The bill to payment journey can make—or break—customer experience (CX) and loyalty. A recurring bill is a critical touchpoint that can either bolster positive relationships with customers or leave them frustrated. Many businesses, especially communication service providers (CSPs), need to earn their customers’ trust.
One way businesses can enhance the overall customer billing experience—and earn customers’ trust, loyalty and referrals—is by providing payment options. Customers appreciate features that reduce bill confusion, like transparent and accurate billing statements, proactive notifications, intuitive explanation of changes and prompt customer service. Including these options in a recurring bill, which is often the only planned interaction customers have with their provider, can help your company orchestrate a seamless billing experience.
Poorly Designed Billing Statements Increase Frustration and Billing Calls
Billing statements can be complicated and difficult to understand. According to CSG’s analysis of 30 companies’ bills, even the best billing statement met just 13 of 23 criteria consumers want to see in their bill.
Companies should avoid these 5 common billing sins:
- Not presenting the amount due as the most prominent information
- Not providing a clear due date on the bill
- Not linking the amount due
- Not explaining changes (or acknowledging no changes) incurred since the previous bill
- Hiding mission-critical information
Poorly designed bills confuse and frustrate customers. According to a worldwide survey of 1,557 people who recently contacted customer service, the top reason (33%) for calling was to inquire about a bill. Another survey found that 37% of telecom users prefer to call the contact center (instead of visiting the website or using a mobile app) to ask billing questions.
Want to reduce those billing calls?
5 Best Practices to Improve the Bill-to-Payment Customer Experience
1. Offer multiple payment options and personalized payment plans.
Consumer adoption of digital payment channels is growing. In 2022, CSG’s customers saw a 13% increase in the number of their customers using digital payment options, and a 14% increase in the number of processed automated clearinghouse (ACH) digital transactions. Despite these increases, 45% of transactions at CSG payment kiosks are paid in cash, and many customers still prefer to pay by check. According to our Digital Experiences Survey, 26% of respondents said they prefer to receive paper billing statements in the mail instead of setting up autopay online. Businesses should accommodate these preferences by allowing people to pay with cash, check, credit card, ACH, mobile payment app and other digital gateways.
2. Deliver proactive, smarter notifications.
Send personalized messages when it matters most via each customer’s preferred communication channel (e.g., email, text). Those personalized messages could include:
- Payment reminders
- Late/overdue notices
- Payment confirmation
- Discount or reward offers for timely payments
Your company’s proactive, personalized communications will:
- ✓ Keep customers informed.
- ✓ Encourage on-time payments.
- ✓ Assist in collection efforts.
- ✓ Guide customers to self-service channels (e.g., the payment portal)
3. Design a clear, easy-to-understand bill.
To simplify the billing experience, make sure the process is easy to understand and navigate. A better bill to pay experience starts with a better bill. Design your billing statement to avoid the 5 billing sins mentioned above.
- ✓ Provide clear and concise billing statements. For example, avoid using “due by.” It’s a confusing term that’s ambiguous about when the payment would be late.
- ✓ Minimize the use of jargon or complex language.
- ✓ Make the payment options obvious.
Re-designing your billing statement based on industry best practices:
- Increases on-time payments and revenue.
- Improves CX.
- Decreases call center volume.
- Improves employee retention (receiving fewer calls from unhappy customers makes contact center agents’ job easier and less overwhelming).
4. Explain each customer’s charges and month-to-month changes with an intuitive digital experience.
Send the customer a link (via email or text) to a personalized billing microsite that explains information included in their billing statement, including:
- ✓ Balance due
- ✓ If/how much the amount changed from the previous bill
- ✓ Itemized charges
- ✓ Expiration dates for promotions (e.g., introductory rates)
- ✓ Proration events
- ✓ Taxation events
- ✓ Detailed descriptions of promotion ends
5. Automate your contact center operations using agent desktop solutions and customer journey orchestration.
Even when you deliver clear billing statements, some customers will still call your contact center. Customers expect prompt, one-call resolution. Adding more call centers and agents isn’t enough to deliver better customer experiences. Instead, you need an integrated, artificial intelligence-driven journey orchestration solution that detects customer intent and predicts the next best action. Use an automated contact center solution that delivers proactive and appropriate self-service (based on intent), directs callers to the right agent group, and provides agents with the right information (across departments and systems) to deliver fast, accurate support.
Intelligent automation of the contact center:
- Personalizes interactions using customer data and analytics
- Reduces wait times (by equipping agents with the right information to resolve the problem).
- Increases first-call resolution (through retrieving and displaying information in real time to address the customer’s specific needs)
- Reduces agents’ workload, freeing them to focus on more complex or high-value interaction tasks
- Equips agents with the right information and best offer recommendations to continue to build loyalty
Master the billing experience with CSG’s telecommunications and CX solutions.
Deliver innovative 5G and digitally connected experiences anywhere, across any channel. From business support systems (BSS) and billing systems to printed statements and a leading customer journey orchestration platform, we make it easy to connect with customers and deliver exceptional experiences that boost retention.