It’s just an invoice.

By Joe Truncale
In November 23, 2010

Continuing our review of 17 years worth of survey data from thousands of print customers of hundreds of printing companies, we come to the issue of invoices.  Stay with me here.

No, this is not yet another reminder to get invoices out faster (although customers would like that).  Rather it is about the invoice itself.

In working with printing and graphic communications companies that have used the eKG Competitive Edge Profile™ to gather input from their customers, looking at the format and content of their customer invoices has been a revealing and constructive exercise. 

One of the standard questions we ask of print customers has to do with whether they receive “clear and helpful invoices” from their print services provider.  Why would we ask a question like this when surveying print customers?  Well, as it turns out, clear and helpful invoices are very important to print customers, and why not?

As custom manufacturers, we often adapt to the unique requests of the customer on the fly.  Having the invoice accurately present and explain what was provided creates an important communication between you and your customer (and it helps you get paid more quickly).

Here’s a question for you.  When is the last time you looked at one of your customer invoices?  Are all of the services you provided accurately spelled out?  Is the purchase order number easy to identify?  Are there any abbreviations or acronyms that could be confusing to your customer? 

Is the person approving the invoice the same as the one who placed the order with you?  Sometimes that is not the case, and it becomes even more important that the details of services provided are spelled out clearly.

Do the words “thank you” appear somewhere (anywhere?).

Your invoice is one of the most important communications you have with your customers.  In an industry which, on average, gets paid in about 55 days after the product has shipped, it may be time to take a closer look at your invoices.  Get members of your team to participate.  Maybe get feedback from your customers as well. You may identify ways to make this communication more effective for your customers and for you.  

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