What would you do if you received a phone bill for two hundred trillion dollars? (Yes, trillion!) As unbelievable as it sounds, it actually happened — Reuben Swartz tells the story in his Dollars and Sense blog.
Yes, billing mistakes happen. But pricing reflects your brand and invoicing errors can erode it. Think about the mistake from the perspective of your customers.
First, they’ll have to invest valuable time to address your mistake – researching the correct pricing, pulling up evidence, contacting your company, waiting for the adjustment, etc. This hassle can cause ill will.
Second, a customer may think that if you can’t send an accurate invoice, you can’t accurately manage other aspects of your product or service. This perception could prevent future purchases.
And don’t forget the potential for lost revenue – customers are less likely to report mistakes that are in their favor.
Don’t let invoicing errors get the best of your good name and brand equity. Here are some tips to help you avoid this costly mistake:
1. Clearly document your pricing programs for all distribution channels, accounts, and general products. Be sure very department has a copy or quick access to the latest info. And make sure everyone knows the details about special promotions.
2. Put a real contact number on the invoice. Instead of listing a generic number, include the contact info for the sales rep, account manager or a specific accounts receivable rep – someone who can address questions or problems on the first touch without having to transfer a call or powwow with others to get an answer for a frustrated customer.
3. Own the mistake and fix it quickly and tactfully. Don’t ask the customer to spend any more time on the issue.
4. Make sure it doesn’t happen again. Everyone knows mistakes happen, but if they happen over and over, it will hurt you.
5. Always apologize for the error, no matter who benefits. There are two extremely powerful words that, when sincerely spoken, let your customer know they really do matter. Those words: “I’m sorry.”
You may even want to distribute a script for dealing with customer problems and complaints. Start it off with something like this:
“I’m sorry _________. We really appreciate your business and I thank you for bringing this matter to my attention…now let’s see if we can find out what happened.”
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