Even if your company includes a Customer Service department, the responsibility for delivering exceptional customer service should be included in every employee’s job description.
For Customer Service Week, I’m exploring the role of each department.
Yesterday we looked at Customer service within HR, now we shift focus to finance. The correlation between your finance team and customer services may not be clearly evident. So what part does financial management play in meeting customer’s expectations?
We could start by going back to basics; in order to be a successful business, you need to turn a profit. In order to be profitable, you are reliant on custom. If one can’t survive without the other, there is clearly a strong connection.
Those dealing with the company finances may not directly meet any of your customers. If you use a bookkeeper and accountant take care of the numbers, then they maybe even further removed, however, customer service is still an important consideration.
Does your company have clear payment terms? These clarify the conditions of a sale and encourage prompt payment. If your company are receiving payments on time, you are less likely to get into financial difficulty. In turn, this ensures that you can be a good customer and pay suppliers on time. The cycle continues, because with money in the pot you have sufficient stock or resources to meet future customer orders or to invest in the business and better fulfil customer requests.
Another benefit of clear terms is that if payments are outstanding, your team can chase customers with greater confidence. They can refer to the payment terms and deal with the matter professionally.
When a customer places an order, they want it to be processed efficiently. If your finance team are organised and responsive, the customer will quickly receive confirming that payment has been taken and a receipt. Alternatively, they will be sent an invoice whilst the work is still fresh in their mind, which improves the chance of the bill being settled quickly.
With clear financial processes in place, it is easy to gain an overview of the payment status of all customers. It avoids an awkward conversation when you’ve chased a customer who has paid, as well as ensuring that no one slips through the net. It’s always a surprise to hear that many businesses simply forget to send an invoice for work they have carried out. Although the customer is unlikely to complain, it can dent your reputation as a credible company.
If you are selling goods, the customer has a right to return items that are damaged or faulty and receive their money back within 30 days of purchase. It is important to make this process straightforward and to debit their card as quickly as possible. The same applies if you offer a guarantee; don’t quibble, and resolve the issue in a polite and helpful manner. This is the only way to encourage the customer to return.
Even if those responsible for financial management never come face to face with customers, they will benefit from customer service training. It will show how their work impacts the reputation of the company and the experience of the customer. If both of these factors are consistently positive, it equates to more money in the pot.