For many growing business owners, staying on top of cash flow and ensuring timely payments from your customers is time-consuming but also key to a smooth operation. The success of your business primarily depends on the ability to collect on-time payments from customers. As payment technology continues to evolve, the expectation for a great customer experience does as well. This includes the payment process.
Offering multiple ways to pay—whether it’s online or on-the-go—provides a more convenient experience for your customers, and a faster way for your business to get paid. Additionally, a streamlined collection process can mean less time spent on the phone, providing less back-and-forth for your office staff. With a streamlined collection process for your business, getting paid on time is easier than you think.
Here are 7 easy contact-free ways to collect customer payments.
1. Send Electronic Invoices
Invoices are frequently used by professional services or service-based companies to request payment. Invoices can be sent via mail. However, sending paper invoices can be a time-consuming and expensive process between printing, addressing envelopes, and sending them through the mail.
Online invoicing technology, like that available through Stax, allows business owners the opportunity to streamline the collection of customer payments through a powerful online payment solution. Sending an electronic invoice allows you to email a balance due directly to your customer’s inbox, along with a convenient button to securely pay online. With more bill payments occurring online, customers have come to expect the convenience of sending a credit card payment with just a click of a button.
For the business owner, online invoices can significantly cut down on the amount of administrative work needed. Plus, you can even include payment due dates on your online invoices helping you to better manage expectations with your customers.
2. Add a “Pay Now” Button to Your Website
For many businesses, a website is more than just a destination for potential customers to learn about the business. It’s also a potential revenue stream, allowing them to securely accept payments online from customers, without having to be in the office physically to answer a phone call.
For example, a business that requires their customers to pay a deposit prior to an event or before any work is done could add a “Pay Now” button to their website, allowing their customers to submit a payment at their convenience – even outside of normal business hours. With the right technology partner, entrepreneurs can rest easy knowing that their customer payment information is securely stored, and online payments can be collected at any time of day.
3. Accept Text2Pay Payments On-the-go
Text payments have a 97% open rate compared to email. Once received, it takes the average customer 90 seconds to respond to them. With fewer consumers carrying cash, more business owners are almost required to obtain payment processing technology that allows them to accept mobile payments from anywhere. With contactless payment solutions on the rise, Text2Pay has become a necessity for businesses that want to optimize their payment experiences.
Businesses with field technicians, for example, need the flexibility of having both an online invoicing platform with a mobile payment option. Using a virtual terminal gives users the ability to create an online invoice from their office and complete the sale using Text2Pay. This flexibility ensures that businesses are able to close out transactions as soon as the work is completed – leading to more reliable cash flow and faster payments without any of the hassle. Plus, from the customer’s side – the convenience of paying right from their phone means they no longer have to wait to receive a final bill or worry about trying to remember to mail in a payment.
Related Article: What Is Text to Pay and How Can You Leverage It for Your Business
4. Schedule a Payment in Advance
Payment automation platforms allow business owners to quickly schedule payments ahead of time – ensuring that late payments are a thing of the past. Scheduling a payment in advance automatically charges your customers based on a yearly, monthly, daily, or even hourly schedule. Used frequently by businesses charging subscriptions, like a gym membership, scheduling a payment ahead of time allows you to streamline your payment process and save countless hours per month in billing your customers.
The main benefit of using a payment automation platform is that it allows businesses to securely tokenize and store their customer payment information one time, and save it for future auto-pay transactions. Plus, with card expiration notifications, business owners can easily see when a payment method is about to expire, allowing them to reach out proactively to their customers to update their card information before a transaction attempt.
5. Consider ACH Payments
Payments processed through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network are facilitated through bank to bank transfers. So when you collect payments from customers, you’ll need their bank account info. ACH transfers usually take one to three business days to complete.
As for the costs, ACH payment fees are around 1% of the transaction with a $10 cap. The average transaction cost is around $0.29, which is significantly lower than credit card processing. As such, they are ideal for professional service providers that sell premium and high-end offerings.
6. Pre-authorize a Transaction
Pre-authorized payments are another way to quickly accept payments from your customers. For businesses like hotels or car rental agencies, where the final amount of the sale is unknown when the card is first swiped, pre-authorizations are a core function of doing business.
Pre-authorizing a transaction acts as a hold for funds on a credit card, and no funds will be deducted until the business processes a capture on the card. Using a payment platform like a virtual terminal allows you to easily see how much of your business’ cash flow is currently held in a pre-authorized state from your dashboard – and it can help you plan ahead for any incoming funds.
What payment collection methods work best for your business?
In today’s day and age, business owners no longer need to rely on traditional payment collection methods. Gone are the days of waiting for checks to be mailed in to the office, or for customers to call in a payment. With a growing list of options for accepting contactless payments, businesses simply need to understand what options are available to them and identify options that help improve the customer experience.
7. Promote Contactless Payments in Person
Being contact-free with your payments doesn’t mean you can’t collect customer payments in person. If you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer or a merchant that requires face-to-face interactions, you can implement contactless payments with the right technology.
There are many NFC-enabled payment terminals that support contactless payments, allowing your customers to pay with their phones or contacless debit or credit cards.
How to Collect Payments from Customers
Once you have your payment methods and solutions in place, it’s time to ensure that you actually get paid. Here are some tips that can help.
Stay on top of payment prompts and reminders
One of the best ways to get paid on time is to prompt and remind customers to do so. When payments are due, immediately communicate it to your clients or shoppers. Depending on your business, this can come in the form of an invoice, email, text message, or phone call. When sending prompts or follow-ups, ensure that you give them clear instructions on how to remit the payment.
Need inspiration? Consider the following example:
Hi [CUSTOMER NAME] —
This is a reminder that your payment for [PRODUCT / SERVICE] is due on [INSERT DATE]. To avoid late fees and penalties, please remit the payment using the following link or by getting in touch with our office.
[Indicate the amount due]
It’s been a pleasure serving you and we appreciate your business!
Make sure your payment terms are visible
You may run into issues if your customers aren’t sure about your payment terms. Do you expect payments up front or after the service has been rendered? Should customers pay immediately or do you work using a Net 30/60/90 days agreement?
Whatever the case, communicate your policies clearly in your customer communications.
Reward early payments
If it makes sense for your business, give people an incentive for paying early or up front. Some merchants, for example, give their customers a small discount or some extra perks for paying early.
Consider penalizing late payments
You can also choose to implement past due fees when customers fail to pay on time. But in the case of non-payment or extremely overdue payments, you may want to seek help from a collections agency to work on your behalf.
Use the right tech solutions
Collecting and managing payments manually can be a pain, so it’s worth investing in robust payment technology solutions that can aid the process. This starts with the right payment processor.
Partner with a provider that can support modern payment methods — including the ones we discussed above. Stax, for example, enables you to accept credit card payments, ACH, eChecks, and even text payments. Plus, with features like invoicing, automatic reminders, and recurring payments, we help eliminate manual work and human error from the equation. As such, merchants can focus less on collecting payments and devote more energy to revenue-driving activities.
It also helps to integrate your payments systems with your accounting software. Doing so makes it easier to track your business finances so you can avoid cash flow problems and keep your books in top shape.
With the right technology partner, small business owners can rest easy knowing that their customer payment information is secure, while also freeing up time and energy to focus on what matters most – growing their business.
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