What AR Self-Service Means To Your Customers

Nicole Dwyer | Tuesday, Apr 7th 2020
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Improve customer satisfaction and increase cash flow with one simple tool

I have a few questions for you. Don’t worry - they’re pretty easy to answer:

  • How much time does your AR team spend hunting down past invoices for your customers?
  • How much time is then spent emailing, faxing or posting those invoices and other documents to your customers?
  • How many calls does your AR take for simple inquiries like checking an invoice balance or requesting a duplicate of an invoice?

Most importantly, what would you do with that time if you could reclaim it? 

What other activities could your AR team be focused on that generate more value and more revenue for your business?

Efficiency and cash flow are critical to your business success. And solving those issues makes for happier employees, too, who are able to focus on more interesting and meaningful work.

But let’s consider the customer’s perspective.

  • How much time does your customer want to spend on the phone with your team, asking about copies of invoices or balance updates?
  • How often does your customer enjoy digging through their desk drawers and fills looking for misplaced documents?
  • How much do your customers love hearing from your collections team? 

I’m guessing that as much as your customers might love your product or service, your business and your team, expending energy and valuable time on these activities is not at the top of their “love to do” list.

Now, what if I told you there there’s one simple solution that solves all of these challenges.

A cloud-based, self-service portal for your customers offers layers of benefits for all parties. If you don’t have one today, you need one. If you do have one, then now is a good time to evaluate that it offers all the features your customers need to manage their daily business.

A self-service portal can deliver many time-saving features: 

  • Secure anytime, anywhere access with an internet connection
  • Access to current and past invoices, balance due updates and payment history
  • Payment options via wire, ACH or credit card
  • Automated communications to confirm payments or to remind when payments are due

Those basic options instantly save hours of work done by your already overloaded AR team, and at the same time allow your customers the flexibility to manage their business on their terms, when convenient for them. Rather than needing to schedule calls during your service hours, they can rely on 24/7 availability of their account information to better handle their accounts. This accessibility improves on-time payments and cash flow for the business.

Providing a self-service portal to your customers makes sense. But a truly smart more, for smarter AR, is to ensure you offer the kind of functionality that helps develop the customer relationship as well. An online portal shouldn’t be a blocker that creates an impersonal experience for customers, but rather be a gateway to a stronger connection to your business. 

When looking at a solution for your AR portal, be sure that you consider the following:

  • Data consolidation and a smart dashboard. You want a solution that brings together your customer data from different sources. This allows both your team and the customer to have a full view of their account and their relationship with you.  A dashboard view gives a simple but important snapshot into the health of the account, invoice status, any disputes, and any other activities impacting the account. The more transparency, the easier it is for both you and your customer to manage business.
  • Automated communications. Simple, automated reminders such as when bills are due or when one is overdue benefit everyone. The automated process takes the burden off your AR team to have to manually review each account and generate a notice, and the customer has a friendly reminder for something that may be a simple oversight. These communications are also regular touchpoints that ensure your customer is well-informed of their account status and stays connected with your business.
  • Processes for handling disputes and complaints. Your portal should have a process for your customers to file disputes or complaints regarding activities on their account. Creating an automated flow for registering these allows the customer to express their concern on their time, and also provides immediate feedback to the customer on what to expect next in the process. If you have a system with Predictive Communications, like YayPay’s, then your AR team has the added benefit of a smart tool that flags for them which communications should be prioritized due to complaints or disputes. This ensures a quick, efficient handling of a situation before it gets out of hand.
  • Flexible payment terms. In addition to providing a variety of ways you customer can pay, you may consider offering flexible payment terms to accommodate when a customer is having a difficult quarter or is experiencing a delay in payment. With consolidated data available to you, you can easily see your customer’s payment history, and get a sense of the health of their business, leading you to offer more forgiving options when appropriate. You can generate plenty of goodwill with your customer if, the next time they log in to figure out their payment strategy, they see that they have business-friendly options available to them. 

Your customer portal is more than just a doorway to invoices. It’s a part of your overall credit-to-cash process. And this process has a significant impact on your customer relationships.  Your customer satisfaction scores increase when customers feel that you are transparent and communicative, and that you understand their business. Customer loyalty is on the rise when you are able to offer them terms and services that meet their business needs. Both of these translate into stability in your customer base as well as a higher opportunity to grow your footprint inside those accounts.  In addition, your customer service reputation improves your new customer acquisition efforts because you’ve become a company that is easy to do business with.

And you do it all with customer intelligence, so that the credit decisions you make, the payment options you offer and the ongoing communications you maintain are all created with the data you have consolidated about your customers and their business.

This is what we mean by smart tools for smart AR. 

Watch the replay of the webinar, Using Smart Technology to Become a Revenue Hero, with Mehmet Shah, Director of Finance for StackAdapt, as he talks with Nicole Dwyer, Chief Product Officer at YayPay, about how data management, automation and transparency are key for his team’s ability to manage the entire credit-to-cash process in today’s challenging Covid-19 environment.

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