People are always looking for the best way to easily take in and set up new clients automatically. Signup forms that run the new client's information through fraud screening programs, collect their initial payment and provision the account on the server without any human interaction are considered must haves these days. Everybody wants the process to be seamless and to require a bare minimum of staff intervention to get new clients up and running.
Of course there's nothing wrong with this. It should be everyone's goal to have money coming in the door with as little effort as possible. But, for every business I see with a bullet proof, completely hands off sign up process, I see a dozen who are devoting 10 times the amount of effort on keeping up on dead beat clients and shutting them down when they don't pay.
This seems backwards. Wouldn't you want to spend more time and effort on the clients who want to pay you for your services? Don't you want to focus on the ones who appreciate quick and efficient service, than the ones who don't respect your business enough to respond to your emails, let alone pay their bills on time? Any serious time spent on shutting down non-paying clients is just throwing more good money after bad. In simplest terms, it's time and money wasted.
That time and money would invariably be better spent on getting new clients up and running, and making sure they're happy with their service. Think about how much happier your clients would be if the effort spent on every overdue notice or phone call made chasing after a delinquent payment, were instead put into friendly welcome letters or calls to clients to offer assistance. I bet if you could do that, your overall client satisfaction would increase and they'd be more likely to pay their monthly bill. This, in turn, would cut down on the number of delinquent clients you have in the first place. Happy customers are paying customers.
The goal should be to reduce the amount of time spent dealing with the deadbeats. That's where the idea of automation comes in. If you have a way to setup clients automatically, you should have a way to shut them down automatically too.
We've approached this idea with a new feature in Ubersmith DE (which will be added to Ubersmith Pro soon). We've added the ability for Ubersmith to suspend and/or cancel services automatically, if they go a certain number of days past due. When the daily automated script runs, Ubersmith will check all services in outstanding invoices. If they are past their threshold, the system will suspend or cancel the services so that they are no longer billed.
The beauty of this is that with the Service Module framework that we've built into DE, Ubersmith can easily be configured to carry out any action when a service is suspended or canceled. Anything from simply emailing the client to let them know, to calling out to a third party system to turn their service down completely.
Our first example of this is our CPanel module. If a CPanel service is suspended, Ubersmith is now able to actually suspend the account right on the server. The best part is, once the client pays the invoice, Ubersmith will call out and un-suspend it all by itself. Total time spent by your staff: 0.
That's just one example of something we've got planned for service modules. It's going to make a lot of things a lot easier to accomplish and it will make running your business even easier.
Even if you aren't using Ubersmith, I hope you'll think about what I'm saying about automation and come up with ways to put the man power you've got into making your paying clients happier, instead of always having to waste time dealing with the ones that don't. Spend time getting money coming in the door, not on helping it go out.