Are Your Customer Management and Billing Processes Up to Scratch Now Inflation Is Back?
For years, businesses have enjoyed the relative calm waters of low inflation and easy access to cheap money. Financial and business processes were established during this period, designed to operate effectively under such conditions. But what if the seas are now becoming rougher? What if the financial ecosystem we've known for so long is undergoing a seismic shift?
Let's be clear about one thing: that era of tranquillity is over.
Historically, companies have factored in a certain percentage of their customer base failing to pay on time, or even at all. It was a loss, but a manageable one. A certain buffer was acceptable due to the prevailing conditions. However, with the spectre of inflation making a comeback, this laid-back approach to customer management and billing is no longer sustainable.
Economic pundits and analysts are consistent in their belief: interest rates are unlikely to be slashed any time soon. In fact, we might not see any relief until late 2024 or early 2025. With this in mind, the hope for an imminent financial relief seems like a distant mirage. The implication for businesses is stark – there is no safety net of lowered rates to cushion them from the harsh realities of increasing inflation.
Let's talk numbers
If funding costs rise, so too do staffing costs. For many, this translates to thinning profit margins. Herein lies the problem: businesses cannot merely rely on growth to counter these effects. The adage 'grow or die' no longer holds water. The emphasis must now shift from blind growth to intelligent, strategic operations. Processes that were previously overlooked or left un-innovated, often because they were seen as non-core, must now be brought into the spotlight. It's no longer about growing bigger; it's about growing smarter.
Consider the current landscape of customer expectations. The contemporary customer is more mobile-first and digitally savvy than ever before. The days of paper bills, snail mail reminders, and manual follow-ups are waning. Digital is the name of the game, and if your billing processes are not congruent with this reality, you are not just at risk of inefficiency, but obsolescence.
With more consumers shifting online, digital billing and customer management systems need to be agile, efficient, and user-friendly. Inflation may be squeezing the consumer’s wallet, but it's also propelling the demand for convenience and immediacy.
A startling revelation from Finder.com.au underscores the weight of this situation, and also opportunity for businesses. The bank of mum and dad is alive and well for more than just home deposits. According to their study, one-third of parents are already stepping in to help pay their children's bills.
This isn't merely an indicator of a generation's broader economic pressures but also one of showing how much family will help each other stay on top of bills. A key opportunity in this therefore is making sure your business is getting its fair share, while making existing family sharing easier, secure, trusted and trackable.
When the younger demographic, presumably more agile and adaptive, is under such strain, it’s a clarion call for businesses to introspect and adapt.
So, what’s the way forward?
Reassess and Reinvent: Scrutinise every aspect of your customer management and billing processes. Ask the hard questions. Is it efficient? Is it digital-first? Does it cater to the shifting demands of today’s consumers?
Embrace Automation: Automation can reduce errors, speed up processes, and ultimately save costs. Billing automation, for instance, ensures timely reminders, updates, and even offers tailored to individual customer profiles.
Innovation is Key: Remember, it's not about grand reinventions but continuous, iterative innovations. Small tweaks in processes, incorporating feedback, and regularly updating systems can make a massive difference.
Customer-centric Approach: Keep the customer at the heart of all decisions. If processes are designed keeping in mind customer convenience, loyalty and prompt payments are more likely.
To conclude, the return of inflation isn't just an economic term or a headline; it's a reality that every business, big or small, has to grapple with. While external conditions may not be under our control, how we adapt, innovate, and remain resilient is entirely up to us. Remember, it's not the strongest who survive, but the most adaptable. Ensure your customer management and billing processes are up to the challenge.
Helppay is a 100% Australian owned and operated company that partners with service organisations in complex and highly regulated industries to improve cash flow, reduce customer debt and enhance companies social standing by removing debt from the communities they serve..
HelpPay's B2C app makes getting and giving help easy and trusted and Helppay's B2B platform and API enables businesses to offer a debt prevention service and track performance in conjunction with existing customer soltutions and billing programs.