Email has become one of the most prominent forms of communications between businesses. It’s instant and allows for work to get done much more quickly. Despite this being our number one form of communication, for some reason accounts receivable departments aren’t using email addresses to send customers invoices or payment reminders. They still only have a physical address for their contacts, meaning they have to send these invoices through the mail or via fax. This makes the customer wait longer to receive the invoice or reminder, which means you have to wait longer for payment.
In this whitepaper, we cover why sending invoices, payment reminders, collection letters and other important documents via email is more effective, how you can push your customers to start using email for accounts receivable, the ROI of using automated email for accounts receivable and a template letter to send to your customers when you’re ready to make the switch to strictly email communications for letter sending.
THE ROI OF AUTOMATED EMAIL FOR ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE
Using automated email for accounts receivable can make a world of difference in your collections process. Emails get to the customer faster, there is less work for you to do when they are sending automatically and you have more time to make phone calls to the most important contacts. These are just a few of the many benefits that come from using automated email for accounts receivable.
The process to send out letters to customers with invoices and payment reminders is a long one. Between printing and stuffing envelopes and then waiting for it to finally arrive, it could take a week. Email is instantaneous. If you automate the email process, it will even save you time. Company’s using Lockstep Collect to automate the accounts receivable invoicing process via email have automated 8,000 or more emails in one year saving them around 600 hours of time.
With all the time saved by sending emails and automating the process, you’re able to pay more attention to the accounts who need it the most. When you’re not mailing hundreds of invoices, you can call the accounts who are the latest due or have the most due and ask for payment. You will have more time to follow up when the initial invoices have all been sent out on time.
LESS RISK OF INVOICE DISPUTE
Some are concerned about emailing because they may forget to attach important documents. When you forget the supporting documents like a purchase order, customers often can’t make a payment. When you automate sending emails to customers, you don’t have to worry about attaching invoices or supporting documents. The system will do it for you.Sending emails for invoices and payment reminders instead of printing letters and stuffing envelopes makes the process much quicker. By spending less time sending out everything by mail, you can focus on what is most important: collecting. You can follow up on accounts that you may have never had the time to call and start creating customer relationships.
WHY EMAIL IS MORE EFFICIENT FOR ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE COMMUNICATION
Since we are always using email, and most of our customers are on it all day, it only makes sense to communicate important collection reminders and invoices via email too. Old processes, such as sending via the postal service or fax simply don’t keep in pace with modern day instant expectations. There are four reasons why the old methods should be ditched for email.
If you don’t have an email address for your AP contact, that means your only methods for sending invoices and payment reminders is via snail mail or fax. Sending through the old mail methods takes a long time and runs the risk of losing the invoice in the mail. Fax machines are not always reliable and can’t always guarantee the right contact will get it. Your contact will have a specific email address, guaranteeing that they will receive the email.
Sometimes a company moves and you aren’t notified before they do. If you haven’t spoken with your AP contact in a while, you may end up sending an invoice to an empty building. Even if a company makes a physical move, if you have email addresses for your contacts they will still receive your invoices.
For every invoice, payment reminder, collection letter or late notice letter you send out through the mail, you’re spending a lot of money on office costs. You have to buy the paper, ink, envelopes and stamps. For every email you send, your costs are minimal or even nothing at all.
It is practically impossible to automate your accounts receivable process if you are sending invoices still through the mail or via fax. You still need someone to stuff envelopes or put the invoice in the fax tray. The only way you can truly automate invoicing is by gathering your AP contact’s email addresses and allowing an automated accounts receivable software to send out emails for you.
Customers are already in their email inbox every day. They are talking to coworkers and colleagues, so why not reach them in the place they are most active? By sending your AP contact their invoice and payment reminders via email you can reach them faster, which means they can pay on their account faster.
HOW TO PUSH CUSTOMERS TO EMAIL FOR ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE
Once you have decided that you want to start using email, you have to inform your customers that you will be changing to a new method of payment. This way, they can add you to their preferred senders in their email address book and keep an eye out for your invoices. Most customers will be onboard because most companies are now using email as the best source of contact for customers, however, there may be a few stragglers who aren’t keen on the idea. There are a few tactics you can use to ensure all customers are on board.
- Let your customers know that you will be making the switch to sending out invoices and payment reminders over email. A lot of the times customers are already using this process with other vendors, and prefer it. They may even be excited to start receiving all their invoice in their inbox. For those that are hesitant, explain in the letter how this will allow you to be more accurate and get the invoices to them more quickly and efficiently.
- Although some customers may be excited for the idea to start using email as your main form of communication, others may be hesitant. For this, you may want to consider offering an incentive for all customers that start doing their invoicing and payments with you strictly over email. Using paper invoices, stamps, envelopes and ink costs you a lot of money. Consider giving them a discount on their next purchase as a way to switch them over and thank them for helping you lower your office costs.
- If you have some stragglers that haven’t signed up for email yet, get on the phone with them. If they have an invoice due soon, give them a call to make sure they received it and are sending payment soon. Then mention the initial letter you sent about switching to email. Ask them if they are interested in moving over and ask for a good AP email address to send it to.
If you have quite a few customers, this process won’t happen over night. The initial letter will help, but you won’t get every customer’s email address. Over time, you will collect more email addresses. Every time a customer calls, mention getting an email address for them. Once you have gained more emails, you will have more time to make these calls from the accounts receivable automation process.
LETTER TEMPLATE TO HELP CUSTOMERS MAKE THE SWITCH
When you are switching from sending old fashioned mail to using email you will need to get those customers to give you their email address and be on board for the switch. First and foremost, you need to send them a letter to explain why you’re switching and gather support. This letter will get your customers to send you their email address. Although most companies would much rather communicate via email, some may be hesitant so the letter needs to address all concerns. Below, we’ve included a sample letter to get your customers to send their email address to you for accounts receivable purposes.
As we consistently look to improve our process at , we have recognized that continuing to use mail for accounts receivable is not the most efficient process. In order to continue giving our customers the quickest service and best attention, we will now be conducting all of our accounts receivable communication via email. This includes sending of invoices, payment reminders and collection letters. By sending these documents via email we can ensure each includes the necessary information and can be received in a reasonable amount of time for our customers to pay by the due date.
This letter explains what the benefits of doing accounts receivable over email is to the customer. They will receive their invoices quickly, giving them more time to pay and will receive better customer service. By giving a deadline, around 2 weeks, you can ensure that most customers will send over the email contact quickly. Finally, including a way for customers that are unsure about this switch to contact you will ease concerns and hopefully gain an email through the phone conversation.