Organisations never get a heads up before a time of unprecedented business disruption. And when the ability to collect cash is hindered, emerging from a period of disruption with a strong bottom line is nearly impossible. So, how can businesses continue to collect cash during times like these? And how can business leaders better prepare their organisations for future times of uncertainty? We’re here to help answer those questions!
In Episode 2 of Esker On Air, host Scott Leahy chats with Customer Experience Advocate Joe Anderson about strategies for effectively managing accounts receivable (AR) processes during difficult times and the importance of equipping your AR teams with flexible solutions that promote business continuity.
The current business environment
If there’s one thing that’s blatantly obvious as a result of our current, disrupted business environment, it’s that some companies where more equipped to handle it than others. With the goal of collecting as much cash as possible, AR leaders are under a lot of pressure to act fast and make necessary changes to keep bottom lines above water during tough times. To speed up your collections, you should:
- Assess your current collections status. In order to make informed decisions and effectively prioritise collections, you need a clear picture of your current standing.
- Conduct a thorough review of customer categories, aging balances and at-risk cash
- Use this information to adjust current collection strategies and tailor the process to collect cash quickly
Adjusting collection strategies and managing customer relationships
In times like these, AR teams should focus on collecting what can be collected. One way to do this is to suspend typical collection activities to start targeting either customers with the highest amounts that need to be collected, or customers most at risk based on industry, payer ratings or past-due status.
Customers are already one of the biggest assets to any business, and maintaining strong relationships during uncertain times is vital to the future success of your business. One way to both accelerate cash collection and strengthen customer relationships is to make it easy and convenient to pay you. Here are some ways to increase ease of payment:
- Move customers to e-invoicing. E-invoicing avoids the various costs and drama associated with postal mail.
- Be flexible with payments. Allow customers to renegotiate payment terms and/or spread debt out over a longer period of time.
- Provide incentive to pay. Offering early payment discounts encourages customers to pay quickly — benefitting both your business and your valued customers.
- Let customers use their preferred payment method. Allow customers to pay in a way that is easy for them (check, ACH, credit card) to promote faster collection. Better yet, provide a self-service portal where they can make payments on their own.
Challenges of a remote AR operation and how to overcome them
When most people think about AR and collections, they typically think of someone sitting on the phone and making collection calls all day long. If that were actually how it worked, collecting cash during times of disruption would be a piece of cake. However, there are a whole bunch of important steps that have to happen before any collection call is made that require collaboration between AR teams and other departments.
For instance, before collectors can know who to call, credit teams need to communicate payment terms and credit limits with sales and customer service representatives. Then, once collectors know which accounts need to be called, it can be another battle entirely to find up-to-date contact information, payment history and account statements if the AR team doesn’t have a solution for storing all relevant customer information.
The key to AR teams working remotely is breaking down silos that impede collaboration and efficiency, and one of the best ways to achieve that is by automating the AR process. Not only does automation provide teams a way to continue operations remotely and collect cash faster, but it also empowers staff members to work better together.