5 Ways to Increase Client Payments

Collecting payments can be difficult and time consuming but these tips will make it much easier!

Increase Client Payments without Damaging Their Trust

Price should not be a barrier to access mental health and substance recovery services but unfortunately, it often is. You and your clients both hope that insurance will cover it but the reality is that every agency must collect payments from clients at some point. Collecting these payments can be difficult and time consuming. Yet, you have to otherwise your agency won’t stay in business long enough to continue to care for people.

Further complicating matters, you need to make sure that you’re building long-term, trusting relationships with these clients and hounding them for money can make that seem impossible. While agencies should not shy away from collecting payments from their clients, they must do so in a timely and respectful manner to build a long-lasting and mutually respectful relationship. Luckily, there are things you can do to make this collection process more efficient for you and easier for your clients without damaging their trust in you.

5 Steps to Increase Client Payments

#1

Provide accurate and timely cost estimates.

The best thing you can do to increase client payments is to give them as much information upfront as possible. Preferably, tell them what a service or session will cost them before seeing them. If they can’t afford it, you’ve just saved both of you time and headaches. It also gives you the opportunity to talk with them about ways to make your services affordable or refer them elsewhere to ensure they’re still getting the care they need.

Look at your various systems and processes you have in place to see how you currently inform your clients about bill. If necessary, invest in an estimation tool if you provide services that vary in cost. This can also help you factor in what insurance will (or won’t) cover. If your clients have questions about their bill give them an opportunity to talk with you and ask those questions. This builds trust and will help you both get what you need.

Pro Tip:

Talk with your clients about how much your service will cost before providing it.

#2

Invest in an online, responsive client portal.

Going digital will help you in many ways. First, an easy-to-use, online portal will make it easier to collect payments on a timeline that works for your clients. It will also help your agency look like you’re “with the times” and foster trust.

Best of all, digital options can offer you ways to segment your clients into “likely to pay” and “unlikely to pay” so you can have more insight into who’s most likely to pay you and help you make more informed business decisions.

Pro Tip:

Go digital. It makes payment collections faster and easier.

#3

Think about the customer experience to provide a great service.

Counselors are in the service industry. And just like when choosing a restaurant, people want to research where they’re going before they get there. If clients know they have to pay for something, especially out of their own pocket, they expect good service. This extends beyond being helped. They expect to feel comfortable with you from the first time they do an online search about you to their last payment.

According to a 2018 survey from Doctor.com, 80% of clients look online before making a healthcare decision and 60% of people won’t book an appointment if they aren’t impressed by the website or reviews. Reviews are especially important as 90% of people who read them “frequently change their mind if the provider has poor or weak reviews.” 

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to build a great digital presence. A simple website that outlines who you are, what services you provide, and how to contact you is a wonderful start. Collecting feedback from satisfied clients that you can feature on your website are a great way to promote vetted testimonials and convince potential clients to give you a try.

Pro Tip:

Invest in your online presence.

#4

Don’t forget about consistent and clear communications.

How do prospective and clients contact you? The more difficult it is to reach you, especially when they have questions about their payments, the more difficult it will be for you to collect from them. At minimum, you should have a phone number and an email address that they can reach out to with financial questions. It doesn’t need to be a direct line or a personal email address. For example, usually your email provider can set you up with a general address like “info@ouragency.com” or “accountspayable@ouragency.com.” Use a differentiated way to reach you for payments to help you better organize your payment-related communications as well as making it easier for your clients to get in touch.

Consider when they’re reaching out to you as well. Do you have a way for them to get in touch with someone after weekday hours? Do you have a client portal that keeps track of client communications for you? The easier you make it for your clients to find the information they need and take action on it, the less work you have to do and the faster you’ll get paid.

Most people need a few reminders. Set up a system that automatically sends email reminders to them if they’re past due. Double up with a letter or two and you’ll have a solid way to keep in touch with your clients about their payments without you having to invest more resources than necessary.

Pro Tip:

Give your clients multiple ways to contact you (phone, email, and online portal) and follow up with kind, yet firm, reminders.

#5

Give clients different ways to pay you.

People have different ways they’re comfortable making payments. Some only carry cash while others prefer checks. Credit and debit cards are convenient but you shouldn’t assume that everyone has access to them. 

You also want to be able to offer different locations for people to pay you. Make sure that you have an in-person option to collect payments while you have them in front of you. When they’re not in your office, online is the next best thing. People are used to paying online bills and behavioral health services don’t need to be the exception. Just ensure you tell them about this option.

For large bills and clients who may struggle paying it all in one lump sum, consider payment plans. These can spread payments out over a period of time to help make it more affordable for your client without you losing revenue. Find a balance between low-cost installments and an amount that still helps you maintain your necessary cash flow to help build a mutually beneficial financial relationship with your client.

Pro Tip:

Make it as easy as possible for your clients to pay you by offering a variety of payment options like checks, credit cards, and through online portals.

The Bottom Line

Help your agency stay financially healthy by examining your current operations and adjusting them to make it easier for your clients to pay you. Don’t put anything into place that will cost you more than it will help you make. Consider the customer experience at every step. Is it making it easier for your clients? Is it adding undue stress on their shoulders? But never forget that you’re a business and at the end of the day, you have to stay profitable. Following these steps will help you do so and continue helping people get healthy.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to reduce the time (and stress) you spend billing, BillCare can help. We specialize in making it easier for you to recoup your revenue and spend more time with your clients. 

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