There are three simple ways to maintain financial health, while also keeping customers happy.
It’s no secret that cash is king.
Positive cash flow is vital to your business. You can have strong revenue, manageable expenses, and impressive income. However, if financial operations are not structured efficiently and cash flow doesn’t stay healthy, problems will appear - fast.
This means that the people you collect your cash from (i.e. your customers) need to be a top priority. A 2020 Walker study found that personalization, ease, and speed are the three constant expectations for B2B customers, while a PWC report discovered that one in three consumers (32%) will walk away from a company they love after just one bad experience.
The challenge is that organizations do not know how to respond to these findings in the context of their back office. There are tried and tested methods to improve customer service across marketing and sales, but there is less of an understanding as to how financial operations can be modified to cater to the customer. In accounts receivable, antiquated systems, established processes, and age-old ways of working result in companies not knowing where to begin. An internal analysis and audit of their operations is an onerous task and so they end up focusing on what they’ve always focused on – collecting cash as quickly as possible.
But now, more than ever, AR is not only about financial operations and cash collection. It is at the coalface of customer relationship management. Managing credit-based relationships is even more important during an economic crisis and organizations need to be able to look beyond their immediate cash flow. There’s no denying that investing in an AR solution will impact cash flow temporarily, but this initial outlay can pay for itself many times over if you choose a tool that fundamentally improves your collections and customer relationships.
So, let’s add a little extra wisdom to the mantra before we kick off.
Cash is king. And so are the methods you use to collect it.
What are some of the major challenges that affect AR performance?
- Disparate data: The AR process involves multiple teams spanning sales, operations, customer support, and even the legal function. These teams use different systems and have no simple way to centralize their data and collaborate effectively. This causes a lack of visibility into each other’s activities which often makes it unclear when and what was the last customer touchpoint. This leads to miscommunication and frustration between departments which causes a knock-on effect to the customer experience. When the customer receives inconsistent information, this can damage their trust and result in customer churn which impacts cash flow.
- Inefficient invoicing: Invoicing can become an unmanageable process when your customer base expands. One of our customers used to spend 20% of their week contacting customers for payments and they had no tool to keep track of their communications. This process becomes even more time-consuming when invoices go missing and your AR team is forced to search for the most recent versions. On top of this, time is spent fielding customer requests, such as responding on the balance of a specific invoice or providing a duplicate of an invoice. All this wasted time translates to a less efficient collections process, which frustrates your customers and increases the likelihood of cash flow challenges.
- Payment disputes: Managing disputes takes up about 30% of the entire credit-to-cash process. Prioritizing disputes is a continual challenge, as all require resolution, but some customers risk defaulting on payments if they aren’t dealt with immediately. A secondary challenge is classifying disputes to determine the actual risk to the revenue involved, as well as the amount of time required to reach resolution. Both these challenges affect AR teams daily, making it difficult to determine where time and resources are needed most. Making the wrong decision can result in delinquent invoices, dissatisfied customers, and lost payments.
A smart AR platform helps you overcome these challenges, optimizing your cash flow and customer experience in three ways
- By centralizing data for your teams and customers: A smart AR platform pulls data from your ERP and CRM, puts it on a centralized platform, and communicates it to your teams and customers in an intuitive and consolidated way. By putting everyone on the same page, each person better understands their role and respective tasks and can work effectively with one another. This improves collections, boosts cash flow, and provides your customers with a consistent experience that deepens their trust in your organization.
- By simplifying invoicing for you and your customers: Imagine if you could provide a cloud-based, self-service portal for your customers. One that enables them to access all their past and due invoices, see their payment history, and submit requests. Imagine if it also enabled them to settle their debts with flexible payment options via wire, ACH, or credit card. These capabilities would increase the speed at which your invoices are paid, as well as your customer satisfaction levels. Your team would be able to reclaim hours of their time and focus on priority tasks, rather than hunting for invoices, sending payment requests, and fielding simple customer questions.
- By providing a robust process for handling disputes: A smart AR platform provides automated flows for registering disputes and complaints, allowing customers to express their concern instantly and then sharing immediate feedback on what to expect next. In addition to this, predictive communications provide your AR team with the ability to identify the communications that should be prioritized based on dispute severity and length of time to resolve. This ensures quick, efficient handling of a situation before it escalates.
The importance of having a tool that enables this is immense. With the best will in the world, your organization will be challenged by dissatisfied customers. How you respond to them will not only determine whether they settle that single bill. It will have an impact on whether they choose to remain a customer. And all these outcomes will help or hinder cash flow.
YayPay is a smart AR platform that helps you proactively optimize your payment strategies, making them work best for you and your customers. Centralized data, workflow automation, and the many payment module features that YayPay offers help provide your team and your customers with a more effective AR experience. This not only improves on-time payments and cash flow as a result. It transforms your AR process into a positive customer experience. This means that you can collect the cash you need today and create an experience that ensures your customers continue spending tomorrow.