StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article

Why Your Clients Won’t Pay Up On Time, And What To Do About It

One of the most frustrating things in business are clients who won’t pay on time. Your accounts receivable might be making your balance sheet look healthy, but if the money doesn’t actually arrive in your account, it’s no use to you whatsoever.

How Slow And Non Paying Clients Put Your Business At Risk

Slow paying clients aren’t just a nuisance. They can cause your business serious financial harm. First, customers who pay late can cause serious cash flow problems. You may have made decisions in advance, such as taking on a new employee or signing a new contract, banking on the fact that you would get paid by a specified date. But when clients don’t pay up, you can experience a cash flow shortfall, even if your underlying business is healthy. Not having cash on hand in the present can lead to serious relationship problems with your staff and suppliers, especially when they go unpaid.

The second issue is the extra administrative burden non-paying clients place on your business. Not only do you not have the money you’re owed in your account, but you also have to pay out extra administrative costs to chase people up. What’s more, the repercussions of non-payment can affect people at the senior level – the very people who should be focusing on moving the business forward. Wondering whether you might get paid takes your mind off other tasks, reducing your creativity and causing additional stress.

If you find that late invoice payments are a perennial problem for your business, then it might be time to revamp your payment collection process. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to remedy the problem of late-paying clients. Here’s what to do.

Make Invoicing More Convenient

One of the reasons why your clients might not be paying you on time is that your invoicing process is complicated or antiquated. In a world of instant gratification like ours, people don’t want to have to jump through hurdles to do something as simple as making a payment. What they want is to be able to quickly and easily pay you the money you’re owed and move on. Thus, friction in the payment process can be a real problem.

The good news is that technology has made it easier than ever to pay. Paying for your business services needn’t be any more difficult than ordering a new pair of shoes online. So long as your business has a merchant account, many accounting software packages now come with the option of sending a card payment option along with digital invoices, meaning that your customers don’t even have to do a bank transfer. If you use a cloud solution, you can make the process even easier by allowing people to pay using mobile devices.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article
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Use Spot Factoring

Small and medium-sized businesses regularly find themselves in the following situation. They’ve just completed a large order and used a significant amount of their capital in the process. They get another large order in from a different client, but they’re unable to fulfill it because they still haven’t been paid for the first. In short, they have nothing in the bank to pay their suppliers and vendors.

In situations like this, companies need advice on slow paying clients. One of the best pieces of advice out there is to use spot factoring, a process where a third party company buys up the invoice and immediately pays out a cash value for it. This process provides your company with immediate funding and passes on the hassle of chasing up late payments from a client onto somebody else.

Create A Better Relationship With Your Client

Another reason why clients don’t pay up on time could be to do with your relationship with them. They might not be conscious of your existence, or worse, they might not like you. Customers will find all sorts of reasons not to pay on time, or at all, including what they think about you personally.

To really get clients on your side, you need to create personal relationships with them. Ideally, you’d generate a creating great business partnerships tips, empathy, and understanding which would make it uncomfortable for the client to make a late payment. Having a close relationship with a client also makes it easier to broach the issue, should they fail to pay on time. Being able to call them up and discuss it over is often a lot more productive than simply sending them a threatening letter in the post.

Ask For Money Up Front

In some industries, the sellers of a new product or service have the luxury of asking for payment up front. But even if that isn’t how your industry typically operates, there are still options open to you.

One idea is to break up a project into chunks. Get clients to pay for small chunks of the project as you go along. This way, you have the security of getting regularly paid before spending resources to carry out work, and your client can test the waters, rather than paying for everything up front before knowing whether you’re going to do a good job or not.

Some clients might actually prefer to pay up front. By paying up front, they know that they’re not going to get smacked with a big bill later on.

Settle Payments Terms In Writing Before Carrying Out Work

Late payments or non-payments can sometimes arise out of confusion. Often, clients simply don’t know when they’re supposed to pay, and so they wait and wait until something happens. If your company is relying on good cash flow to pay staff and suppliers, then you want to avoid this situation at all costs.

