Invoicing is a very important part of any business, as it is directly related to a company’s revenue. In the following article, we are going to cover what we believe are the best practices when it comes to the process for collecting payment from clients.
Before we start discussing what the best practices are when it comes to invoicing, we should first go over what an invoice is. An invoice is a dated document that itemizes and documents a transaction between a business and a client, or sometimes even a business and a business.
Invoices are also considered legal documents because they record the details and terms of a transaction between a business and client. They are also very helpful in monitoring performance by tracking sales and using the data from them for financial management purposes.
The Customer Service Perspective
An invoice is not only a record of your business, it is also considered as communication. So when thinking about your invoicing, you should also relate it to part of your clients customer experience.
Companies that work on improving their customer experience see up to 92% increase in loyalty, 84% increase in revenue and 79% cost saving. Therefore, it makes sense that a business should be actively thinking about customer service in all aspects of their communication with clients, and invoicing is one of those channels.
Now we will cover the customer service practices a business should follow when invoicing for goods or services rendered. Below are 14 tips to consider when setting up your system for Estimates and Invoicing for WordPress or any website.
Invoicing Best Practices
1. Simple is better
By minimizing any distractions in your invoice design, you will help to keep the clients focus on what matters most – the business transaction.
2. Branding is important
Invoices are part of your brand communication, so you want to ensure that your invoices reflect your business. This could mean using your brand colors as well as your logo. The good news is there are a ton of great tools that can help you accomplish this, such as Sprout Invoices.
3. Invoice Date and Numbering
When creating an invoicing system for your business, a crucial step that can be easily overlooked is the date and reference number convention. Be sure to include these on the invoice in an easy to view location, as they will become integral when organizing later for both you and your client.
4. Speak to the Business and the Person
When you send an invoice, be sure to mention the person as well as the business you are invoicing. For a small business, this is a personal touch that can add a friendly tone, help to increase loyalty and build your client relationships. For larger businesses, this can help their finance department easily identify the person needed should questions arise, providing value after your transaction has been completed.
5. Appreciation Messaging
Sending a thank you with your invoices is a must if you are concerned about the customer experience your clients have. This is something you can customize on a per client basis, or just adding a simple “We appreciate your business” statement. Either way, it’s easy to go above and beyond here and stand out from the crowd.
6. Descriptions of Line Items
The description of line items is another opportunity to highlight the value of the good or service you are providing.
Be sure to use that opportunity to clearly describe what the client is paying you for, but keep it short and to the point.
7. Terms and Instructions
This is an opportunity to practice clear and concise communication and build trust with your client by being transparent. What is it they are paying for? You want to provide as much information as possible without making it too lengthy.
Sum your work up in as few details as possible. You don’t have to list everything, just the important details.
8. Due Date and Total
Putting the due date and total amount paid will keep everyone on the same page. Having it clearly displayed leaves no room for confusion, and your client will appreciate you for it.
9. Payment Options
The easier it is for your client to pay, the better. You should offer a variety of options, such as credit card processing and PayPal, so your client can use the payment service they are most comfortable and familiar with.
10. Delivery of your Invoices
Sending your client an invoice is crucial, especially if you are sending it via email. Using a read receipt is handy, if you wish to know when your client sees the email.
You can also use a link to the invoice, if you have another way to communicate with your client such as text messaging.
11. Follow up and Remind
Your invoice is most likely not the only one your client is dealing with, so sending a follow up will give them a polite nudge.
Sending your client a reminder is also an opportunity to ask if they needed any further help or had any additional questions.
12. Customer Appreciation
Sending a thank you note is always nice to acknowledge receipt of payment, and another way to provide excellent customer service.
Keep all of your invoices, estimates and payments in one place. This will make it much easier to use your invoices for reporting, and for organization.
The last thing you need when running a business is to add more chaos in your life.
14. Automate with Recurring Payments
Anything that you have to do more than once will give you some of your time back if you automate it. With invoicing, that is very easy with Sprout Invoices, the ultimate WordPress Invoicing plugin.
There are other 3rd party hosted solutions, but you want to be aware that you are also sharing not only your data, but also your customers data with that hosted service. With privacy becoming more a concern, keeping your customers safe requires you having a solid plan that involves not sharing their private info with other services. The more you share it, the more attack vectors that come into play.
The way you collect payment from clients is a customer touch point that should be approached with careful consideration. Taking some time to think about your approach is key to being successful and having happy clients.
Looking for a WordPress Invoice plugin? Sprout Invoices has everything you need and more with integrations with all kinds of payment processors and services to ensure your business can do what you need to do – get paid!