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Truth #1 – Customers Want Availability and Convenience

Posted May 2, 2013 by David Cutter

While businesses idealize about treating every customer individually, it’s simply not practical. The good news is, at a fundamental level, most customers have similar wants and needs that we’ve referred to as the “7 Truths of Customer Usefulness“. In the first of a series of posts examining these ‘truths’ in more detail, we’ll explore the issue of availability and convenience.

Truth #1 - Availability/Convenience

Customers want/need a system that is available when and how they want it. They also want the convenience of all payment channels (IVR/phone, Web, Mobile, and over the counter) and payment methods (cash, e-check, and credit/debit cards).”

– excerpt from full article

Technology, and the expediency with which it fulfills our wants and needs, has perpetuated a culture that expects instant gratification when dealing with the digital world. People get frustrated having to wait more than a few seconds for an email to come in from across the country, a webpage to load, or a large file to download. We expect this virtual reality to be always on, always ready, and always working whenever we decide we are ready to use it – 100% available, 100% convenient.

What does this mean to you?

To maximize the availability and convenience of your electronic billing and payment program, it should:

Offer as wide a variety of payment options as possible so your customers can pay on their terms. A recent study on how Americans pay bills found that 1 in 5 actually change the way they pay bills each month based on availability of funds, due dates, and amounts owed. Offering customers as many options as possible helps satisfy their needs by providing options that are consistent with the way they live. Additionally, having all of these payment options run through a single payment processor simplifies reconciliation for your accounting team.

Provide online access to billing and statement history, a simple process to turn on/off paperless billing, and proactive reminders and notifications of billing statements, balance, and due dates so that customers don’t have to spend time finding this information.

Can your customers pay with their Discover Card on their smartphone, their Visa debit card by calling into the interactive voice response (IVR) system, or their MasterCard credit card on your website? If you are not accepting all of the major card brands and electronic checks by web, mobile, and phone, then you are not making your service as convenient and available as it could be.

Furthermore, a large Spanish-speaking customer base will look for Spanish-speaking IVR and Spanish communications online. Overlook these methods, or assume that customers will not take advantage of them, and you are almost certainly placing caps on customer participation in these electronic billing and payment channels.

These constraints will limit customer participation and therefore limit the savings and efficiencies your organization realizes from offering these programs. The more convenient and available your billing and payment functions are for customers, the more likely they will adopt using these additional services.

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