Companies have spent years and billions of dollars working to perfect the customer experience (CX), even accelerating their investments when most brand interactions went digital during the pandemic. Whether the investment was in on-demand ordering or dynamic pricing or improved customer support platforms and websites it is not an exaggeration to say that the last several years have been about optimizing and improving customer experiences.
Today, many companies are furthering their CX investments by leaning into AI use cases, augmented or virtual reality, or even dipping their toes into the Metaverse. All this to court the consumer and earn their loyalty. On some level this all makes sense. But.
There is a big but here.
Investing all the money in the world in your CX won’t matter if you’re overlooking the most obvious and critical customer experience moment.
I am specifically talking about payments and billing. What good is contactless payment technology, or subscription-like offerings, or even warranties and brand assurances if the consumer’s bill is wrong? If they were overcharged, undercharged, or worst case, if they’re not clear on the actual cost itself?
People have a social/emotional relationship with their money, and nothing makes them angrier than feeling like a company took advantage at payment/billing, whether accidentally or deliberately. Neither excuse passes muster with consumers – either your brand will be perceived as incompetent, or shady.
I would suggest that payments/billing has an outsized impact on the overall experience, because they come at the end of experience. People remember their last interaction better than any other point in their buying journey.
Consumers want fairness, predictability, and clear and logical descriptions of required payments. They don’t want to call your service center to fix or explain their bills.
So, what can you do about it?
Dedicate staff to analyzing your current billing and customer support processes, to really understand the associated pain points. How many calls have you gotten about confusing bills? About overcharges? How may returns or service discontinuations because of billing disputes?
Audit the readability of your payments/billing materials. Are these materials that the average consumer can quickly skim and immediately understand? (I’m looking at you, mobile phone carriers!).
Be judicious about replacing your human contact center with bots, particularly before you’ve addressed the points above. There is nothing more frustrating that trying to explain a billing problem to a bot!
Consider consumption-based billing. Only charge what consumers are actually using, versus overcharging for a service they’re not entirely leveraging.
After the investment, careful consideration and planning that goes into perfecting the customer journey, losing them at the end is a total negation of all the work your brand did until the end point. Instead, as one of our customers recently said, the clarity of your bill should be a competitive advantage. The final moments of a transaction or the day the bill arrives are opportunities to build and gain trust, not to lose it.