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Get your customers to pay in advance

Imagine you are going to the theatre. You have your tickets, but you haven’t paid for them. Instead, the theatre asks you to pay on your way out. At that point you start thinking, was “that” really worth £35? In other words, you focus on the negatives, not the good points. It is the same in restaurants. You have a lovely evening, good with good friends. Then, along comes the bill and it all seems a bit negative. Indeed, you get people checking the bill – “did we really have three bottles of water?”, or “I thought they would include the bread in the price, not charge extra”. A lovely evening is spoiled by the bill.

Many online businesses – especially those in the service sector – let their customers pay at the end. That inevitably means people focus on the price and what they have already received for the price. In turn, all that does is provide them with negative thoughts and reasons why your price is too high.

Do it the other way round, getting people to pay up-front means that when they come to the end all they can focus on is how well everything went. The bill, the invoice and the price are just old memories.

But how do you get people to pay “up front”? One way of doing this is to run a service as a “membership” system. You might only prove them with a service once or twice a year, but if they are members of your “club”, which they pay for in advance, they get more than just your services, they get some “added extras” such as useful downloads and so on. What that means is, they have paid you in advance. When you come to providing your actual service later in the year they have no bills to pay and they have a much more positive experience.

You can tap into that by getting them to contribute to social media. They’ll say nice positive, glowing things about you. But if you had just presented them with the bill, they are less likely to be so positive in their praise. As a result, getting clients to pay in advance helps enhance your reputation.

Far from working against you, getting customers to pay in advance can have substantially positive impacts on your business – apart from the obvious improvement in cash flow.


Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who helps businesses understand how their customers use the web so that they can provide webites that truly and deeply engage people. He is the author of “Click.ology: What Works in Online Shopping”. See grahamjones.co.uk and http://click.ology.biz.

Graham Jones Internet Pschologist

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