Every single company has to deal with billing and collections, but most business owners didn’t go into business because they love bookkeeping. It can be time-consuming for businesses to chase down clients and customers for payments. But there’s a way to help speed up the process. Business texting is used across multiple industries to help ease some of the aches and pains around billing and collections. You can even use business texting and MMS to send a photo of a bill.
Some industries see late payments more than others. For instance, construction businesses tend to see an average of 22.7 percent of their invoices paid late. Retail, on the other hand, only sees about 11 percent of their invoices paid late. Small businesses on the whole are most likely to see late payments, with 33 percent of small businesses reporting that they have more than $20,000 outstanding from customers. Unpaid invoices to small businesses are estimated to total at about $825 billion, according to Fundbox.
We’re going to go over the ways you can use business texting to improve your billing and collections. That way, you won’t have to be one of the many business owners that worry about their cash flow on a regular basis.
What causes late or delinquent payments?
Customers fail to make payments on time for any number of reasons. About a third of all credit card payments made by individuals are late simply due to forgetfulness. Businesses are run by people, and as such forgetfulness might play a part in their late payments too. Other reasons why some customers or individuals might not pay their bills or might pay late are:
- Cashflow problems
- Invoice sent to the wrong department
- Incorrect, or unreceived invoice
- Disputed invoice for goods or services not received
- Unclear directions for how to make a payment
You never want a customer to miss a payment. You especially don’t want them to miss one because they didn’t know they had a bill, weren’t sure how to pay, or some other logistical billing issue. We’re going to discuss below how you can use business texting to make sure your customers are aware they have an invoice and know how to pay it.
How are late payments and delinquent bills dealt with?
Each business will have different rules about what happens when a company or individual fails to pay, but there are a few standards that can be expected. Customers who fail to make a payment, or fail to pay a bill often will be charged a fee in addition to their outstanding bill.
Businesses might send a reminder after a set number of days since the payment should have been made. Usually these reminders would be sent via email or snail mail, or if you use business texting, this would be a great time to use it.
Common times to send a reminder are a week or two weeks after the payment was due. In that reminder, businesses might add details about the late fees that the invoice will incur if it’s not paid in a certain amount of time.
When an invoice goes unpaid long enough, a business might decide to either defer to an invoice factoring business. This means selling unpaid invoices to a company for a fraction of what they’re worth in exchange for the company to take them over and collect the dues. This is a final resort for some businesses with unpaid invoices.
5 ways business texting can help improve billing and collections
There are a few ways you can use business texting to help ease your billing and collection aches.
Easy simple reminders
Use business texting to send your customers reminders about upcoming or missed payments. You can use business texting to send customers a reminder that their bill is due to hopefully avoid a late or missed payment altogether.
But if your customer does somehow still miss a payment, you can use texting to remind them about their missed and late payment. In fact, 42 percent of respondents in one study said they’d most like to receive late payment reminders via text message. This could help you connect better with your customer and collect more.
Send MMS to share invoices
The great thing about business texting is that you can also use MMS when it comes to texting and offering support. The MMS feature offered by Textline can be especially useful for sending your customers their invoices. That way, they’re more likely to see it and to be able to respond with any questions they have about it.
Texting has a 98 percent open rate, so you can be pretty sure that if you send an invoice over text, your customer will see it. Sending an invoice via text makes it easier for you and for your customers to keep track of payments.
Send a direct link as a way to pay
In addition to sending the invoices over text you can also send your customers a direct link for them to be able to pay. The easier you make it for customers to pay, the more likely they are to do it on time. Send a link to a payment portal or direct your customers to a number to call to make a payment.
Answer any questions
If there are any issues with your invoice or your customer thinks there’s a mistake on it, they can ask questions and get them resolved via text. This process is easier than making a call or going back and forth via email, which can take 90 minutes for a response on average. Texting also shortens wait time and eliminates any time spent on hold. The quicker any issues are resolved the more likely your customers are to pay them on time.
Redirect anything necessary
Lastly, if you happen to send an invoice to a customer, and it’s the wrong person within the company they work for, you can redirect it quickly and easily. Invoices going to the wrong person can be a top reason why they go unpaid. If you’re accidentally sending messages to the human resources department when it should be going accounting, it will be delayed. Business texting can help you easily realize this quickly and rectify it.
How texting can improve billing and collections in certain industries
Now that we know the broad ways texting can help you improve your billing and collections, let’s look at some specific industry use cases. We’ve even noted how some Textline customers use texting to improve their billing and collections process.
The financial services industries include everything from lenders for home or car loans to financial services. These are some of the top industries that use Textline to help improve their billing and collections departments.
These businesses use Textline to message their customers and remind them about upcoming payments or ask for delinquent payments. They sometimes also use it to address any payment errors. There’s an opportunity to connect with customers via text to ask them to hop on a phone call to discuss the issue further. That way they don’t need to go into any details around the payment or the problem via text and can have that personal conversation in a more sensitive way.
When it comes to healthcare, bills are dreaded. Anything you can do to make it easier on your customers to get their bills paid is a welcome addition to the process. Healthcare is also a great industry to use business texting for billing because you can use it to answer questions and explain any discrepancies.
Some healthcare companies also use business texting to help remind their customers of bill payment dates, a helpful tool for those who are on a payment plan for their bills. Remember that when you’re using business texting for healthcare purposes, you need to follow HIPAA compliance regulations. Be sure that you’re legally texting customers and protecting your business in the process.
Another industry that uses business texting to boost their billing and collections is any industry that relies on a subscription payment schedule. These industries have recurring billing and require recurring payments from their customers. Of course, some customers have their payments set up to charge to a credit card or come out of a bank account each payment cycle.
But others who don’t have autopay set up can find themselves missing a payment more easily. These recurring payments might go by without a customer realizing how much time had passed. Or if the payment fluctuates month-to-month they might find they don’t quite have the money on a particularly expensive month. Textline customers use texting to let customers know what their upcoming payment is and when it’s due, or to communicate if a payment method on record is expired.
Some home services, like cleaning, or maintenance, can sometimes be subscription style or at least repeat services. Thus, the billing and invoicing can frequently repeat. Other industries that fall under home services might be apartment buildings that collect rent, or even lawn and garden services.
All of these industries can benefit from using business texting for their billing and collections. You can connect with your customers and remind them of when they might need service, or check in if they haven’t paid for their most recent service.
The bottom line: Improve your billing and collections with business texting
Now that you know how to use business texting to improve your billing and collections you can start communicating with customers to make sure you get paid on time. Some of the reasons customers make late payments include forgetfulness and a lack of ease with paying. Both can be sorted easily with business texting making it less likely that your customers will pay late for those reasons. It’s just one of the many perks of using business texting.