Jared King, Co-Founder and CEO of Invoiced
It’s no secret that in business, customer obsession is the path to winning. As a founder of multiple companies, I’ve discovered, in particular, that deliberate, purposeful crafting of customer experience can help any business achieve its goals.
Furthermore, it’s the duty of everyone on the team to contribute to this endeavor, even those traditionally thought to be a step removed from the customer tribe.
But, let’s back up for a moment. For starters, what even is customer experience?
Customer experience (CX) is the focus of every single touchpoint a customer ever has or will have with a company or with the company’s brand. Every email, phone call, chat bot message, advertisement, purchase, etc., are all in focus for those managing a brand’s customer experience.
The customer-centric companies dominate today’s business-to-consumer (B2C) landscape, so much so that the media has latched onto this narrative and extolls the virtues of these brands. And we, as consumers, eat it up ourselves willingly because we like quality, convenient, and thoughtful brands. However, I maintain that such customer focus isn’t exclusive to the B2C domain, but can be leveraged to a phenomenal extent within the business-to-business (B2B) environment.
Why the CFO must have total CX buy-in
It’s in the B2B environment where the non-traditionally associated roles can really bring impact to CX, such as your brand’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Customer experience requires everyone at a brand to devote thought to it. What if I run into someone on the street from a company, and they treat me poorly? I will carry this sentiment about the brand moving forward.
The same goes for how I feel when I receive anything in the mail, electronically or otherwise, from a company. This is the moment where a CFO can provide his or her talents to a brand’s customer experience.
And here’s how:
Three ways CFOs can provide top-notch CX via the billing cycle
Billing, collections, and payment are integral parts of any business’ cash flow cycle. Cash flow is the proverbial king when it comes to running a successful business. When it comes to CX, the CFO must consider the following:
1. Billing provides an additional, hidden customer touchpoint to drive home a consistent brand experience
Does your brand’s billing experience properly convey the rest of the overall brand strategy? When customers open up that paper or online bill, there is one singular voice sharing information: your brand. Are the delivery, design, and presentation consistent with the rest of the brand experience? Is this pleasurable, or at least as close to pleasurable as receiving a bill can be?
Businesses must consider these questions when they’re developing their customer billing experience. First comes billing, and then comes collections, though. So, let’s take a look at collections next.
2. The collections process is a perfect time to showcase your brand’s empathy and win customer champions
Once billing has been solved, a CFO then must dictate how a collections process is designed and executed. The personal, empathetic messaging implemented here is again a final frontier for brand marketing–especially in a B2B environment.
As a B2B operator, you are uniquely positioned to understand what your counterpart, or your customers, are going through. Leverage this as an advantage to stand out amongst your peers.
Collections can be a frustratingly messy business. Companies often must engage in varying degrees of follow-up to get customers to take action and pay. If your customers are facing challenges that are making it difficult for them to pay, there may be a certain level of ire or sensitivity for those on the receiving end of payment reminders.
This is the perfect opportunity to step in with an empathetic message that will leave your customers feeling valued and respected which further bolsters brand goodwill. Additionally, how much control does the brand have over those reminders, and do they match the experience across the rest of the customer’s journey?
Next up on said journey? Payment.
3. The seminal moment: tendering payment
So a brand has thoughtfully issued a bill and followed up with care, we’re well on our way to a superior CX experience. Now, however, is the seminal moment: the customer is ready to tender payment.
Businesses need to obsess over their ability to accept payments. How frictionless is this experience? Making payments as easy as possible enables the CFO to further leverage cash flow where and when it’s needed. Payment is the most important CFO-owned CX opportunity— because it’s when the customer hands over their hard-earned money for the products or services that they’ve been provided.
This moment should be as absolutely frictionless and simple as possible. Of course, that means offering online bill payment, but just because online payments are available doesn’t mean the payment isn’t a cumbersome, aggravating, or antiquated process for customers. Make it not just easy but virtually effortless. Customers will like easy, but they will love effortlessness.
The Winning CFO Must Consider Customer Experience
As the CEO of Invoiced, a B2B software brand that supports businesses with billing, collections, and payment acceptance, I firmly believe that everyone at a company (B2C or B2B) has the ultimate duty to serve our customers, the CFO included.
Should the CFO have the same degree of obsession with CX as others on the team? This could be debatable as the CFO’s primary focus is cash flow which is the lifeblood of an organization. However, as I’ve detailed above, a properly CX-inclined CFO can better manage cash flow as he can secure payment faster and more reliably. CFOs can be integral members of the CX team of an organization and should empathetically think about the customer’s journey.
About the Author
Jared King is Co-Founder & CEO of Invoiced, the category-defining company in the field of A/R automation. Jared built Invoiced from a small bootstrapped startup to a thriving global platform that now serves the billing and collections needs of more than 20,000 businesses in 92 countries and processes more than $2 billion in client receivables every month. Because of Invoiced’s scale and success, Jared has a uniquely valuable vantage point for how cash management, business process improvement, and technology come together to help companies get paid faster, waste less time on collections and provide better payment experiences for their customers.