How automating your accounts receivable processes can set you apart from the competition – guest blog by Alistair Nicholas, Managing Director, Esker Northern Europe
14 November 2019
Whether it’s an online shopping survey or feedback on restaurant service, as consumers we are frequently asked to rate our experience of everyday interactions. But why? Because expectations have changed. Today’s customers care more about their experience and the ease of which they can do business with a company. In other words, customer service tactics of 5-10 years ago simply don’t cut it anymore. Organisations that fail to adapt and evolve their service strategies risk failing to secure and retain business.
In 2020 it’s estimated that customer experience will have overtaken price and product as the key brand differentiator.
The challenge, as customer experience becomes the new competitive battleground, is the bar has been raised. Customers expect immediate, personalised interactions.
But interactions happen across a host of departments and ensuring the customer receives the best possible experience across each of these touch-points is a complex and formidable task. Many companies try to tackle this on a team-by-team basis rather than as a combined effort and Accounts Receivable (AR) can be overlooked.
AR – a forgotten customer touch-point?
The importance of AR to the success of a business is undeniable; efficient invoice delivery, payment and collections processes are imperatives for survival and growth. But what about the role AR plays in customer experience? As the final post-sale customer interaction, AR will greatly influence whether a customer decides to do business with you again. And it’s a challenge; billing and collections can be a delicate dance with customers – one made more difficult by bounced emails, incorrect or missing account information and lengthy reconciliation processes due to manual bottlenecks.
Yet many AR departments continue to rely on manual methods in their process. Nearly half of CFOs have expressed frustration that accounting systems are not sufficiently digitised and 40% stated that they’re too labour intensive[i]. From post-it notes to Excel spreadsheets; these manual methods are inefficient and can be unreliable.
The right technology to empower your customers
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, driving advocacy, passion and loyalty among their base, as well as lower DSO and increased margins.
Instant access to the information that AR teams need allows them to serve customers quickly and accurately, making confusion created by manual processes a distant memory. The addition of self-service tools further enhances the customer experience by allowing customers to take control of their business – whether it be accessing an invoice or making an online payment – in a central location where all teams can come together to assist customers.
The benefits of automation aren’t limited to just collections. Not only does Esker’s solution integrate with any ERP system, but it can also integrate with Invoice Delivery and Cash Application solutions to better manage the entire AR process.
Automating invoice delivery ensures receipt of every invoice in accordance with customer preferences and local regulations. E-invoicing increases accuracy and can reduce costs by up to 40%. Fast payment methods give your customers the freedom to pay online, as they wish: credit card, direct debit, BACS etc.
It’s not just your customers that benefit
All stakeholders benefit from a user-friendly interface, automated tools and customisable dashboards to collaborate more efficiently, work smarter and get paid faster.
As personalised, seamless and enjoyable interactions become increasingly important, delivering a good customer experience is becoming a key business opportunity, allowing organisations to gain customers, grow market share, and in turn, provide a firm foothold for success.
For more information on how Esker’s solutions could support your customer experience; Download the free guide now and find out how automation removes the obstacles of the invoice to cash conversion cycle to delight your customers and help you get paid faster.
Esker is a worldwide leader in cloud-based document process automation software. Esker offers companies integrated solutions for improving order-to-cash, purchase-to-pay and document delivery performance.
[i] Atradius Payment Practices barometer (Great Britain). 2018