Increasing B2B Loyalty With Improved Customer Experience

b2b einvoiceThe last mile in any business to business transaction, collecting payment, can be a point of friction or a seamless part of a great buying experience. Too often, its the former due to a multiple roadblocks including paper invoicing, and accounts receivable staff availability for time zone differences.

Established family businesses often have the same customers for generations and they’re fiercely loyal. Or are they? In a Bain & Company survey of 290 executives in B2B industries throughout 11 countries, 68% of respondents said customers are less loyal than they used to be. Technology can be a game changer for increasing loyalty.

Common business to business billing scenarios for distributors without ecommerce capabilities:

  • Distributor A sends invoices via text or email and lets their customer choose their experience and how they want to pay. Pay from the email/text or login to a portal? Store and tokenize ACH or credit card or manually enter each time? Send check in the mail?
  • Distributor B sends invoices via email and requires customer to login to a portal to make payments.
  • Distributor C has an online pay page customers can use to pay any amount.
  • Distributor D send invoices via email, and customers send checks in the mail.
  • Distributor E sends invoice and credit card authorization form via email, then gets a fax back, key enters into a virtual terminal.

Which billing strategy delivers the optimal customer experience? Customers want to interact with you in multiple ways, so if you’re still doing business the same way you have for decades, customers have likely shifted some of their business, or maybe all of it, to another vendor. Price is not the likely culprit. In a retail study about millennials, just 15% always purchase from the lowest price retailer, while 38% cited convenience as a reason to not purchase. 58% said they’d take advantage of self-checkout on their own mobile device.

What does this mean for B2B distribution companies? Think like your customers. Are you making it easy to do business? Are you increasing their efficiency? What’s the opportunity cost of not updating? I once sought a new distributor for a product an existing supplier discontinued. I found one, but didn’t place the first order. Why not? They required calling in with my credit card information citing it would be more secure. We were in different time zones and the phone was busy, or the person at lunch, and it was just plain inconvenient to keep trying.

A distributor recently advised me they don’t store anything – they require a credit card authorization form for every single purchase. Talk about driving customers away! Even a simple hosted pay page can alleviate the need for paper forms, immensely increase customer convenience, and increase cash flow to boot. While increasing a credit line is a possibility, some customers use them as a tool to self-manage credit, increasing purchasing without having to interact with anyone.

Invoicing and payment technology updates are critical to garnering customer loyalty, regardless of the payment type. The more flexible the solution, the more likely each customer can interact with your business via their preferred method. Today’s technology supports a myriad of payment types, including ACH, credit card, wire and others, and multiple ways to interact for making payments from email to text and beyond. Delighted customers are more loyal and more likely to refer new business.

Christine Speedy is an authorized reseller for CenPOS, a cloud-based, end-to-end payments engine that drives enterprise-class solutions for businesses, saving them time and money, while improving their customer engagement. The secure, cloud-based solution optimizes acceptance for all payment types across multiple channels without disrupting the merchant’s banking relationships. 954-942-0483

Invoice Factoring Alternatives

Although leveraging Accounts Receivable Management to increase capital for cash flow can be very effective, merchants can often reduce invoice factoring needs by improving accounts receivable collections. The two most common collection invoice delivery methods are paper mailed invoices and email invoices or e-invoices. Adding an online pay page or using Electronic Bill Presentment & Payment (EBPP) can dramatically improve cash flow.

The Case For Online Payments

At a minimum, a hosted pay page enables customers to pay 24/7, while also reducing Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards , or PCI DSS, compliance burden.  If  most of your customers pay by check, and protecting margins with check payment is preferred, simply email the link to delinquent accounts. This is a proven method to boost cash flow. Example: a law firm added a pay page and collected a single $11,000 + payment the same day a client was given the creit card payment online option.online payments hosted pay page

The Case For Electronic Bill Presentment & Payment (EBPP)

With EBPP, invoices are delivered via email, SMS ( text message) or fax. The primary difference between e invoice and EBPP is the link tp pay the invoice delivered online. Delivering electronic invoices is easy for any business to business company to gain customer acceptance, if for no other reason than environmental impact. From a business perspective, it’s clear float is reduced with e-billing vs postal from 2-10 days to immediate. Some might argue customers will always pay the last due date, and that’s true, some will , however, this is also true:

  • It’s proven some invoices will get paid immediately. Benefit: 30 days vs same day.
  • Some customers will pay on time. Benefit: reduces late payments.
  • Some slow payers will payer quicker to stop automatic reminders to pay. Benefit: paper, printing, and postage fees; staff time

The Case For CenPOS Online Payments & EBPP

CenPOS is a universal payment processing solution that works with your existing finance partners to streamline the payment experience for customers and merchants. In short, here’s why CenPOS is better than another similar solutions:

  • Cost: more value for a lower cost, no long term contracts or heavy upfront costs
  • Simplicity: Go live almost instantly.
  • Efficiency:  The platform is built with many, many time saving features for both merchants and customers. For example, the ability to securely store credit card and checking account information by either party saves tons of time on future payments.
  • Innovation: CenPOS is flexible, and continually innovating. With one hub for transactions, reporting, administration, reconciliation, there are no comparable competitors with the depth of solutions nor merchant value added benefits. For example, CenPOS EBPP has tools to automate steering to lower cost methods of payment, and all payment sources utilize an intelligent system that can reduce  credit card processing fees- with any compatible merchant account.

