relying on legacy ERP and accounting systems, it's often difficult to modify, add, or bundle products and services without leading to SKU proliferation and a logistical circus. As a result, changes often require subject matter experts and can take significant time to implement — customers are likely to spend that time finding a new brand to support.

And with today’s customer focus on omnichannel buying — purchasing directly from brands or through marketplaces, buying bundles and subscriptions to suit their needs, etc. — this agility is even more critical than ever. “Subscription and usage-based billing platforms need to adapt to different billing models, such as direct-to-customer, marketplace billing, and bundled offerings,” says Messer in Forbes. “That includes accurate revenue mapping to accommodate other channels, channel partners, and business models.”

2. Transparency & Control

Today’s consumers and corporate buyers are accustomed to having limitless information at their fingertips, and they expect the same from the customer billing experience. This action includes easy-to-follow pricing options and clear, consistent follow-up notifications regarding their purchase or order status and setup. But beyond that, they want to be able to check their status at a moment's notice — how much of their allotment have they used this month? Did their last payment go through? Will that discount be applied to the next invoice? Total transparency in the billing process gives customers the insights they want — and helps the accounting team ensure everything is running smoothly at every stage.

With this crystal-clear transparency, customers seek more control over their transactions. They want to be able to log on and get that status updates themselves — on any device and at a moment’s notice — rather than waiting on updates or having to call for them. “Self-service account management should be simple,” says Messer, “allowing customers to change personal information and the terms of the relationship.”

And the same is true when it’s time to make a payment. “Just as customers have come to expect a frictionless, self-service shopping experience, they expect that same omnichannel, seamless experience when it comes to paying the invoice," says Messer, concluding that "Giving customers more control over transactions improves the buying experience.”

3. Integrations

An intelligent billing system must communicate with other systems as effectively as it does with the customer, integrating seamlessly with sales, fulfillment, support, and other financial systems.

If the disparate systems in your network or ecosystem don’t integrate seamlessly with one another, you’ll reduce the value of each product due to wasted time and effort. Before you know it, your team will spend more time babysitting platforms than doing their jobs. And all that disfunction will trickle down to the customers. When systems don't play well together — when they require significant manual intervention to process data and pass information from one process to the next — that results in delays and inaccuracies in order fulfillment, invoicing, and more, adding additional unwanted friction to the customer experience.

The stakes for these integration capabilities become even higher as customers—and the businesses that serve them—turn to marketplaces more frequently for their needs. In a recent blog post on billing and settlements for marketplaces, Gotransverse head of product Jay Irion noted the additional challenges these models pose:

“…part of the appeal of marketplaces to customers is that they can purchase goods from a variety of brands in one transaction. It's up to the marketplace to divvy the funds among the various sellers. While traditional billing systems and manual calculations may have gotten the job done in the early days when there were just a few sellers and a handful of transactions, these same systems fall apart in the face of growth.”

4. Accuracy

Humans make mistakes. More mistakes will be made as more manual processes are put in place to accommodate gaps in a billing system. And this is especially true as billing becomes more complicated—with marketplaces, self-service portals, and other offerings—to meet other consumer demands. “Technology remains a crucial component. Automation is needed to maintain accurate billing across multiple channels,” says Messer. “As billing technology becomes more tightly integrated and sophisticated, transactions will increasingly be automated to boost accuracy and reduce revenue leakage.”

Automating the billing processes removes human error, relying on set rules and processes to ensure accurate and timely invoices. Customers expect this, and anything less will hurt your relationship and ultimately end in a churned customer for your business.

5. Identification of New Opportunities

More than simply being adept at handling purchases, intelligent billing systems need to be proactive, analyzing customer behavior to reduce churn and identify new opportunities based on purchase and usage data. This could mean recommending add-ons based on products and services often purchased in tandem, soliciting relevant follow-on sales, or automating renewals for subscription models. Or it could mean implementing various usage-based pricing models to increase recurring revenue opportunities and offer customers additional value. These models come in many forms, and businesses may use one or more to fit their needs and customers.

The Right Billing Platform for the Job

In today's complicated and evolving business landscape, where the power has shifted from the supplier to the buyer, a billing system that doesn’t include the above capabilities is liable to detract from the customer experience, jeopardizing not only initial sales but invaluable follow-on opportunities as well.

“As a new generation of digital natives moves up the ranks in the workplace, their consumer buying habits are reflected at work,” says Messer. “Just as consumers are used to a seamless shopping experience, they expect the same types of interactions for business purchases.”

The Gotransverse platform is built to ensure a frictionless customer experience from beginning to end. Suppose your organization is looking to adopt an agile billing platform to help enhance the customer journey and the bottom line. In that case, we invite you to take a virtual tour of the Gotransverse platform today. Then, when you’re ready, request a demo to speak directly with one of our experts.