[The Continuance] Steps 7-10 from Tuesday's blog focuses on important tips on how to improve field-service invoicing. On-the-spot invoices that match the original quote in an appealing design often lead to customer satisfaction and repeat business.
7) Simple Easy-to-Read Design
All too often, businesses will send an invoice designed in a spreadsheet and copied directly into the email format. This results in tiny tightly spaced lines of invoiced items or big blocky letters if it has been scaled up. Your invoice is a vital part of customer communications and deserves a little attention to design. You want customers to be able to skim over the invoice, immediately understand what they're looking at, and approve the exchange in no more than 2-5 seconds.
Work with a visual designer or find pre-designed invoicing software that presents the invoice items in a comfortable layout that is easy to skim. Item names should be in bold and the costs must line up decimal-perfectly so that the total rings up automatically in the customer's mind. Subtotals are not a bad idea for itemized package services.
8) Include Direct Link to Customer Service
Understanding that there will be invoice disputes, the best way to deal with the inevitable is to be prepared. For customers who look at their invoice and see a mistake, have a question, or want to hire you for something else, always have contact information available in two forms. First, write out the ways you can be contacted through the traditional routes: mail, phone, and email. These ensure that customers can find you no matter what, even if they're looking at an offline copy of the invoice with a home maintenance emergency.
Second, invite customers to find more immediate customer service through a handy direct link. Make sure to include a printed URL for those who don't or can't click links in emails. This should lead to your 'contact us' page, a live chat channel, your help center, or your social media page if that's all you have. It's ideal to have at least a minimal help center that links to the blog, FAQ, email, live chat, and possibly VOIP phone.
9) Call to Action
Finally, never forget that even an invoice can include a call to action. You can absolutely close your email by encouraging customers to follow with a desired action. On an invoice, it makes perfect sense to use your call-to-action powers to improve timely payment. A friendly paragraph can explain to customers how to pay the invoice (another handy link is useful here) and when it is due. When the due date comes off as an 'afterthought', it will seem less demanding and more encouraging for customers to pay. Never forget to place your due date in an easy-to-find place on your invoice. Customers can easily get annoyed if they waste valuable time trying to find out when the bill is due.
Bonus Tip: Avoid mentioning deadlines or fees at this time and keep the message positive. If you want to convey your payment policy information on the invoice itself, include a link to your
Of course, you don't just have to use one call to action to get customers to pay the invoice. With the right invoice design, you can add a second call to action below the expected payment information inviting customers to work with your service again. This is your friendly sign-off where you wave your hat and say "If you need anything, just call" in whatever way is appropriate for your industry. It leaves a good impression.
10) If You Print - Include Something for the Fridge
If you do still print your invoices and aren't planning on stopping any time soon, consider making effective use of your direct mail opportunity. Don't just send the invoice, include something that can be stuck to the side of a fridge as an emergency number. Almost every field service qualifies as some kind of emergency service, from HVAC to home cleaning. Simply being on the fridge can make a world of difference for repeat customers. The easiest way is a foldable printout followed by business cards and flyers. But magnets are the most likely to stay on the fridge forever holding up
Taking the Sting out of Invoices
Nobody likes to get an invoice, but there are many ways that you can soften the sting. Expectations management and appealingly simple design are the keys to creating and delivering invoices that your customers don't mind reading and pleasant surprises, such as a discount, can even make them enjoyable. Top this off with a friendly call to action and a memorable offer of additional services to complete your excellent customer service interaction. For more tips and techniques on improving your field-service business, contact www.ServicePower.com today.