If the dynamics of when invoices are paid changed, how will it impact factoring needs? Try any of our payment accelerator solutions for an extended free trial with the mention of this blog article. Merchants and factoring companies contact Christine Speedy, CenPOS Global Sales/ Channel Sales (954) 942-0483.

 

Electronic bill presentment and payment improves PCI Compliance

Electronic bill presentment and payment, or EBPP, improves PCI Compliance by removing employees from having access to credit card information. Instead of credit card numbers on fax forms or employees accepting payment information over the phone, simply send an e-invoice which the customer can click to pay.

The image below shows the landing page after a customer clicks the text message or email link to pay.

electronic bill presentment and payment

Better than electronic invoicing, our solution enables customers to make payments right from the email. Why is this important? By delivering the invoice and the ability to pay without logging in, you’ll dramatically reduce time from invoice to payment collection.

EBPP sales sheet (PDF)

Our EBPP is fast, easy to use, and requires no capital investment to implement. For sales call Christine at 954-942-0483 or click here for more information.

5 Critical Tips For Accepting A Credit Card Authorization Form

Is your credit card authorization template worthless? Card absent transactions have a heavier burden of proof to prevent charge-backs, and the methods businesses use often create other risks, such as identity theft.  Here are steps to protect your business to business company.

  1. Never store CVV security code data; it’s against card association rules. Stored forms containing CVV, represent substantial financial risk in the event of identity theft, and potentially even jail time for failing to protect sensitive data.
  2. Fax or email the sales invoice, which must include the merchant name (matching the merchant account either as company name or dba), merchant address, merchant phone, customer bill to, customer ship to, product or service details with quantity, price and description. Add a checkbox for customer to acknowledge refund and cancellation policies. Add a fill-in line with title “Cardholder Authorization”.
  3. Do not ask customers to fax back a credit card authorization form. That’s right, chuck the credit card authorization fax form into the trash can. Tell customers that for security reasons, payment must made on a secure online pay page. The pay page form should include fields for the cardholder name, address, email, phone, and invoice number. Additionally, have a checkbox for the cardholder to acknowledge receipt and acceptance of refund/cancellation policy and of the invoice terms. For example, I use this: “I accept the return policy and all other terms as stated on my invoice.”

    virtual terminal and web payment page for law firm

    Image shows example of a custom secure payment page on a law firm web site. Fully configurable for your specific needs,

  4. Request customers print the receipt from the online payment and the invoice. Fill in fields, sign both, and fax them back. Store the proof of delivery with the signed papers.
  5. If the Cardholder address and ship to address are different, and this is not indicated on specifically on the invoice, have the cardholder send a supplemental document on letterhead (of the cardholder) that specifically states they’re authorizing shipping to a different address. For business to business, different addresses are common. Be aware that without acknowledged authorization of some sort, there is virtually no defense for sending product to an address different than the cardholder.

In lieu of signed papers via fax, customer replies via company email that acknowledge receipt of the invoice, and of the sales receipt with authorization code, can be used as proof to defend against charge-backs in future disputes.

Another solution which facilitates future dispute protection is electronic bill presentment & payment. In this case, the merchant invoice is delivered to a customer’s company email address, and the customer clicks and pays the specific invoice securely online. This creates a paper trail of proof that terms were presented and the customer received them since they self-initiated payment tagged specifically to the invoice. Merchants may also want to create rules that transactions over a certain amount are reviewed by an internal audit team to verify if cardholder address matches the invoice.

click through landing page for secure payment from an e-invoice

click through landing page for secure payment from an e-invoice

According to a recent survey, the second highest identity theft concern of customers is credit card information on paper. Eliminate the paper to reduce risk, improve customer relations, and create efficiencies for both customers and merchants. All above are guidelines which can be modified dependent upon the risk associated with the customer. For example, new customers and recurring customers may carry different risks. Domestic customers with verifiable AVS (address verification) have lower risk than international with no AVS verification capability.

Disclaimer: The information above does not replace a merchants obligation to follow all rules associated with their merchant account, card acceptance guidelines and payment card industry data security standards.

For more information about solutions to streamline payment acceptance for your business to business company with card not present customer transactions, contact us.

Can I change e-invoice after sent? CenPOS revenue audit trail and invoices.

Our business to business service company frequently alters invoices after  a customer calls in. After CenPOS delivers an electronic invoice, how can I change it?

Customers cannot change any information in CenPOS. The audit trail is a significant feature of the payment platform. Merchants cannot change anything. If a merchant wants to keep the same invoice number, here are methods to resolve the situation:

  • Allow a partial payment. If the new amount due is less than the original invoice, allow the customer to make a partial payment by turning on the option in the EBPP merchant configuration. Communicate the new amount due with the customer outside of CenPOS and have the customer make a payment against the original invoice delivered.
  • If the new amount due is more than the original invoice, issue a second invoice for the difference.
  • Mark the invoice as paid and issue a new invoice with the same number. This removes the invoice as pending within CenPOS, but is probably not a best practice for accounting.

e invoice About CenPOS: “Creating efficiencies through payment innovation”
Founded in 2009, Miami-based CenPOS is a SaaS, private cloud payment technology provider. CenPOS is an intelligent payment processing network that streamlines the payment experience for businesses and consumers by using state-of-the-art technology to replace inefficient, outdated payment systems. Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment, EBPP, streamlines the collections process and creates many efficiencies for merchants and their customers. EBPP is easily implemented with existing accounting systems, and includes both a secure merchant portal and secure customer portal. Global Sales: Christine Speedy (954) 942-0483.