I'm working in the enterprise SaaS equivalent of gym memberships. The client knows they should use it because it's good for them (earns them $$$), and once they get into the swing of it, they enjoy it. But, despite my best efforts at UX, the subject matter is inherently dry for creatives, and if they get distracted or in a rut, they're prone to stop "going to the gym". As the "personal trainer" I have to remain vigilant at keeping everyone happy and motivated or I lose clients ... hence the interpersonal relationship skills.

Some clients don't pay their bills on time, and the system automatically cuts access to the profitable parts (along with a courtesy email to their accounting department and account manager). Once a month or so a user emails me and says (paraphrasing the tone) "I can't get access to my data because the account's overdue. I'm trying to get work done and this makes it difficult. Can you restore access please?"

(For context, at the moment I'm replying something like "Sorry, it cuts you off automatically when the account is overdue. I've restored access. [Name of acct manager in copy], has the invoice been processed? By which date can we expect payment?")

Can anyone give me an explanation of the attitude of these users, and offer a strategy of what I could say or how I could behave to:

  1. Increase the probability of being paid on time, while concurrently;
  2. making these users happier through those actions (i.e. avoiding "coercing" compliance with payment terms through punishments. I can think of plenty of coercive things I could do, but they would decrease user happiness).

The clients in question are generally from Latin European countries.

  • I understand the negative connotation, but I think the descriptor is factual rather than abusive. The client expects to receive service without fulfilled their contractual obligations, which I believe falls under the definition of "entitled"? – Escher Sep 25 '17 at 10:40
  • A short attempt at the attitude; wild guess because I don't know what your platform does: They have several things to keep track off while working. For a while, they don't need your service, and it becomes unnecessary overhead. So, they stop using it for a period. Then they have more time again, less things to keep track off, or a new tasks where your platform is helpful again. They try to access it... and their functionality is gone! And they have to wait until payments have been processed, but they could need it NOW! So, yes, they will be disgruntled. – Layna Sep 25 '17 at 10:46
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    Why are you still doing direct bill, especially for a SaaS platform? Set up autobilling as the default. – JohnP Sep 25 '17 at 21:07

Positive Reinforcement

Their goal = staying fit, healthy, happy.

Your goal = Their goal + getting paid on time/loose the hassle.

Set specific workout/fitness/on-time payment goals, increase prices, offer discounts when workout/fitness/on-time payment goals are met. If all goals - including the on-time payment goal - are met, discounts ensure the price is exactly what it used to be before you increased the prices.

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    I think the "discount" for developing a history of on-time payments is a very good idea. That's a good positive way to frame it. – Escher Sep 25 '17 at 10:42

Some clients don't pay their bills on time, and the system automatically cuts access to the profitable parts (along with a courtesy email to their accounting department and account manager).

How is this email worded? Do the clients/users receive it, or only the accounting department?

Has the user been warned that they will be cut off from the service?

A simple solution would be: when payment is overdue, send a friendly reminder first, both to accounting and to the actual user. Then, wait two weeks, send another reminder, and only cut off service after say, a few days later.

This should leave them enough time to either pay themselves or remember accounting to do it. This also makes sure they won't have an unpleasant surprise when their service is cut, since they've been warned...

The reaction you don't want is "Damn, this thing doesn't work!" but the reaction you want is "Damn, we forgot to pay!"

The error page should also mention something like:

"Please make sure your spam filter is set to accept the two warning emails we sent you in the previous weeks, in order to avoid further inconvenience."

  • The email is generally addressed to the account manager, and the client's accounting department. The users are informed on the "404" page that the reason they were cut off is because their company forgot to pay ... sadly, that doesn't seem to provoke the "damn, we forgot to pay" reaction. – Escher Sep 25 '17 at 13:22
  • Well, that would be an unpleasant surprise for them, since they were not warned by email, and most likely they do not know that the bill wasn't paid. You'd really want to avoid that, as they will blame your website! – bobflux Sep 25 '17 at 13:36
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    It's like punishing them without warning for a mistake that they didn't do. They'll be pissed ;) – bobflux Sep 25 '17 at 13:39

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