Communicating with customers about bill payments can be a sensitive arena to navigate. Money is personal and your customers most likely have strong feelings on the subject, particularly if their bill is larger than expected, their payment is overdue, or if there are multiple barriers to submitting a payment.
When building up and managing a team of payment representative, it is important to remember that exceptional customer service in this area will have a significant impact on payment collections and increased client loyalty. The methods and attitude with which billing representatives communicate with customers should be aligned with the long-term strategic goals of your organization and payment strategy.
Below are some tips for how to train and manage your billing representatives to effectively communicate and help customers in such a way that will build your business over the long-term.
1. Don’t ask for their information twice.
Be sensitive to your customer’s time. If you have an automated system that asks for a certain piece of information when they first call, such as the last four digits of their social security number, and then they are connected to a representative who then asks for the last four digits of their social again, it communicates to your customer that the various parts of your organization are not working in collaboration with each other or communicating internally. This is especially true if a customer is speaking to multiple representatives in your organization and each one asks for the same information each time.
Ensure that you have a payment processing system that allows this information to be communicated quickly throughout the organization and between coworkers. Not only will this make your customers happy by saving them from having to repeat themselves, but it will allow your organization to receive more calls in a short period
of time and, as a result, increasing payment collections.
2. Know how to explain the details of the bill.
Be prepared to give a reason for every charge on a bill, especially if there are multiple charges and fees. Clear communication is key to customer loyalty and a customer is much more likely to pay a larger bill on time if they understand exactly what it is they are paying for. Building trust between your organization and your customers in this way will facilitate an increase in payments over the long-term, as a client will begin to trust that what they see on the bill has a good reason for being there.
In order to meet this standard across your whole organization, internal training is essential to ensure that every client representative has a thorough understanding of how your organization bills clients and how those bills are organized on paper. Billing representatives should be intimately familiar with your products and services, as well as the reasons for certain fees or penalties.
3. Speak like a human.
In order to build brand loyalty, it is essential for each customer to feel connected to the people at your organization. Connection in this way requires the creation of a relationship between you and the client. If a customer calls about a bill and speaks to someone who is reading from a script and communicates in a monotone voice that lacks empathy or appreciation for the details of that customer’s situation, the customer will feel a lack of any meaningful connection or relationship.
Train your employees to speak without a script and respond to what the customer is saying in such a way that communicates empathy, patience, and appreciation for their unique situation. Schedule team meetings for the billing team to practice speaking with each other and offer feedback. Many time, a representative is unaware of how they sound until someone tells them.
When building a payment strategy, it is important to not only consider the short-term results of each customer call (collecting one specific payment) but the long-term results of how that customer will feel after the interaction with your company. Even if a payment is collected, but the customer walks away from the call feeling unappreciated and confused, your organization has lost the opportunity to build a brand ambassador. So, facilitate an environment that sees every call as an opportunity to achieve long-term results rather than short-term gain.