If your organization is creating and distributing paper and electronic bills for your clients, who's handling the payments?

  • Does it make sense to offer payment processing to your clients?
  • Would your clients like to have payment processing handled by the same organization that already produces the bills?
  • Are there advantages to integrating this process?

The answer to all these questions is “yes”. Payment processing is a service needed by all your biller clients. Your small-company clients may not have an online payment processing option or the process your clients use may be completely disassociated from other business functions, including the bill presentment process you manage for them. Payment processing is an opportunity to expand your business relationships with your clients.

Good for Clients and Their Customers

Your clients’ customers are like everyone else. They want to pay their bills the most convenient way possible. They want the flexibility to use credit cards, debit cards, or ACH to transfer funds to the biller. When they are on the go, they want to pay bills using mobile devices. If consumers find bill paying a hassle, they may switch to another company that makes it easier.

Your clients want to offer online bill pay, not only because their customers are demanding it, but because it also eliminates manual work, reduces risk, and makes funds available sooner. With an online bill payment capacity, they can improve cash flow by automating processes to remind customers when payments are past due or to inform them immediately if a payment method fails.

Adding Value Without Adding Complexity

Connecting bill payment processing with bill production and distribution facilitates all these benefits for clients and their customers. Most importantly for print/mail service providers, bill payment creates a way to add value to the services you provide and opens a new revenue stream.

Understandably, print/mail service providers may be wary of the payment processing technology. They may be concerned about handling financial transactions. This keeps print/mail companies from entering the payment processing space, leaving their clients free to find a solution elsewhere.

Adding bill payment processing to your schedule of services doesn’t have to be a do-it-yourself project. You can include payment processing in your printing and mailing workflow without requiring custom in-house development. White label payment processing technology is available to allow you to add this capability to your organization with a minimum investment and low risk. In most cases, this software-as-a-service offering will be cloud-based. You won’t be required to buy and install servers or support software on site.

The same data you use to create the bills can drive the payment process. Let the service set up the payment gateway and handle all the details to allow a consumer to establish an account and make online payments to your clients. All you should need to do once the system is implemented is process your regular billing runs.

Research Your Clients

Some industries have yet to nail down a solid bill-payment automation solution. Small medical practices, for example, tend to rely on manual procedures to collect the patient responsibility portion of their fees. If your company processes bills for doctors and clinics, ask them if they are satisfied with the way they collect from patients.

I have received treatment from two such clinics who could benefit from an online payment solution. In one case, I paid by a check I mailed them. The check has not cleared the bank after three months. I assume it has been lost, but no one from the clinic has contacted me. With another clinic, I can only make payments by calling the office, leaving voice messages, and eventually making a credit card payment over the phone.

In both cases, the clinics would have received their money quickly if I had the option to pay online.

Payment processing may not feel like it’s part of the core business for a print/mail service provider, but it is a natural extension of the transactions you manage for your clients. And it addresses consumer trends and preferences for checkless payments. It’s worth investigating as an addition to the services you offer and may be welcomed by your clients.

Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants creates content that helps attract and retain customers for companies in the document industry and assists companies as they integrate new technology. Learn more about his services at www.pmccontentservices.com. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, or send him a connection request on LinkedIn.