For most accounts receivable professionals, being “productive” in their day-to-day means they had the chance to make a few calls and send a few emails. Usually this is as much as can be fit into one day for those in accounts receivable departments because so much time has to be spent on things like data entry, figuring out who to call, sifting through aging reports, and other non-value added tasks. They just can’t be as productive as they would like to be.
There is so much more that accounts receivable professionals can add to the business. These value-add tasks include things like calling a customer about an overdue invoice, settling a dispute or helping a customer with a payment plan.
Wouldn’t you rather be adding value towards your cash flow goals than just maintaining?
If you want to jump off that hamster wheel of data entry tasks, try using these four simple, yet effective tips to prioritize and organize your accounts receivable department.
Have A System of Record
Collectors spend far too much time gathering information from multiple sources when all of it could be (and really should be) available in one integrated system where the entire team can access it. Without one single system of record, you spend way too much valuable time jumping from one system to another in search of sales, customer, contact, credit, shipping, and other information related to an invoice.
Instead of spending hours searching for information on disparate systems, use on system of record. For the accounts receivable department, this could be an accounts receivable automation system or customer engagement platform for AR. Everything about the customer, their invoices, what’s owed, previous interactions and more will be stored in one easily accessible place – allowing your collectors to spend more time on value-added tasks.
Prioritize Your Accounts
Most accounts receivable departments have trouble accounts – you know, those accounts that never pay on time, have a long list of broken promises or have large dollar amounts outstanding. It’s important to prioritize these accounts over others since they need a little extra care to ensure you will get paid on time. The best way to look at this is by putting your customers into buckets, based on their likelihood of paying. Reaching out to the ones most likely to stiff you on payment can help you recover the most.
This might sound too simple, and sometimes it can be. That’s why it’s important to utilize some type of automation in your customer outreach cadence. Even though you can’t call every single account, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be emailing those that are usually okay left on their own. Utilizing an automation tool will allow you to touch the non “trouble” accounts without actually lifting a finger.
Make Your Touches Count
Sometimes customers get busy and they just don’t have time to answer the phone, but they will immediately respond to you over email. Maybe your customer is out of town at a conference and has limited access to their email or phone calls, but was able to make a payment via a link over text. All of these different elements to the collections process are called multi-channel touches. Every touch with the customer matters and reaching out via multiple platforms helps to ensure every interaction matters. If you’re only using one platform, such as email, to try to collect, you have a good chance of completely missing your customer and completely missing out on payment.
Here are a few other things to consider:
- Do you have a secondary contact in case your main contact is out of the office or leaves?
- An accounts receivable management system will allow you to store notes, such as what the best method of contact is, and you and anyone else in your department can view them.
- Develop collection letter templates, email templates, and call scripts (or use ours) to make sure you’re delivering the right message at the time for optimal impact and faster collection
Spend More Time On What Counts
If you can eliminate some of that clerical work and focus your time and energy on delinquent accounts, settling disputes, and learning how you can avoid them in the future, those 8 hours you spend at the office every day are going to be much more productive and the metrics will show it! Once you’re able to eliminate tasks like data entry and searching email inboxes for information, you can spend time on what really counts like adding value to the company.
Schedule a demo with Lockstep, customer engagement platform for AR.
*This is a guest post from our partner, Anytime Collect. Anytime Collect is the market-leading cloud credit and collections platform trusted by over 2 million companies to process 1.2 million transactions monthly. Made specifically for businesses selling on credit terms, Anytime Collect automates invoice dispute management, cash forecasting, customer communications, invoice presentment, online bill pay and credit management. The entire collections process becomes quicker and easier.