As the person responsible for collecting invoices for your organization you know what you want- to get paid faster by all your customers. But what about your customers- what do they want from you? If you can identify what they want and then give it to them, they are much more likely to pay on time and improve your accounts receivable performance. So, what are customer’s looking for in an invoicing process?
More than 70% of customers, especially small and medium sized business customers, prefer self-service options like an online portal compared to phone or email support. With an online portal, customers would be able to retrieve invoices, pay bills, ask questions, view statements, chat with support reps, and more. The thing is, 63% of companies do not provide customers with online bill payment and 75% do not provide an online self-service portal like the one described above.
What does this mean for you? It means you stand to seriously increase credit and collections success if you give your customers these tools and you can even increase your competitive advantage. If a customer is trying to choose between you and a competitor, the ease of access and online tools could be the added value in the invoicing process they are looking for.
FLEXIBLE PAYMENT ARRANGEMENTS
Many of your customers likely ask for flexible payment options or installment plans either at the out-set of their purchase or as a result of poor cash flow. 64% of companies do work out such payment plans with their customers as it helps them win more business, maintain customers, and collect payment; but that can complicate the credit and collections process too.
When you have to track special payment terms, it makes an already tough job even tougher, especially when conversations about it go undocumented or wind up written in the margins of spreadsheets or aging reports. A credit and collections automation solution can help you define payment plans and keep all of the related information and communication in a centralized location with alerts for individual installment payment deadlines.
Among the biggest challenged listed by companies who are struggling to get paid, a large portion of them reported that they have a hard time due to inaccurate invoices. When a customer gets an inaccurate invoice, of course they will dispute it and refuse to pay it until everything it sorted out. Why are so many invoices inaccurate? It could be because collectors are manually keying in data into multiple systems or because collectors are working off old data stored in a spreadsheet on their computer when updates should have been made after a customer’s partial payment, etc.
In the end your customers want an invoicing process that is fast and easy, if you give them that then you’re bound to see a change in your credit and collections performance- but it’s not easy. Most companies want to give customers a painless payment process, but when you rely on excel, outlook calendar reminders, and other outdated technology to manage accounts receivable information, you put up a lot of payment barriers that result in unhappy customers and poor collections performance.
Businesses who utilize credit and collections management tools that work alongside their ERP system can eliminate all of the complexity for customers and for themselves with benefits such as reduced DSO, efficiency gains, and better customer relationships to name a few. While adoption of these technologies is slow, many business credit managers and collections professionals plan to implement it in the near future as the need for such system and the benefits are becoming more apparent.