An explanation of why a customer portal can help small and mid-size businesses to get paid on time by their customers
How would your customers describe their experience with your company when it comes to making payments? Would they say it’s easy and convenient? Streamlined and professional--or clunky, outdated and hard to track? Are you still sending paper invoices and asking for paper checks in return?
The experience your customers have with your accounting department has an impact on their overall perception of your company. And in a world where everything -- even billing -- is now quick, easy and instantaneous, there is simply no excuse to not have a simplified and automated way to invoice clients and receive payments quickly. Not to mention, it saves hours of administrative time.
More and more businesses are adding customer portals to help accomplish this. According to Entrepreneur, "client portals are no longer merely a novelty features. They're something customers now expect in a variety of industries.” The benefits of having one extends beyond helping the customer because it solves many pain points for the small to mid-size business owner, as well.
A customer portal identifies your company.
It has become commonplace for retail websites to give the buyer a choice to register for an account to save their purchases, keep track of their orders, and keep payment information secure without the repeated need to fill it out every time. Service businesses are doing the same with invoicing by providing a system to collect online payments. A roadblock to this process can happen when a customer leaves the site and goes through a third-party payment vendor. Even if it is well-known, the consistency of the customer experience is lost. Customer portals that are branded help overcome any hesitancy by continuing to be familiar and professional. Customer behavior can be better driven if they are comfortable doing something.
Help Your Customers Help Themselves.
An article posted by Salesforce.com identified the increased use of customer portals as a source of self-service that "allows customers to have their wish of researching and finding answers on their own at times personally convenient for them". Many times, a customer doesn't follow through on a transaction simply because they can't find the invoice information they need or have the ability to pay readily. Customer service may only be offered to them during traditional business hours, pretty much the same time they are busy doing what they need to do, too. And who is to say the business has the time or the organization to provide it readily when a customer does call.
A customer portal has all that listed conveniently so it's all there when they need it and they are ready to pay. With a portal, they can store payment information securely, view payment and invoice history, and do not need to repeat the process or call in to ask or make a change to their payment method. When businesses give control over payment capabilities back to their customers by allowing
Time is money.
A small to mid-size business does not have resources for a dedicated customer service department. Personnel multi-task, fill in the gaps as needed, and there is usual a disconnect when someone who takes care of this goes on vacation or is sick. Time easily becomes a value commodity that businesses take for granted or give a low priority. It's impacts the cash flow cycle, too. Businesses this size often float by continuing to service customers without having payments up-to-date. Many do not even bother to go after reimbursement because they don't have time and it is seen as an uncomfortable way to lose buyers and clients. It all adds up and eventually does not add up to keep a business growing or going.
Customer portals save a ton of time for both the payee and payor. Easily the investment in customer portal earns back the time and hassle of responding to invoice requests and payment status inquiries. Even better if it syncs with your A/R platform to save time and any chance of error. Automatic payment reminders and past due notices to a customer's account can positively impact this cycle and according to QuickBooks Resource Center are among the top ways to invoice and get paid faster.
There are many reasons why a customer portal works and is easier to set up and use than a small to mid-size business may think it can be or is necessary. Explore the options out there and make sure the platform you provide your customer easily syncs and streamlines what you have in place and improves your invoice and payment processes for the long-term business sustain-and-grow plan.
Biller Genie is a top-rated, easy-to-use tool used by small and mid-sized businesses who wish to improve their accounts receivable process and improve and cash flow. It syncs with QuickBooks to provide standard automated invoicing and payment reminders for customers by being the "assistant" that takes care of it all. Features now include a free customer portal that can be branded with a login on your business website.
Want to learn more? Schedule a demo or create a Biller Genie account to get started.