Is the word “efficiency” so cliché these days that we’ve forgotten exactly what it means? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as the ratio of useful work performed to the total energy expended. The Business Dictionary switches out the concept of energy with resources expended, which should at minimum include the time taken, the effort made, and the cost involved. Let’s see how we can apply these concepts to the single most useful aspect of running a successful business: Getting paid.
The desired work performed is easy to define: Your customers receive some sort of billing from your company, and they respond by paying you. The path to payment, though, can be anything but a quick trip in a straight line. For instance, do your customers…
- Receive a paper bill with an envelope included, find their checkbook, write out a check, stuff and seal it in the envelope, find a stamp for the envelope, and go to the nearest mail receptacle? Granted, it wasn’t too long ago that most bills were paid this way, but it sure sounds like a lot of time and effort by today’s standards. The cost is low on your customer’s end, but your costs include everything that has to be done at your office to process that check, including the efforts of your staff.
- Get that paper bill, but instead of sticking with paper, head to the phone? It seems like a more convenient option, but are you aware of exactly what their customer journey is in this case? Likely they call your contact center, wait on hold for the next available agent, call out their account number, wait for their account to be pulled up on the agent’s system, state and confirm their identity to that agent, confirm their amount to be paid, provide their information for processing payment (whether it be credit card or ACH), confirm the payment information, wait while the transaction goes through, copy down their confirmation ID….. When you look at them side by side, does this almost seem like even more time and effort than the mail? And, while it’s free for your customers, your business is still incurring all the costs of processing the payment, including paying for telephony and for your contact center staff to perform this fairly invariable function repeatedly, every day.
Then there are the side trips in this most important of customer journeys: What if their bill gets mislaid? What if they try to call your contact center after business hours? What if they just plain forget to pay it? What are your options for getting them back on track to “payment status: current,” and how efficient are those options for your business?
Overlaying all these process questions is the simple psychological fact that no one enjoys paying bills. No one likes hunting for stamps; customers have been reporting for years that they hate waiting on hold. Therefore, any process you can put in place for your business and your contact center to make payment processing truly more efficient in terms of time, effort and cost will not only benefit you operationally, but also your customers. And if there’s anyone who appreciates saving time and effort even more than you, it’s every single one of them.
So let’s consider a way for payment processing to be truly more efficient, in all aspects of the definition, for both you and them. Today’s IVR has made such great strides in this area that we have gone on record that your customers should be able to pay their bills over the phone in 90 seconds or less. This is made possible by the optimized call-flow in Plum’s pre-built IVR payment app; the clear, simple payment process means fewer callers get frustrated and transfer out of the app, which means higher completion rates. And, because it’s fully automated, it’s available any time they think to call.
While customer satisfaction is a great place to start improving your payment process, for any improvements to be truly efficient, they must benefit your operations and bottom line, as well. That’s exactly where Plum Voice’s Fuse+ platform gears up. Its intuitive editor lets you customize your IVR voice applications without coding, which means you’re deploying in days, not months. And our platform is agnostic, which means it connects to any payment processor or payment gateway, reducing some payment processing fees.
Finally, it wouldn’t be truly efficient if we didn’t provide a solution for those “life happens” moments in your customers’ lives. Our payment reminder app integrates seamlessly with the payment processing app, sending voice or SMS notifications to your customers to remind them of payments and making your collections process much more efficient. This automation can also proactively notify your customers of upcoming payments before they become delinquent; they can be given their account status and the option to transfer to the payment interface from the very same call. The app can even generate a payment verification and send it through your customer’s choice of channels.
To make sure you’re maintaining smooth customer journeys and top efficiency over time, our Fuse+ platform also includes VoiceTrends, our analytics toolkit that lets you track, update, test and optimize your apps.
To give you an idea how efficient our solutions can be, here are just the briefest of results from a couple of our recent clients:
- When MIC implemented Plum’s solution, their containment rate for payments jumped to 89 percent and their cost per call dropped from $5 to less than 15 cents.
- PSN added Plum’s IVR apps to support their company growth. Their call volume has increased up to 500 percent, but they haven’t had to add agents, and their cost per call is pennies on the dollar.
Finally, it doesn’t matter how efficient your payment processing is if your process doesn’t keep your customers’ data completely secure. Not only are all our solutions PCI-DSS (level 1) compliant and tested to remain so on an ongoing basis, but we’ve achieved a host of other top compliance and security ratings.
So wouldn’t you agree that the most efficient thing you can do now is test out an easy and secure payment processing system? Try our IVR solution for free today.