When you get down to the matter of payment, establish a payment timetable with your client in writing. Although formal relationships like this might seem a little extreme, they can actually be very effective at building trust. Your customers will take the arrangement more seriously if it is in writing and will get the impression that you’re not messing around. You run a tight ship, and you expect them to pay on time.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article

Six Ways To Boost Revenue By Building Client Trust

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

What’s the one way to guarantee repeat custom from a new client? Trust. All successful relationships, whether personal or business, have to be built on it. If a customer doesn’t trust that you’re genuine or that you have their best interests at heart, they won’t be back for a second round, and they certainly won’t recommend you to colleagues and friends. Building that relationship of trust between seller and buyer is essential for keeping a contract strong, and here are just a few ways you can guarantee it.

1. Listen, don’t talk

It’s impossible to offer the appropriate products to a customer if you think you know better than they do about their needs. Listening to them talk about their wants and their concerns can better help you to understand exactly what it is they require, so when you come to talk, you’re offering the perfect solution. A client wants to know they’re being heard, so practice your listening skills and prove to them that they’re important.

2. Be realistic

Promising the Earth might make you look good at the point of sale, but when you can’t actually pull it off, you’re going to look like a fool whose mouth is too big. If you promise a specific product within a specific timeframe, just to secure a deal when they are stalling, knowing deep down that it’s impossible, you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. They are being honest with you about their expectations, and unfortunately, it is your place to explain to them if their expectations are unreasonable. Sooner that than having to let them down in the future.

3. Be identifiable

Customers like knowing who they are dealing with, whether over the phone or face to face. On telephone calls, always introduce yourself at the start and end of the call – you put a name and a responsibility to the transaction so they feel they can call back and speak directly to a recognisable person. In face to face communications, always wear identification like a name badge or ID on a lanyard such as those in this catalogue. This allows customers to take note of your name, but it also reassures them that you’re a professional, and you are officially associated with the company.

4. Don’t make excuses

Sometimes things go wrong, through no fault of your own, and your customer has to to find out. In these situations, don’t make excuses. Simply explain what has happened, offer your apologies, and move on to explaining your proposed solutions. Excuses sound like you’re trying to wriggle your way out of responsibility, and your customer just won’t appreciate that.

5. Don’t bad-mouth the competition

If you ever have to talk about your direct competition, keep it civil and cordial. Even if you think they’re dreadful as an organisation, your customer doesn’t need to know that – it just comes across as petty and insincere.

6. Keep your promises

Finally, never ever renege on a promise unless you absolutely have to. If you’re building trust with a client, you want them to know that you’ll always keep your word. Once you break that, it’s almost irreparable, but if you put your neck on the line and make promises, only to keep them, you’ll be placing yourself far beyond the competition.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article

A Customer’s Wish Is Your Command

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article
Photo courtesy of Pexels

The way that customers view your business is paramount to it’s success. If your customers are unhappy with the way that they’ve been treated; you will find that they never come back to you again. Some people in this world are incredibly petty. And, the littlest thing can cause a whole lot of trouble. So, it’s worth making sure that you cover all the bases when it comes to your customer’s service. To help you out, this post will be going through three areas of customer service. And, the ways that you can make sure that they’re running at optimum efficiency. Now, all you have to do is get to work!

Social Media

Social media is one of the greatest gifts given to businesses. For one, it can help loads with marketing and advertising. But, along with this, social media can also be a great place to host some of your customer service. Most people have a social media account of some sort. So, you have a good chance of them being able to reach you through this method. Twitter is probably the best place for customer services. It pairs a simple platform, with a good messaging system and no fuss. Unfortunately, as your business gets bigger looking after customer service on a platform like this will become a fulltime role. You will need to have a staff member dedicated to this job. But, they can also do some other work with social media.

Part of treating your customers well is providing them with easy and accessible information about your products. Customers won’t often go out of their way to learn about your business. But, if they find a Facebook post that they like the look of; you might just real them in. Thankfully, this won’t take as much time as customer service on social media. And, there are even tools available to help. If you can dedicate a day to working on social media, you can set yourself up for months. Making loads of posts at once is a great way to make sure that your content remains consistent. Once you have a stockpile, you can use a tool like Buffer to have the posts that you make automatically posted onto the sites of your choice.

Email/Livechat/Phones

Support comes in various forms. And, one of the best for small businesses is email. A lot of companies have email support because it gives them a way to have cases handled in a timely fashion. Agents won’t be stuck on the phone or on livechat. Instead, they can read an email and get to work. When you provide you users with the chance to email you, it’s critical that you have the right kind of email address. It should match the web-address of your website. And, it should include a word like support somewhere. Most customers will prefer to get their support like this. It enables you to give them all of the information they need in a way that they can use it at their convenience.

