article

Have You Looked at Your Invoice Lately?

Posted: 12/2002

Have You Looked at Your Invoice
Lately?
Tips for Maximizing Monthly Customer
Contact

By Ron Whaley

When you connect with your customers
each month through your bill, the appearance communicates more than you realize.
A well-designed, easy to read invoice has many paybacks. For your customers, it
demonstrates that you value their business by updating them with important
information and offering new products or services.

In the end, a good bill can mean
tremendous cost savings and increased revenue for your business. You should
evaluate your invoice to make certain you aren’t missing out on enormous
opportunities.

If you’re not using your bill
properly, the solution might be a simple makeover. Below is a "before and
after" of an invoice that has been revamped to hit the mark:


Click Here for Chart

Before

Branding. By not using a
color logo or graphic, this company is missing out on a valuable opportunity to
increase its brand recognition with customers through its invoice. Customers
also are more likely to open mail from a familiar source.

Summary. Displaying the
current charges and total amount due is a critical part of an invoice, however
it is not clearly presented in this format. The two boxes crowd the page and
critical data, such as amount due, is hidden in this unorganized layout.

Postnet Barcode. This section
does not include a remittance address or postnet barcode. As a result, the
provider is forced to use a closed face, pre-printed envelope, limiting them to
a single lockbox.

Remittance Section. A
recipient first looks at the amount due and the due date. Here the customer has
to look in multiple locations to find that information. Also, the remittance
section always should include the company logo.

After

Branding. Research proves
that incorporating a color logo into your invoice can improve brand recognition
by up to 80 percent. This invoice properly reinforces the corporate branding
through multiple logo placements.

Remittance Section. The due
date was bolded and brightened with highlight color to capture their attention.
By clearly displaying this information to customers, payment response time can
increase up to 30 percent and full amount paid by 3 percent.

Summary. The rundown of
billing information is easier to read in this format and takes up less space. A
highlight color also was added to draw attention to the total amount due, making
it easier for the recipient to find the amount to pay.

Co-branding. An invoice
provides an excellent opportunity to co-brand a partner to your customers
through the use of multiple logos or agent logos. The "before" version
of the invoice didn’t take advantage of this tactic.

Customers can have a difficult time
understanding their monthly invoice if the layout is not easy to follow. Using
the right format creates a customer-friendly invoice that can result in faster
payment.

The recommended layout of an invoice
is in double columns. It allows you to place more on each page and keeps the
information organized. Fitting more data on a piece of paper can reduce the
number of invoice pages and save significant money on printing and postage
costs. Double columns also make it easier to read, because the format is
familiar — it’s the same one used in newspapers and magazines.

An invoice also can speed the cash
flow process if the layout includes an OCR line. The line is scanned and posts
the payment directly to a lockbox account. This automates the remittance process
and gets money back to the company more rapidly.

However you format your invoice,
remember it does more than ask for payment. It’s about connecting with
customers. Clearly communicating with customers will result in increased
customer retention and loyalty, and will keep you a step ahead of the
competition.

Ron Whaley is vice president of
sales and marketing for OSG Billing Services Inc.


Click Here for Chart

Call Detail: Before

The call detail below is in a format
that is difficult for a customer to read. It is also not utilizing space
properly by keeping the data in one column. This can result in an increased
number of pages in an invoice and higher postage costs.

Call Detail: After

This invoice allows a customer to
find specific information about a call very easily. An important factor is the
format of the call detail. By laying out the data into columns the amount of
space used on a page is reduced. This decreases the number of pages of an
invoice, which will save considerable money on postage costs.

Messaging: Before

This message is not easy to locate
and does not stand out to entice the customer to read the data. It is also using
fixed pitch fonts, which means that every letter is the same size and uses the
same amount of space. This can increase the amount of space used, limits the
text of a message and is difficult to read.

Messaging: After

The proper format is to have
important messages in easy-to-find places, as on the invoice below. It also
should use proportional fonts where each letter has relative spacing. This
allows for more text in a message and most importantly, makes it easier to read.

 

The
Links
OSG Billing Services Inc. www.osgbilling.com


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