After you have set up your at-home workspace, created your daily processes and established lines of communication for your accounts receivable team, it’s time to turn your attention to your customers. If your customers have also turned to a remote work model, there will be several challenges you will have to help them overcome in the transition. Until they work out their new processes and have settled into a routine, you will likely run into delayed payments. However, there are multiple proactive approaches you can take to mitigate the risk of late payments from customers who have moved to working from home.
How to Overcome Customer Challenges from Remote Accounts Receivables
Once a customer has moved to a remote work style, you might find that their phones are not forwarding to their home location or they can’t easily access a required signature for payment approval. We’ve pulled together tips from our customers and employees who have been working from home for years to help you navigate these new hurdles to getting paid.
A long-standing tip for getting paid quickly is to be kind to your customers. Your customer remembers who was friendly and is more likely to pay first those that they have a good relationship with. Be empathetic with your customers as they navigate this new method of working and give them grace while they settle in. Take the time to check in with your customer without asking for payment. Call them or send them an email just asking how they are doing and whether they are feeling comfortable in their new settings. This simple way of reaching out to customers will go a very long way in ensuring you get payment when it’s due.
Anticipate Potential Issues
Being proactive and anticipating issues your customers might be dealing with greatly reduces your chance of delayed payments. As your customer moves to a work from home environment, they may have issues accessing and finding the supporting documents they need for payment, such as purchase orders or contracts. Ensure that, without the customer having to ask, you’re attaching these necessary documents to every invoice you send out. You can make these available online for customers using a cloud-based accounts receivable tool, like Lockstep Collect. Customers can self-serve their access to critical documents.
Another common issue you can proactively anticipate is customers having difficulties gaining the required approval and signatures from their team to make payment. Send contracts, invoices and links for online payment to include supervisors of the payables team. Take the time to identify prior approval processes for customers and include those individuals on emails.
Expand Contact Methods
Consider that your customers might be facing issues having phone calls reach them at home or are struggling with email connectivity. Phone call and email are not your only tools in the accounts receivable department to get a hold of customers. Try tools like LinkedIn. Reach out and send a message to your typical contacts first. If those continue to go unanswered, start moving up the chain on LinkedIn until you get a response.
Even though you may have mastered your remote work processes, you customer may still be settling into their new routine. It’s critical that you make it as easy as possible for them to make a payment. By remaining empathetic, reducing barriers to payment by offering document self-service and expanding your contact methods, you will be armed with the tools you need to overcome issues that may arise from your customers moving to remote work.