Next up in the mix comes live chat. If you want to have live chat support for your customer; you will have to have some staff to cover it. Thankfully, though, you won’t have to have many. It’s not uncommon for live chat operators to be working on 5 or 6 chats at once. This gives you the opportunity to cover a lot more ground. And, will enable you to have issues resolved very quickly. You can have software added to your website that will allow you to have live chat features. This sort of extension will have to be installed by a professional developer, though.

The most traditional form of support comes with phones. Having your customers being able to call your business can have a huge impact on the support that they get. Talking to a human is one of the easiest ways to have something resolved. And, a lot of people know it. Most small businesses won’t have the resources to cope with this on their own, though. So, the help of a virtual call center company could go very far. This sort of service will enable your calls to be mainly handled by a computer. Then, only the ones that need to come to the business will.

Feedback

The feedback that you get from customers is invaluable to your business. It gives you an insight into how your customer think you are doing. And, it can provide you with new ways to improve your business. So, it’s critical that you read the reviews you get. And, in some cases, it can even be worth directly asking for reviews. This should always be done when you’ve had a customer experience encounter with someone. Gathering feedback can be done on your own website. Or, you can use a survey making tool to collect the data for you. The data that you receive is very important, and you should always have a record of it.

Feedback can be a hard game to play. It’s easy to monitor the feedback that you ask for. This information will be stored on your own servers. So, you’ll be able to access it whenever you want. But, the reviews that you get on websites like TripAdvisor and Google Reviews won’t be. Instead, they will be in some far off part of the internet. Thankfully, though, you don’t have to go through every last site to find them. Feedback management software comes in loads of different forms. Some services can monitor different sites for you automatically. But, some will have to be set up by hand. Either way, these are very powerful tools that can give a clear picture of your businesses reputation.

Hopefully, this will inspire you to start trying to improve your customer experience. It’s important to take into account what people think of your business. A lot of companies will let these areas slip and end up with a very bad reputation. Unfortunately, companies can only work like this if they provide a service that no one else does.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article

The Hospitality Business Bible

People running businesses in the hospitality industry have to work hard to ensure they maintain standards. There are lots of tools and concepts that help them to achieve that goal. For the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on the management of hotels. However, much of the advice on this page applies to all companies under that umbrella. So, take some of the suggestions and tailor them for your company. At the end of the day, people who build a negative reputation will struggle to turn things around. That is why it’s imperative that everyone pays attention.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article
Photo courtesy of Kristoffer Trolle via flickr

Use technology to your advantage

Firstly, all hotel managers can make their lives easier by using the latest technology. Developers from Mingus Software say it’s the best way to keep on top of essential duties. There’s no point working harder than is necessary to create the best experience for guests. The right software could handle everything from the moment they check in until they leave. Also, there’s no need to spend time entering data into multiple systems. You can manage everything from the same page, and that will help to save a lot of time.

Ensure all guests leave with a smile

As a hotel manager, it’s your duty to ensure all guests leave feeling satisfied. That means you need to work hard to ensure they never have any issues. Of course, some people will make complaints no matter how much effort you make. Still, you will keep a clear conscience if you know you did everything possible to assist. It’s wise to ask guests to fill a short questionnaire during the checking out process. It could be all you need to do to make your business a success. That way, you give them the opportunity to highlight some of the ways in which they think you could have improved. Feedback of that nature is the best tool at your disposal for making sure you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article
Photo courtesy of Martin Dube via flickr

Go above and beyond the call of duty

It’s vital that all managers strive to go above and beyond what their guests expect. That could mean something simple like leaving a birthday card in a room. You could also place a bottle of wine in a cooler when you know someone is celebrating an anniversary. It won’t break the bank, but you could ensure future custom from the happy couple. Also, you’re going to see some pretty pleasing reviews on TripAdvisor if you do things like that. With a bit of luck, other people will see the effort you made, and that will encourage them to make a booking too.

You should now have some excellent ideas about what you can do to become a better manager. The tips should apply to any business within the hospitality industry. So, consider the advice and try to put it into action as soon as possible. Your company will build a positive reputation, and you’ll have lots of returning customers. Of course, there is always more to learn, and so you should continue your research after leaving this page. There are plenty of other articles on this blog that could help you to take things to the next level. So, have a look around before you leave.

