“Self-service has evolved well beyond the initial buying decision. Once they have made a purchase or signed up for a new service, customers tend to expect total control over their accounts, including billing. That’s why companies should consider billing to be an extension of the customer experience.”

- Gotransverse Founder & CEO James Messer, in Forbes

This month in Forbes, Gotransverse Founder, and CEO James Messer wrote about how the rising demand for self-service technology has increased pressure on businesses to view billing as an integral piece of the customer experience. We encourage you to read the full article in Forbes, but we’ll share the highlights here.

Customers, Messer says, want complete control over and full transparency around their transactions. He notes the market for self-service technology is currently growing at a compound annual growth rate of 6.7 percent. And in many ways, those two demands — transparency and control — go hand in hand.

“As the CEO of a company that offers an intelligent billing and subscription management platform,” Messer says. “I’ve seen firsthand that promoting transparency in billing is an important factor in giving customers greater control over their service experience.”

What’s in it for companies that work to meet those demands? According to a report from McKinsey, which Messer cites in Forbes, improving the customer experience can reduce churn by up to 10% to 15%. This, in turn, leads to increased profits.

Sold on the idea of enhancing the customer experience through self-service options that provide both control and transparency, but not sure where to start? Messer discusses that, too.

Self-Service Billing: Bringing the Back Office to the Front

If traditional billing straddles the gap between internal processes and customer-facing interactions, self-service billing brings it all into the front office.

Companies must recognize that their billing platform allows access to trustworthy invoice presentations, online payment options, dispute resolution, and tracking. Why? Because these services offer account visibility and, more importantly, they eliminate payment delays.

Achieving this level of access and transparency requires frictionless back-office integration — meaning all the systems that drive business processes must work seamlessly together from the initial quote to the final payment recognition, providing both internal teams and customers with all the information they need.

“Transparency is essential for a positive customer experience, but it is also vital for smooth internal operations and analytics. The billing engine needs to access and present all the necessary information to satisfy customer needs and provide insight to sales, customer support, and senior management.” - James Messer

So, what must a billing engine be able to support to create the self-service experience customers are looking for? Messer identifies four critical components of the quote-to-cash process:

  • Product Catalog: This inventory of goods, services, and pricing information gives customers control over their shopping experience and purchase planning. And, to be truly effective, the product catalog must be integrated with inventory management to ensure customers are aware of any backorders and aren’t seeing out-of-stock goods.
  • Payments: Customers should be able to log in to review and pay current invoices and review payment histories, manage payment terms, renew subscriptions, and even handle disputes over any potential billing errors. (Though, if all systems are integrated and operating smoothly and transparently, those billing errors should be few and far between.)
  • Customer Contract Management: From allowing customers to update billing information to avoid late payments, to issuing notifications for late fees, renewals, etc., to canceling expired contracts, these back-office contract management processes become up close and personal to customers in a self-service model.
  • Internal Transaction Management: Finally, a billing engine that powers self-service billing must efficiently and effectively consolidate systems data to give customers near-real-time insights into their accounts. Additionally, the engine must enable the internal teams to configure (and reconfigure) the self-service options, managing how much data a customer can access and how much control they have.

Billing: The Core of the Customer Experience

The customer experience isn’t anyone facet of branding or product positioning; instead, it’s a process that begins when a potential buyer shows interest in a company’s offerings and keeps going as long as they are a customer. And, all the way from quote to cash, the billing engine has the power to make or break that customer experience.

“When it comes to customer self-service, I would argue that billing is probably the most common customer experience…” concludes Messer. “Your billing system is also likely the best tool you have to manage the customer experience.”

At Gotransverse, we pride ourselves on empowering companies to turn their billing engines into powerful customer experience engines, with integrated systems, transparent billing processes, and the ability to offer control over account and payment options. To learn more about our powerful, agile billing solution, we invite you to take a virtual tour of our billing platform today. Then, when you’re ready, request a demo to learn more.