Invoicing and payments
Businesses have been using email to send invoices since email became available. The ability to deliver the invoice electronically dramatically improved the time for the customers to receive the bill and simplified the tracking process for businesses by creating a record of transmission for the event of lost invoices or payment disputes.
Applications like QuickBooks and FreshBooks took advantage of this delivery method to simplify the billing process and add value to their customers by incorporating the billed amounts directly into the companies P&L or ledger for later tax and cash solvency calculations. These applications however were not what businesses were using to accept payments so there was no way for them, when sending invoices, to get their customers to pay the invoice electronically.
Listening to customers
5% of PayWithUs customers had been requesting an electronic invoicing solution on joining the company, with their requests beginning in 2014, and were promised that a solution was in the works. With 2-5% of the monthly support calls as follow up requests for a solution, it was clear that these customers weren’t going to be satisfied until the promise was met.
The sales team was feeling the pressure on price negotiations from not being able to identify more of a clear differentiation in PayWithUs product features when compared with the competition and they were communicating this feedback very openly. Based off this customer and team feedback, PayWithUs decided to launch a eInvoicing solution.
Developing a competitive advantage
After reviewing the competition and talking with customers, it became clear that the traditional competitors of PayWithUs did not currently offer an invoicing solution with embedded payments. Third party applications that served accounting functions were being used by customers to meet their emailed invoicing needs but the embedded payment experience was still waiting to be realized.
Prototypes to validate
The most valuable way to ensure that customers want and will use what will be built is by engaging them early and frequently in the design phase of the project. The wireframes and prototypes can be readily understood by anyone using them and often demonstrate a complete experience and set of functionality.
Beta customers and commercial launch
Presenting customers with the prototypes and beta versions of the eInvoicing solution allowed for key feature changes that created a successful and welcomed commercial version of the solution. Thankfully, the PayWithUs development team was following an agile build method so a new version was available every 3 weeks with changes communicated and included rapidly in the newer versions.
Increased overall customer sales
The PayWithUs team decided on using the change in the total customer sales volume as the key metric to determine the success or failure of the eInvoicing solution. This metric was decided on as it included both the anticipated increase in sales of existing customers and the increased close rate for new customers from the sales team having a clear point of competitive differentiation.
Total monthly customer revenues increase by 20% to 25% over the 3 months after the commercial launch, compared with previous growth of 15%, so the solution launch was determined to be a success.