Efficiency is a key source of competitive advantage in installation service! Many field service businesses make the mistake of remaining fixated on operational efficiency. They neglect other aspects, such as invoicing. A robust and real-time invoicing system is essential to ensure end-to-end efficiency. An efficient invoicing system improves cash flow and boosts customer satisfaction. It creates an upward spiral of positivity and profits.

Read more: Four Ways to Generate a Professional Invoice and Get Paid Faster

Common Challenges with Invoicing

1. The challenge of accessing information

The biggest invoicing challenge faced by installation service providers is accessing information.

Different databases hold the information needed for invoicing. The system collects work hours from the technician’s smartphone app, the rates and discounts quoted from the work order, and the spares consumed from the inventory database. Collating such information is time-consuming. Often, information lies hidden in silos. Re-keying or manual copy-pasting information from databases to the invoice is error-prone. 

2. The challenge of time

Another big invoicing challenge is time.

Many field service companies entrust field agents to prepare manual invoices and collect payment. This is time-consuming and delays the technician from serving the next customer. Expert technicians waste time on such unproductive tasks. They could spend their time better by installing the next equipment and reducing the wait time for customers. 

Some enterprises prepare invoices at the back office and email the customer. But delayed invoices are more error-prone. Communication gaps often cause missing out on key items. Also, when the invoice is not instant, the customer may not recollect the work and keep it aside for later. 

3. Error-prone nature of manual systems

In a manual system, oversight may lead to not billing some work orders. It may be even months before an audit unearths a missing invoice or some significant work missing from the dispatched invoice. Sending a delayed or revised invoice is unprofessional. There is also a chance the customer might have moved on, and the bill never gets paid. Such gaps in invoices create serious cash flow issues for the service provider.

Mistakes in invoices, such as duplicate billing, raise red flags for customers. Many customers may even rethink doing business with the company. The customer support team gets overburdened, answering queries and assuring customers. Very few customers condone mistakes, even if made inadvertently. Apologies may aggravate the situation by highlighting the issue once again in the customer’s mind. 

4. Follow-up challenges

Even after the service provider generates an invoice, tracking the invoices is another big challenge. The business executive often relies on memory, intuition, and guesswork to decipher the status of an invoice. Delays in status updates create blind spots for customer support agents. Often, a lack of integrated views makes it difficult to confirm an invoice for a particular work order.

Customer support teams often face embarrassing situations. For example, they call a customer for payment reminders when they might have already paid the technician.

A related challenge is process errors. The business generates the invoices perfectly but cannot deliver them on time. 

5. The challenge of customers delaying payment

Even when installation providers generate the invoice on time, many customers delay payment. The root cause of such delays is confusing or incomplete invoices. When customers see a confusing invoice or necessary details missing, they keep it aside and delay payment.

A complete invoice containing the following details prompts customers to pay on time.

  • Itemized list of the installation work done. Ensure consistent terminology and style.
  • The date and time of the work and the date of invoice issuance.
  •  Type of payments accepted and mode of payment. 
  •  Due date of payment, mentioned prominently. The phrases “Due X days from receipt,” “first working day,” or “end of the month” are vague and create confusion. Rather, give a specific date or use the phrase “Due X days from invoice issue date.”
  •  Any discounts applied.
  •  Late penalty details, if applicable.

Also, use simple language that a layperson understands. Avoid technical terms and jargon. For the description of the line items, use the same terminology mentioned in the job quote to pre-empt confusion. 

Read more: Three Key Considerations Towards An Effective Customer Service Strategy

How ReachOut Suite helps!

ReachOut field service suite automates and speeds up invoicing. The automated system pulls data from different sources, ties it together, and generates invoices. In addition, the automatic process makes approvals instant, further speeding up the process.

The suite centralizes information and enables standardized billing.

The integrated field service suite

  • Streamlines information. ReachOut centralizes information and enables standardized invoicing. The suite collects data from the quote and work order and reproduces the details. If the work order is part of an annual contract, the invoice charges only for the spares or line items not covered by the annual contract.
  • Ensures seamless integration with other databases. ReachOut offers seamless integrations and robust connections to external databases. Integration with the CRM ensures fidelity to any discount or special rates promised to the customer. Likewise, if the CRM shows the annual contract asset set to expire, the field agent may generate an invoice for the contract renewal.
  • Enable Instant processing. ReachOut ensures timely delivery of the invoice to the customer, with timely alerts at each stage. The invoice generates soon after the field agent logs in work completion through his smartphone app or browser. The system emails the invoice to the customer and links the work order with the invoices.
  • Integrates with payment collection apps. Integration with payment collection applications allows technicians to collect the payment immediately. The installation service provider may accept payment options, including checks, cards, and e-payments.
  • Updates accounts and payroll. ReachOut’s invoice generating system emails the invoice to the customer. The suit also instantly transmits it to the accounts and payroll suite, automating these two critical functions. ReachOut’s basic plan integrates with QuickBooks Online and Xero accounting platforms. The enterprise plan offers custom integration options to any external accounting software.
  • Offers real-time views. A streamlined system tracks the invoice generation and payment process. Integrated dashboards provide customer support executives with the real-time status of invoices. Following up delayed payments becomes easy. 
  • Ensures process integrity. Robust servers and databases safeguard the integrity of the process and safety.

Manual invoicing drains the enterprise financially. A 2020 study by the Institute of Finance and Management estimates the cost of generating manual invoices at $6.10 for up to 100,000 invoices a year, on average. The amount increases if the number of invoices is less. Errors in invoices increase expenses and short-circuit growth. Automated digital invoicing ensures fast turnaround times, reduced costs, and improved cash flow. Even customers appreciate quick and accurate invoices.

Contact our experts for a detailed walkthrough of the Reachout suite.

Digitize your field service operations from scheduling to invoicing with ReachOut. Connect your technicians with the companion mobile app to execute jobs and reduce paperwork in the field. Try ReachOut now and give your customers the fast and quality service they deserve.

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Sachin Krishna

Sachin works as a part of the digital marketing team at ReachOut Suite. He believes in a healthy and resourceful web and does his own little contributions for the purpose by creating and disseminating innovative and quality content.

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