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Customer-controlled experience: It’s the future of billing and payments

Consumers want to be in control of their lives, and to actively shape their relationships with businesses  around their individual needs and priorities. 

They want to be in control of how they access information, products and services, how they share their personal information and transact with brands.

Aided by digital technology, businesses have been responding to this appetite for empowerment in so many areas of consumers’  lives – from online shopping and personal banking, to travel and entertainment. 

That’s why we’re convinced that businesses should prioritize customer-controlled experience (CCX) at the crucial invoicing stage of the customer journey.

Putting control in customers hands

The experience of receiving regular invoices from organizations, making payments to them, and accessing transaction documentation has been largely neglected.

When your customers receive a bill today, there are various ways they can pay it – none of which really give them control. 

Perhaps they have the option to click on a payment link in an email? But let’s face it this is an ill-advised and high-risk action that no business should ever ask its customers to take. 

Some brands ask customers to visit a payment portal on their website or mobile app, and enter their payment information there. But  customers don’t want to have to register to a portal or download an app for each brand they have a financial relationship with. This all involves remembering passwords and handing over financial and personal data to third parties they might not necessarily trust.

Customers that pay bills by direct debit may feel even less in control. Direct debits offer a degree of consumer protection, but it’s the biller that initiates the payment and determines the date and the amount. If a customer wants to change, contest or cancel a direct debit payment it’s a long, complex and often frustrating process.    

Just imagine if, instead of having to pay each supplier in its distinct environment, and on its determined schedule, consumers had their own private, secure space where all bills could be safely received and paid on their own terms. A truly customer-controlled experience.

The customer control paradox

We can guess what you’re thinking. If the customer has more control, doesn’t that increase the risk that they won’t pay on time? Won’t you need more resources to chase late payments? 

Well surprising things can happen when you put consumers in control. We’ve discovered many people will actually pay their bills early rather than waiting for the due date, when they’re given ownership of the process in an environment they control. In fact, an impressive 20% of consumers will pay their bill on the day it is received. And if you incentivise early payment, you’ll find this proportion increases dramatically.  

Improving the customer experience

Putting the customer in control of billing and payments improves their experience. In turn that benefits your business by boosting customer satisfaction, increasing loyalty, and reducing churn. And happy customers make great brand advocates, improving your opportunity to attract new customers.   

Customers in control of billing and payments are happier because:

  • They own the experience. Bills are received and paid within an environment they own, that’s independent from their suppliers and their bank, and that only they have access to. They can prioritize payments and pay bills when they know the money is available, rather than waiting fearfully for unpaid direct debit notifications.
  • Everything’s in one place. Everything from the order, the request for payment, the payment itself and the receipt can be accessed in one place – for all suppliers. This means simplicity and efficiency for the customer, and no more hunting through emails or piles of paperwork to check amounts or find proof of purchase.
  • They trust the environment. Rather than having to access a third-party portal through a link or an app, everything takes place in a private, secure-by-design environment they can trust. And if that environment can guarantee the provenance of any information shared – customers can have confidence requests for payment are real and not fraudulent.

There are other benefits to putting customers in control via their own private billing space. As well as increasing customer satisfaction and getting bills paid on time, you’ll get guaranteed delivery (no more dealing with undelivered mail or lost emails) and enhanced security and data protection to help you meet the growing demands of privacy regulations.  

To find out how you can put ownership of billing and payments in your customers’ hands, and start enjoying the resulting rewards, check out our guide, A new future for billing and payments.