For Healthcare Staffing AR Teams, Healthy Communication is Everything

Wednesday, Dec 7th 2022
Customer Communication

In accounts receivable, effective communication can mean the difference between a company thriving or failing. This is particularly true for healthcare staffing agencies. While the industry is seeing unprecedented growth, the combined effects of the global pandemic and economic uncertainty have left hospitals and other medical offices in a tenuous financial situation. Many have struggled to make payments on time, leading to slowed cash flow and high days sales outstanding (DSO) for staffing agencies. 

A well-crafted communication cadence is one of the most effective ways to combat late payments. Not only does it help keep the invoice top of mind for the customer; it increases the likelihood of prompt payment while improving the customer experience. 

 

Fixing the Communication Breakdown 

Staffing agencies need to be in regular communication with customers to ensure that payments are made in a timely manner, while still respecting the difficulties the organization may be facing. As Stephen Tracy, Director of Finance at CHG Healthcare, noted in our recent blog post, “Sometimes we have to remind hospitals that we are essentially an extension of their payroll, and we need to be treated that way.” 

To instill and reinforce this idea, it’s important that AR employees stay in regular communication with customers, not only providing invoices that detail what services have been provided but following up to emphasize the importance of prompt resolution of the bill. Just as they would not fail to pay their own employees or pay them late, it’s important that the medical offices understand that paying their staffing invoices is fundamentally the same.   

This means finding the customer’s preferred method of communication and working through it to develop strategies to ensure timely payments. This may be through specially tailored email communications, phone conversations, physical mail, or a combination of all three. By adapting to their preferred channel, organizations can meet customers where they are, improving the overall experience, and making it more likely that the message will be received and acted upon.  

Did you know? 

32% of customers state that they are much more likely to buy more often from a business that offers their preferred method of communication.  

Using manual methods, this becomes a time-intensive process that takes your AR team away from higher-value activities. AR automation software, such as that provided by Quadient Accounts Receivable by YayPay, allows teams to set up customizable workflows that trigger communications to customers on a cadence that suits them, via their preferred method. 

 

Keeping the Personal Touch  

In the white paper, The Top 10 Healthcare Staffing Challenges–And How to Solve Them, Firstup notes the importance of, “investing in technology that is focused on…the interconnection of information and processes…” For accounts receivable, this means finding the proper balance between automation and maintaining the human element of managing customer relationships. Adopting technology that provides automated communications enables AR representatives to keep an invoice top of mind for customers. In addition, using a solution that allows for the creation of custom communication workflows means that they can ensure that the right information gets to the right person every time.  

“Many companies use automation to free employees up to do other things. On the other hand, I believe working from home has also highlighted the need for “soft skills” that automation software isn’t capable of. Less in-person interaction with customers, for example, has forced a new focus on phone calls, instant messaging and email communications with customers. Workers have had to find new ways to interact with customers and make them feel heard and valued without relying on facial expressions or body language.” - Shawn Herring, VP of Marketing for PandaDoc and Forbes Council Member 

In addition to tailoring communications to the customer’s preferred method, automation software allows AR teams to craft their messaging to the specific department or employee they are working with. The tone and content of a message to a payables representative will be necessarily different than one directed toward the CFO. This combination of hard and soft skills, knowing how to employ the proper technology and understanding situational communication needs, will simultaneously help generate faster payment while ensuring the customer feels like they are known and understood. 

 

The Lost Art of Listening 

Of course, communication is a two-way street, and part of maintaining the human touch is to be a good listener. Providing customers with a quick and effective way to bring questions, concerns, and disputes to your team is another means of improving customer experience and, by extension, increasing the lifetime value of accounts and ensuring prompt payment of invoices. 

For companies relying on manual processes, the only way customers can effectively get their questions answered is via a telephone call. That means waiting on hold, getting transferred, and wasting valuable time in their day. It’s frustrating and will likely lead to delays in payment. 

Quadient Accounts Receivable by YayPay provides customers with a self-service portal where they can view open invoices, past payments, credits, and account activity. The portal also provides easy communication with AR specialists. Any questions or concerns can be entered through the portal and the software will direct them immediately to the appropriate team member for a quick response.  

This can help avoid invoice disputes, allowing hospitals to ask questions about specific line items on invoices and charges, helping to avoid any confusion that might result in a formal dispute.  

Making it easier for customers to ask questions, which can be rapidly responded to by the right team member, reassures clients that a company is genuinely interested in taking care of their business. This confidence, in turn, leads to faster payments and improved cash flow.  

 

Putting it Together 

As the healthcare staffing industry continues to grow, it will be necessary for AR teams to grow and adapt along with it. The foundation for success begins with having a clear customer communication strategy in place. 

The simplest step toward bringing an effective communication cadence into action is through an accounts receivable automation solution. This provides the tools and resources necessary to control account information and manage communications. Taken together, this makes the process more efficient for AR representatives, while providing a better customer experience.  

To learn more about how customer communications can take your AR to the next level, download our whitepaper, Customer Communications: Your Most Overlooked Superpower in AR