For businesses to prosper, exceptional customer experiences are a prerequisite that should not be compromised. With customer loyalty hinging on good customer experiences (CX), more companies are choosing to prioritize CX strategies. But CX extends well beyond customer service. CX is the sum of interactions that a business has with a customer through all stages of the buyer journey. A critical part of that customer experience resides in the invoicing and payment cycle. Just one negative experience in the invoice-to-payment journey could lead to an abandoned transaction or customer attrition. So, to meet customers where they are today, understanding the intersection of accounts receivable and customer service can help when planning out CX strategies. This article will examine how the automation of accounts receivable (AR) can improve customer experience.
In this article
AR Automation Provides Convenience to Customers
Today’s customers are digitally savvy, self-reliant and they want more than just good service. They want to be able to transact at their own convenience wherever they are, whenever they want. Traditional accounts receivable processes are manual and paper-based which lacks in efficiency and convenience. Invoicing alone when done manually, takes a lot of time and is highly error prone. This can lead to disputes and negative experiences for the customer. So, when considering the customer experience, automation in AR has much to offer. With automation, invoices are generated electronically and can be delivered directly to the customer swiftly. This convenience reduces the time it takes for an invoice to arrive in the hands of the addressee, but it further supports quicker payments. Customers also gain access to a customer portal from where they can manage their invoices and make payments when it is convenient for them, regardless of time of day or where they are. These conveniences put some control back into the hands of the customer and allows them to be more self-sufficient which improves the overall customer experience.
AR Automation Delivers Greater Transparency
For a customer to receive a cohesive experience across a brand, it is important for the different teams in an organization to have access to the same information. In traditional accounts receivable workflows, transparency is lacking since the processes center around paper invoices. With no single source of truth, being able to track small changes made on one desk can lead to miscommunications and ultimately poor experiences for the customer. Consider the situation where a collections team is chasing payments of an unpaid invoice that is being disputed by the customer. Without a sightline to the fact that the invoice is being disputed, the collections team is not positioned to create a positive experience for the customer. Situations of this nature can be damaging for your brand, but with accounts receivable automation, they can be avoided.
Implementing an accounts receivable automation platform allows the end-to-end journey of an invoice to be tracked. With ready access, all relevant teams can know at any given time what stage an invoice is in. This transparency permits collections to be handled with a more customer-centric approach. The customer can also escalate disputes with ease on the customer portal. With all parties having sightlines to the status of an invoice, the overall experience for the customer is improved.
AR Automation Tools Facilitate Better Communication
In delivering good customer experiences, businesses gain the loyalty and trust of customers, which drives up customer retention. Businesses that utilize traditional AR payments workflows are challenged to deliver positive experiences when following up on unpaid invoices. Dunning letters that are asking for monies owed can convey frustration, especially if the invoice is well past due. AR automation approaches communication in a less confrontational manner.
An automated dunning notice strategy can be implemented that eases some of the tension traditionally associated with collections. Automated notices are less intimidating and come across as a routine customer service process. Setting up a cadence that starts with gentle reminders and then slowly builds in urgency as the invoice ages, can help to alleviate unintended reproach and expedite payments. With automation, this does not have to be a one size fits all approach. Cadences can be set differently for different customers. AR automation platforms track customer history allowing for better understanding of customer behaviour. These insights can be applied to a personalized dunning notice strategy that has a more positive impact on the overall experience. AR automation tools facilitate better communication which helps ensure a smooth and seamless customer experience.
The Bottom Line
Customer relationships are vulnerable during the invoicing and payment stage. When businesses directly connect customers with their accounts receivable teams and offer streamlined payment choices and invoice management all under a robust cloud platform, the result is improved productivity, accelerated cashflow and happy customers.