We’ve talked a lot on this blog about how the billing process is crucial to the customer experience, which is true for both B2B and B2C companies. From the very first presales discussion on, every step in the quote-to-cash process is an opportunity to provide a frictionless customer experience — including a frictionless behind-the-scenes experience. But then why does billing so often seem like an afterthought? Because, when done correctly, the customer hardly notices it’s happening. They check their invoice quickly and, when nothing seems amiss, they hand over cash, swipe a card, or type in the number (if they’re not just letting autopay take care of it), and that’s all there is to it.

But as many businesses have learned the hard way, creating that frictionless experience is easier said than done. In businesses with simple pricing models and low client volumes, billing may be fairly straightforward. But as a company grows its client base and starts to adopt more complex models to meet customers’ evolving needs, the systems that handled simple transactions so gracefully start to falter. Suddenly, invoices are delayed or inaccurate, automatic payments fail, subscriptions don’t renew properly (or renew at the wrong price). Before you know it, customers are very aware of the billing process but not in a good way.

How Can Businesses Keep Billing Behind the Scenes?

A recent Pymnts.com article put it this way: “On the path to making B2B payments invisible, payment solution providers must close the gap between the buyers making the payment and the suppliers accepting it.” The challenge is, of course, that payment service providers — billing platforms — aren’t one size fits all, and not every billing system will fit perfectly into your company’s pricing models.

As you search for a platform thatdoes perfectly meet your business’s needs, one that keeps the billing process wrinkle-free behind the scenes and all but invisible to customers, we recommend you keep three key questions in mind:

How Much of the Billing Process Can Be Automated?

Many of the logjams in billing are the result of human error, whether data was entered correctly, or sales didn’t communicate effectively with finance, or legal updated the wrong version of a customer contract and now the bill doesn’t match the quote. No matter how skilled employees are, the reality is that, as billing needs grow in volume and complexity, outdated systems and manual intervention will lead to an increase in errors.

However, the right billing platform will be able to integrate with other platforms such as the CRM and the ERP to automate every step of the quote-to-cash process. Once those workflows are on autopilot and all systems are working in sync, billing — even at high volumes with complex, ever-changing models — becomes much easier.

Does This Platform Truly Support Usage-Based Billing?

One common catalyst for businesses to look for a new billing system is that they’re introducing usage-based models and need a platform that can support them. Unfortunately, many vendors who advertise themselves as usage-based billing enabled are, in reality, only capable of supporting the most basic models. To avoid a nasty surprise after you’ve installed your pricey new system, take a deep dive into any potential solutions to be sure their usage-based billing support is as robust as they claim.

Ask about the types of usage-based models the platform supports (ideally, all of these), and look under the hood of its mediation engine to confirm that it can handle data in a wide variety of formats. Next, examine its revenue recognition capabilities to ensure the platform will keep your revenue traceable, standardized, and audit ready. Finally, find out how the vendor prefers to work with clients. If it sounds like a hands-off relationship, consider that a red flag. Look, instead, for vendors who consider themselves partners and will be invested in your success.

Will This System Meet Our Current and Future Needs?

Finally, look at your new billing system as a long-term investment, and be sure it will work for your business both now and in the future. After all, whether it’s the business or the market that’s evolving (or both), a business’s needs are highly unlikely to stay the same over time. Look for a system with the agility, flexibility, and elasticity that will empower your organization to implement new models and adjust capacity at the drop of a hat. All of this enables rapid growth, but it also “future-proofs” your business against economic uncertainty. Because, often, it’s the market — not the business itself — that’s driving change. As Gotransverse founder and CEO James Messer wrote in the spring of 2020:

“Consider the pivots we’ve seen business after business make during the pandemic: cell phone providers waiving late payment fees to support customers, restaurants converting to general stores and companies that rely on in-person interactions rolling out online offerings, to name a few. These businesses are able to quickly cut costs, repackage existing offerings, discount products and services, or roll out new offerings to support their communities and keep their doors open. On the other hand, less agile companies are likely to find that ‘business as usual’ is all they’re equipped for. They’ll be unable to evolve quickly enough to keep pace with a market that’s in constant flux.”

No billing system is one-size-fits all, but for businesses that want to achieve resilience, agility, and growth, the right system isn’t just a “nice-to-have” but a “must-have.” At Gotransverse we pride ourselves on helping our customers future-proof their businesses and streamline the customer experience with agile, configurable and scalable processes, automated workflows, and highly configurable features. To find out whether our platform is right for your organization, we invite you to take a virtual tour of our billing platform today. Then, when you’re ready, request a demo to learn more.