InvoiceI was having a nice chat recently with a lady from FreshBooks. If you haven’t heard of them, they have a nice system for creating and sending invoices.

We got to talking about invoicing disasters, because it seems EVERYBODY has a story.  Including me.

Just last month, in fact.

I do my client billing monthly, and with a small number of clients it’s entirely manageable.  But I have a couple who are still in the stage of mailing out a PDF of a spreadsheet that I maintain by hand.  Looks OK, and with just a few additions to that spreadsheet every month, not particularly hard work.

But I billed the client’s credit card for the amount due, then immediately sent out the receipt from the spreadsheet.  Unfortunately, in my haste I forgot to add the transaction I’d just performed, so it said that an amount was due.

Not a big deal, just a simple and honest mistake.  But it sure exposed my weakness in having multiple tracking systems for different clients, and different methods of billing.  It sure didn’t look professional, and I’m a business coach!  I’m not supposed to slip up on the details!

Another example:  For several years I would have to call my wife’s dentist office whenever she had a checkup.  Their bills showed the recent charge as 60 days past due, and the poor clerk in the office always had to explain to me that it was some kind of strange “computer error” that they had no way to fix.

That’s wasted time, and it’s customer dissatisfaction.  Not enough of a deal for us to leave that practice, but you could see how others might be considerably more frustrated.  Especially if they double-pay a bill and then you have to send a refund AND an apology.  Hey, if I can’t trust you to charge me properly, why should I trust you to fix my teeth?

The lesson here?  Details like invoices and payments matter A WHOLE LOT MORE than they logically should, because you’re messing with peoples’ money.  Money generally equals anxiety and stress.

What’s YOUR horror story?

FreshBooks is offering a 30 day free trial of their product.  I’m not a customer myself but have heard good things from people who are.