Getting Cash Faster

Can you speed up your cash flow? A few days ago at home we received an e-mail notice with the subject line “AT&T Pay Bill Reminder,” stating that as of a specific date our account had a balance of $87.34. First impression was that we were late in paying-overdue, in fact. But our records showed we had paid on time, though after the specified date on the e-mail. What was going on?

Well, since AT&T also noted that our payment wasn’t due until five days after the e-mail, it dawned on me that this was not a past due notice as it first appeared.  It was a “pre-due” notice.  In addition to helping customers stay current, AT&T was speeding up payments to get cash in sooner. Nothing wrong with that; the message did not deceive and was a communication that provided value to some customers.  Although the copy did offer relief if in fact we were past due, the message about our account simply listed the facts.

Is such marketing worth it to this large corporation? Depends, of course, but before e-mail the limited or even negative ROI on small accounts would have made this approach impossible.  The real question for your business: Can something like this speed up cash flow cost effectively?

Think about:

  • Annoyance.My defenses went up right away, and then I had to check our account records. Am I switching providers? Not in this case.
  • Frequency. If “pre-due” alerts came monthly, the annoyance might build, especially if coupled with other issues, so that switching became an option.
  • Need. Do you actually have a cash-flow problem? Always good to get cash faster but is the “all-in” ROI with this tactic really there for your business?

At some point such a message might well remind me to pay a bill or two. But for now it’s become a useful reminder to keep thinking of new ways to improve my business cash flow. How about you?

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