What do you think of when you hear the word “friction”? Maybe a point of contention you just can’t overcome with a friend or a coworker? Or even an uncomfortable piece of clothing rubbing against your skin? Well, in the world of payments, that definition isn’t too far off – friction is often used to describe touchpoints along the payment route that are unnecessarily difficult for customers to use or understand.
These trouble spots are not only frustrating for users to encounter, but they can also be a major barrier to driving customers to self-service options like online or automatic payments. Self-service routes offer customers the convenience and speed they want out of a bill payment experience, while reducing manual workloads and call volumes for the billers themselves. To effectively conserve time and resources, billing organizations need to capitalize on these opportunities, not make self-service routes more difficult to access. That’s why identifying and eliminating points of friction is mission-critical for teams like yours.
So, how can you identify and remove friction patches? And what can frictionless payments actually look like? Let’s look at a few real-life possibilities of friction disrupting the customer’s path to self-service.
Case #1: Online payment process
Anne is walking her dog Molly when she gets a notification that a bill is due today. Spurred on by the payment reminder, Anne goes to pay her bill on her phone. She decides to use guest checkout since she’s on her phone and doesn’t have her login info handy, but she can’t view her bill to see how much she owes without signing in. Frustrated, Anne puts her phone away, finishes her walk with Molly, and the bill slips her mind. As a result, she ends up paying her bill late.
The Issue: If customers are hitting login walls, especially on their phone, they’re unlikely to see the payment through and therefore, you’ve missed this opportunity to collect revenue. Worst case scenario, frustrated customers will then call your office, costing time and resources just because there’s friction in the process.
The Solution: Customers want to be dropped right into the payment route, where they can view and pay a bill on any device quickly, with no login information required (even having to reset login information can be a bad customer experience). In this instance, make sure that your organization is offering a true guest checkout route, one that offers all the information a customer would need to complete a payment without having to remember a password. To take this even further, a truly frictionless billing and payment solution should allow customers like Anne to access this guest checkout route directly from the payment reminder they received (i.e. a link in a text or email).
Case #2: Paperless billing enrollment
When Brian has access to paperless billing options, he is a very timely payer. However, one biller continues to send him monthly paper bills, leading Brian to often forget this payment. Every month, Brian checks the physical bill and the organization’s website for information on how to sign up for paperless options but struggles to find any way to enroll in e-billing. Eventually, Brian gives up and, as a result, often forgets to make this payment on time or at all.
The Issue: Customers only have so much time and patience, especially when it comes to an unpleasant task like paying a bill. If options like paperless billing are not promoted clearly and often, it’s unlikely customers will enroll. That means your organization is missing out on a chance to receive Brian’s payment on-time, improve his experience, and reduce your print and mailing costs.
The Solution: Offer clear paths to enroll in self-service options like paperless billing wherever possible; include QR codes or web addresses on physical bills and make enrollment routes obvious on your website and along the payment route (i.e. payment screens, confirmation screens). Not only should it be easy to find where to enroll, but the enrollment process should also be quick and easy, and paperless billing should begin immediately.
Case #3: Customer service workloads
Sandra works for a billing and collections office that is trying to tackle high-priority projects while balancing mounting call volumes. However, this has quickly become unsustainable for her team. In an average week, Sandra spends about 20 hours of her 40-hour workweek answering payment questions or processing payments on the phone, which significantly cuts into the time she has to focus on other critical projects.
The Issue: This is particularly frustrating because this high volume of customer calls could be avoidable! If Sandra and team were equipped with tools to redirect customers to self-service – or if her organization’s self-service routes were easy to find and use – it’s likely she would have more time to complete more critical tasks.
The Solution: Solutions like InvoiceCloud’s Agent Connect allow staff members like Sandra the opportunity to redirect these payment-related calls to automated routes. Once customers have tried options like pay-by-text, the customer is unlikely to call in the future – all because your organization provided a better user experience.
The real-life success of frictionless payments
As you can see from the three examples above, removing friction throughout the entire customer journey is critical, but no place is it more critical than the payment route. If your payment process is frustrating and difficult, it can affect the customer experience and in turn, your revenue.
To learn more about how to remove points of friction from your billing and payment process and see the benefits of higher rates of self-service (like up to $900k in annual savings) download our ebook below.