Every AR team has a challenge with collections: when you offer your customers credit, collections becomes an inevitable part of the credit-to-cash process. It’s also the most time-consuming part of the process, and yet 25% of businesses are understaffed to handle the volume (Credit Today).
A smart, automated AR system can streamline and automate many of the manual, repetitive collections activities that need to take place and reduce the burden on your team. In addition, there are other strategic factors to consider that will influence your customers and get them to pay you on time, and sometimes, even pay you more.
It starts with the first interaction with your business, and continues throughout the entire relationship you have with your customers. In today’s high tech, high touch and always-connected world, the B2B experience is under pressure to mirror the B2C experience. And B2B buyers reflect this in their purchasing and payment behaviors.
How do I get paid faster?
Here are seven ways to ensure your customers are happy and motivated to pay you on time:
- Provide a consistent customer experience. Over 70% of B2B buyers stated this was a critical component in their vendor relationships. Having a consistent brand experience, regardless of which channel they interacted with, provided a sense of stability and security that fostered goodwill and a desire to continue to interact with the business.
- Personalize customer interactions. With the data at our fingertips today, thanks to payment software, ERPs and CRMs, there is no reason a customer should feel like a number when engaging with their vendors. 59% of B2B buyers state that personalization is more important than the speed of the process (at 51%). Personalized interactions also result in up to 15% higher sales, according to McKinsey.
- Ensure you’re giving consistent answers to questions. Customers are frustrated when they call in and find different team members give them varying information. 76% of B2B buyers stated they find this to be a consistent issue with vendors. Making sure your teams are armed with the most up-to-date information, and it’s available in a single, centralized location, will minimize this confusion. In addition, having the same consistent information available to customers via your website or web portal will reduce calls into your team for repetitive questions and low-value tasks.
- Offer an online portal. Over 50% of B2B buyers prefer to do their business on their time - not limited to their vendors’ business hours. An online portal provides a central location for information, communications, and invoicing and payments. A payment portal has the added benefit of reducing the stress on your team for simple tasks such as accessing a copy of an invoice or checking the amount of the most recent payment.
- Send regular reminders and communications. Your customers want to be invoiced on time, which shows them you have your own business organized and are well set to take care of them. In addition, they do not object to regular reminders when a bill is due. This eliminates the late payments that are due to the customer not receiving or processing the invoice the first time you sent it. Professional, friendly and personalized communications to the customer increase the odds that they will give your invoice its due attention.
- Consider flexible payment options. The ability to have a variety of payment methods available to your customers increases their odds of paying you on time. 74% of B2b buyers state they will take their business to a competitor who has more or better payment terms - that’s a high number of customers willing to make an inconvenient vendor switch for a more convenient payment alternative.
- Create a smooth and frictionless payment experience. Whatever your payment options are, develop a workflow that makes it easy and intuitive for your customer to understand the options and move ahead with their payment. 60% of B2B buyers abandon the payment process online when the process becomes too lengthy and too cumbersome to navigate. This creates unnecessary delays in payment and leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth of the customer.
The right AR platform will provide the tools you need to put many of these strategies in place. By pulling together customer data from disparate systems, you can ensure each customer enjoys a personalized experience while providing them with a consistent and positive brand interaction. A smart AR system will have the flexibility to offer different payment terms and options, and provide a user-friendly customer portal that delights rather than confuses your customers.
When you consider that 68% of B2B buyers said they would pay higher prices - in some cases up to 20% more - for a consistent, positive customer experience, well, that’s a healthy bit of cash to be leaving on the table, don’t you think?
1 All statistics are from a MSTS Survey 2019, unless otherwise noted