5 ways AR automation helps teams adapt to new ways of working – Guest blog by Esker
16 July 2020
As we slowly ease back out into the world there are still many uncertainties around us, but one thing’s for sure; we will have to continue to respond to challenges and changes as we adapt to new ways of living and working.
It’s also clear that companies need effective, robust tools and processes to ensure they can operate, no matter what comes their way. Automating your accounts receivable (AR) process is a great place to start as many firms focus firmly on collecting cash and managing working capital.
There are many great quantitative benefits that AR automation offers businesses; lower DSO, faster payment, lower processing costs. However, the measurable improvements aren’t everything; here are 5 seemingly softer, but no less important or impactful, benefits of AR automation that are critical to seamless business operations.
1. Flexible working
Now more than ever, businesses are recognising the need for tools that enable workplace flexibility. Not necessarily just working from home, although that of course is now a key requirement, but the ability to stay connected whilst travelling, to events or customer/supplier offices is a necessity for many managers and employees. Did you know how automation can address many of the concerns of remote working, enabling AR professionals to stay on top of tasks from almost anywhere?
With data stored in secure cloud-based systems or online portals, critical information can be accessed in a controlled environment by employees from any location without compromising security. Also, with electronic workflows, teams can collaborate in real-time, gain approvals and assign tasks with just a few clicks – and from just about anywhere!
By assigning a checklist of tasks to complete and a dashboard to track progress, managers can rest assured that productivity will not drop, and monitor performance throughout the day.
2. Improved collaboration
AR automation can dramatically improve the way information is shared within an organisation. This is as vital as ever with more teams employing flexible working practices, but sharing information effectively can also really benefit company performance.
Take the relationship between Sales and Credit Management, for example. It’s one of the most important relationships in an organisation and key to securing lucrative deals with the right customers. The issue here is that it can sometimes feel like these departments are working at odds with one another. Sales can be a highly competitive environment and teams invest great time and effort in identifying and securing new deals. Which is why it can be so frustrating when the credit management department advise stopping a sale in the closing stages. Although when you think about it, is a sale really worth closing if there’s a high chance that you won’t get paid?
AR automation can be leveraged to bring departments closer together, through improved communication and mutual understanding, creating a unified – and formidable – force.
Sales teams benefit from visibility of a customer’s payment behaviour. If a customer is consistently paying late, or not at all, they can hold back from trying to grow a troubled account, or even assist in the communication process to help identify alternative ways to bring cash in more quickly. Conversely, if a customer has favourable credit there may be an opportunity to increase sales without exposure to greater risk. Having visibility of common data means credit teams can conduct initial investigations earlier to ensure that sales are spending valuable time and effort pursuing valid prospects.
3. Access to customer information 24/7
Customer experience has become the new competitive battleground for business; today’s customers care more than ever about their experience and the ease of which they can do business with a company. Automated AR solutions offer online self-service portals to enhance the customer experience, allowing customers to do everything from view statements and apply credits, to manage online payments or file a dispute.
Having the right technologies in place can ensure organisations can not only meet but exceed their customers’ expectations across the end-to-end AR experience. Instant access to the information that customers need, allows them to serve themselves quickly and accurately, making confusion created by manual processes a distant memory. According to industry research, when customers need support for a product or service, 55% are most likely to try self-service options versus using chat (20%), email (16%) or phone (8%).[i]
4. End-to-end visibility
Successful AR teams need access to consistent, accurate and real-time information. By moving your customers to e-invoicing you can send invoices regardless of external factors, mitigating the impact of postal service disruption and absenteeism too. In addition, with real time invoice delivery via a portal you can track invoice status from creation to receipt to final payment.
With AR automation, managers and collectors can keep track of critical KPIs with scheduled and custom reports allowing discrepancies and bottlenecks to be addressed quickly. By reporting on specific customer segments (industry, payer rating etc.) dashboards can help assess your own risk exposure and focus your collections efforts where they are needed most.
5. Savvy sustainability
In an electronic workflow, everything is just that: electronic. No paper, no printers, ink, fax machine, or other costly equipment needed to enable teams to work from home. That means no longer having to rely on all those things being available in order to execute your AR process in the office, either! That’s a huge plus for companies and for our planet. The less material you consume to get a job done, the better for our environment. Plus it’s faster and more efficient!
Interested in learning more? Discover 7 tips for managing your AR process in challenging times download the Esker eBook now
[i] Guide to Mastering Intelligent Customer Service. (2016). Coveo. PDF file.