How to optimize the 'customer journey' for late payments

Payment Reminders

How to optimize the ‘customer journey’ for late payments

The ‘customer journey’ towards paying late bills is different for every customer. In order to ensure positive dunning results, businesses need to make sure all touch points along the customer journey are optimized for success. 

A customer journey for late payments?

When it comes to making purchases, potential customers generally come into contact with many of a brand’s touch points along the way. Whether it’s the website, outdoor billboards, television commercials, digital ad banners or sales reps, with each interaction, potential customers are further enticed into taking action. In marketing-speak, this is referred to as the customer journey. For marketers, the goal is to boost conversions by identifying these touch points and optimizing them for an optimal customer experience.

Question: Is paying an outstanding invoice any different? How many touch-points does it take to get a bill paid? 

When it comes to dunning, it’s often a guessing game. But there’s a big difference between a wild guess and a well-informed, strategic guess. An effective dunning strategy anticipates customer behaviour, adapts to customer demography and is in alignment with customer preferences.

All customers are not the same

The larger the company, the more common the service provided, the more diverse the     customer base. This is especially the case when it comes to companies that provide utilities, telecom, banking and insurance services. A large utility company has customers within various income brackets, language proficiencies, age groups, sexes and genders. They also have varying religious beliefs and cultural norms.

A one-size-fits-all approach will therefore always fall short in properly addressing these audiences. We’re living in an age of mass customization, a fact that should be reflected in your payment collection strategy.

To get the most out of your payment collection process, it is crucial to choose the right communication channel for the right audience.

In our ever-changing world, people are constantly moving place to place, whether it’s for business, personal growth or pleasure. The traditional letter in the postbox has become a nuisance rather than a pleasant form of human contact. Unsurprisingly, companies that still use traditional letters as their primary means of contacting debtors are seeing diminishing returns on their investment.

 

There are various ways to approach customers. The trick is deciding when to use them and with which customer. Let’s discuss the options: 

E-mail: everybody has it

Luckily, some communication channels are still broadly accepted and generally yield good results. The decline of the traditional letter has coincided with the rise of its digital counterpart: e-mail.

When approaching customers for the first time regarding an open invoice, e-mail is the most widely accepted and yields the best results. Nowadays, everybody has an e-mail address and most people check their inbox multiple times per day.

If sending an e-mail doesn’t yield the necessary result, there are various other payment reminder methods that can be implemented. This is where customer segmentation plays a vital role in your dunning strategy.

SMS: you can’t avoid it

When it comes to the follow-up, you should consider sending an SMS or HD Voice message. The SMS is very effective as it shows up as a notification on the customer’s mobile device and doesn’t go away until read or removed. Since people receive fewer SMS’ than e-mails, the visibility of the notification lasts a lot longer as well.

Voice: a clear message, clearly explained

Depending on the demographic, it can be useful to place an automated phone call with a high definition voice message. Older customers or those with low literacy will greatly benefit from being able to listen to the request for payment rather than having to read it.

Paylinks & QR Codes: in the blink of an eye

Many customers, especially younger demographics,  love paylinks and QR codes. A paylink (or scannable QR code) is a link that redirects the user to a payment page for the specific payment in question. The user no longer has to log in into an online banking environment or type all the payment information manually in order to make a payment. The added benefit of using QR codes is that it helps transition offline customers into your online ecosystem.

Interactive video: a truly engaging experience

Lastly, interactive video is the holy grail of dunning. Interactive video, first introduced by Mi-Pay in late 2019, is often implemented as the final phase of the dunning process. An interactive video, presented on a branded landing page, is an immersive, guided experience that engages the viewer visually as well as through audio.

How interactive video works? When viewing the video, the customer is informed about the outstanding payment and provided with payment options including pay now, pay later or pay in instalments. Moreover, if customers are still confused or disagree with the invoice, they can easily click to find how to get in touch with an agent.

 

Ready to optimize your late payment customer journey?

In this article, I laid out a wide range of payment reminder methods that companies should have at their disposal. However, methods doth not a strategy make. In the end, choosing the right sequence of touch points (payment reminders) depends on the business and the demographics of its many customers. It’s crucial to observe, listen and learn.

For over two decades, Mi-Pay has helped many large enterprises transform their payment collection strategies in ways that boost revenue while also increasing customer satisfaction.

If you’re not sure how or where to start with optimizing an effective ‘late payment journey’, I’d love to help you out. Together, we’ll figure out the best strategy for your business.

Let’s get in touch!

 

Michael Martens
Head Revenue Ambassador

E: [email protected]
M: +31 646228288