Keeping Customer Relationships (and the Bottom Line) Healthy
With more and more products and services being made available online, an increasing number of consumers and corporate decision-makers are expecting that they can acquire what they want or need quickly and easily with a simple and intuitive transaction […]
This doesn’t just apply to the consumer world. It is especially true in the world of Software-as-a- Service (SaaS): fail to provide an easy transaction mechanism for your SaaS solutions and you can kiss the customer goodbye.
In today’s customer-driven business world, it’s more important than ever to ensure a quality customer experience from the moment potential buyers expresses interest through the moment the accounting department records their payment. But all too often, organizations focus their customer service efforts on the front half of that process — on the awareness and consideration stages. Then, once the purchase agreement is made, they turn their attention to the next potential buyer.
However, there’s a lot that needs to happen between the purchase decision and the end of a successful transaction, and if that process is left to the whims of chance (or an outdated system), there’s a good probability that something will fall through the cracks in the back office, leaving customers frustrated and unlikely to purchase from that organization again, much less recommend it to their friends and colleagues.
But before we talk about how to ensure those transactions go smoothly every time, let’s take a look at the order-to-cash process and break down what needs to happen before an organization can add another name to its list of loyal, satisfied customers.
The Order-to-Cash Process, Step by Step
To put it simply, we can break down the order-to-cash process into five steps, which work similarly whether we’re talking about one-time purchases, subscriptions, or consumption-based offerings.
1. The Customer Places the Order
Whether they’re purchasing a product, subscribing to a SaaS platform or using the services allotted to them in a consumption-based package for an IoT application, this is the moment the customer decides to make a purchase. And when that order is placed, it sets off a chain of events designed to ensure everybody involved in fulfilling the order — from the sales team to the accountants to production and customer support staff — has their marching orders.
2. The Order Is Fulfilled
Once the order is made, the product is pulled from the warehouse or the service is scheduled to begin. For product-driven businesses, inventory management is critical in this step, as an out-of-stock product cannot be fulfilled.
3. The Invoice Is Created and Sent
For companies with straightforward billing models — one-time purchases or simple, recurring subscriptions — the invoicing process is fairly straightforward, as well, so long as the organization is set up to manage customer volume. However, as offerings get more complicated, with usage- or consumption-based offerings, add-ons, discounts and other pricing models, invoicing can get messy, requiring a powerful usage engine to convert consumption data into cost terms. Learn more about complex usage and rating.
4. The Customer Sends Payment
Once customers receive their invoices, they can send payment, ideally in a variety of quick, convenient forms. On the organization’s end, it’s important to keep outstanding invoices organized to alert customers when payments are coming due (and overdue).
5. The Payment Is Recorded
Finally, once the organization receives payment, it must be recorded and reported to track revenue, product and service usage, and even the efficiency of the order-to-cash process, itself.
We’ve simplified the process here, and there’s certainly more to unpack, but you can see how, with so many moving pieces and departments involved, details could slip through the cracks with out-of-date or highly manual systems. In fact, according to research from MGI, 44% of companies see legacy billing systems as barriers to growth, and 59% cite significant customer friction due to billing issues.
So how can organizations streamline the order-to-cash process in order to keep their customer relationships and their balance sheets healthy?
Streamlining the Order-to-Cash Process through Intelligent Billing
Cloud-based intelligent billing platforms are a powerful tool for businesses to provide user-friendly, customized billing experiences without the logistical nightmares of manual or outdated legacy systems. These platforms are configurable to meet organizations’ current needs and agile enough to grow and change with them, managing a huge variety of billing models, evolving product catalogues and high volumes of customer data.
Here are just a few ways intelligent billing can be a game changer:
Automated Billing System Management
These systems are designed to either work alone as the sole billing platform or integrate with other systems currently in use, minimizing the need for manual platform management and the risk for redundant or incorrect data entry. Learn more about how intelligent billing systems can eliminate operational silos and bridge the gap between the front and back offices.
Streamlined Order-to-Cash Process
Beyond data and system management, intelligent billing platforms help organizations automate the entire order-to-cash process, from order management to usage and rating to revenue reporting. No more manual workflow management, no more miscommunications, no more missing information or incorrect billing. Just a smooth customer experience every step of the way.
Flexibility to Grow & Change
Unlike manual billing processes or old-school systems that have to be rebuilt with every change, intelligent billing platforms like goTransverse’s are designed to be as agile as the businesses they support. They can be reconfigured as needed (with no custom coding) to adapt to new business models, offerings and markets, ensuring a clean billing and payment process no matter what’s going on behind the scenes.
By putting all of these manual tasks and logistical headaches on autopilot, an intelligent billing platform gives employees the time and resources they need to focus on what matters most: growing the business. So if your organization is one of the many that are transitioning to more complex revenue models as they grow, look for an intelligent billing solution that can support a frictionless order-to-cash process to build and maintain strong, long-lasting client relationships.
Learn more in the goTransverse Executive Guide to Intelligent Billing Platforms, and contact us for a personalized demo to learn how we can help your organization streamline the order-to-cash process through intelligent billing.
Marni Burger is the Director of Product Marketing at goTransverse. She brings over 14 years of experience in Product Marketing, focused on software in the IT and engineering spaces, and has a degree in Electrical Engineering. When she’s not geeking out on products, she’s chasing her kids around or watching way too much TV.