Noah Fleming

If You Want Happier Customers Get These Three Things Right

Most executives I talk to feel like they’re drowning in data and yet anyone and everyone within the organization is telling them they need more and more data! Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all the things you need to worry about, let alone the collection of “big data” with the belief that data might help you generate better customer relations, or a more loyal customer!?

I’m going to let you in on a big secret. The companies and clients that I work with who are at the top of their games, or continuously increasing revenue are only really placing a concerted effort on three key areas. I’m going to warn you, there’s nothing ground-breaking here that you don’t already know, but how these companies are focusing on these areas might surprise you.

I’m a customer loyalty and retention expert. I’ll tell you until the cows come home that most organizations are too focused on the new customer at the expense of their existing customers, but I’m also a realist. The current customer is the beating heart of any great business, but you need new customers to grow. Anybody who tells you otherwise should be thrown from your office. Today we’re going to about new and existing customers.

The first area that these companies excel in is their uncanny ability to sell to their existing customers more often. I said sell, not just “market to,” and not just putting offers in front of them, but selling. You need the same level of gravitas and effort that is put towards new customer acquisition, applied to selling more to your existing customer base. That requires a customer retention process. Most businesses have a sales process but not a retention process. The best companies do.

I once heard an author and marketer say that all great sales & marketing is just about sharing your message over and over again. He might have been half right, once. A decade ago, maybe a quarter right. Now, it’s more like a tenth.

If you want to sell to your prospects and existing customers either the first time or the sixth time, then you need to get three things right. But you need to get them right, all the time and every time.

1. You need to maintain top-of-mind awareness with your prospects and existing customers. Some of your prospective customers aren’t ready to buy yet, and some existing customers might buy from your competitors if you’re not there. Here’s an example.

I was doing a workshop with a 60M construction firm. During the workshop, an employee in the back of the carefully raised his hand and asked if he could make a confession. With the CEO room I didn’t know what to expect, but here’s what he told us.

They had just finished an enormous and successful project. The client was thrilled! But when he returned to the client a month or two later, he found their biggest competitor performing an even larger job. They didn’t even get a chance to quote, and when he enquired the client just kind of shrugged it off and said, “They were here at the right time.”

How often is this happening in your business? Customer loyalty is never owed. It’s a function of day in and day out marketing.

2. You need maintain consistent and valuable messing. You need to have effective sales and marketing processes for before, during, and after the sale. You can’t just show up on your customer’s doorstep when you’re looking to meet quotas or get the next deal. The best companies are consistently showing up with value.

I was speaking to a group of Executives in Calgary when one woman raised her hand and asked me the following question, “Why would we continue to spend time, energy, and money communicating with our existing customers in a down economy when they don’t have any money to spend?” This is exactly the type of backward thinking that plagues organizations everywhere. Eventually, they’ll have money to spend and guess where they’ll be spending it!

3. Lastly, you need a way to test, track, measure, and ensure your sales and marketing, and customer-related processes are being completed, and that the things you expect to be happening are actually happening.

With another client, the CEO expected that when a sale was made, there was a handoff to the next person, and a package was sent to each and every customer. It took about half a day and talking to a handful of their new customers to find out this was happening, but rarely. It was only happening about 20% of the time. I’m continually advocating that you need a defined sales process for each stage of the buying cycle, and proper reporting to show you the right things are getting done. Without a systematized process, it’s virtually impossible to know where you need to improve, or where you’re dropping the ball.

Getting these three things right is all about having the right tools, processes, and procedures in place. If you do that, your organization will run smoother, your customers will be happier, and you’ll be more profitable. It’s hard to argue against that.

Over 20,000 executives receive my weekly Tuesday Tidbit. You can subscribe here. Every week I give them a specific challenge they can take back and use in their companies. Here’s one for you.

Secret shop your customers and clients. Have someone from outside of your company call a couple of your top clients ask them for a referral for something that’s directly in your wheelhouse and see if your customer refers you.

These are the types of growth-focused challenges that can be hard to swallow. But that’s how we learn. If you hear something that makes you flinch, it likely has nothing to do with the quality of your products and services, and almost everything to do with one the three areas listed above.


About the Author

Noah FlemingNoah Fleming is a globally recognized customer loyalty expert. He works with companies in a broad range of industries with revenues ranging from 5M to 2B per year to create dramatic results. He is the author of the new book, The Customer Loyalty Loop, and the Amazon #1 bestselling book in sales, marketing and customer service categories, Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty that Keeps Your Business Thriving.