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Any CFO can tell you how important customer payment collection is to the financial health of their business. In fact, a recent survey of Credit Research Foundation (CRF) members found that “reducing Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)” was the top way CFOs and senior leadership want to see collections and receivables management processes contribute more positively to business results.

While getting paid quickly ensures healthy cash flow for covering expenses and investing in growth, accurate application of customer payments is also critical for providing a positive customer payment experience, end-to-end. For both valuable repeat customers and new customer relationships you’re building, timely and accurate cash application translates into faster credit replenishment which ultimately means more sales. Additionally, an efficient and precise accounts receivable process means that unnecessary collections calls—which can irritate customers who have paid on time—are prevented.

How can your Accounts Receivable function speed payment collection and ensure that downstream processes improve business relationships and key financial metrics? We talk to our customers about three key ways to position AR, credit, and collections teams for success.

1. Offer flexible and convenient payment options.

Nearly 40% of businesses plan to expand the number of ways their customers can pay in the next 2-3 years. In a business payment environment that is already complex and peppered with payment types, the reasons for offering even more customer payment options are typically speed and convenience – hopefully on both sides of the transaction.

Beyond accepting common payment types like check, ACH, cards, and wires through lockbox and bank channels, think about the ways your customers interact with your business. Do they buy online, visit a store, receive deliveries from sales at their business location? Is your business equipped to accept payment through any of these channels?

Online portals and mobile payment capture technologies enable customers to pay instantly, while their bill is top of mind, from anywhere. These instant electronic payment options reduce DSO for your business and provide flexibility and convenience to customers.

Online portal-based payments empower customers to pay once or schedule recurring payments using the electronic payment method of their choice. By enabling this payment channel, you can accelerate your move away from manual check payments. Many portal solutions also offer opportunities for your business to add its own branding and payment terminology, ensuring a seamless and differentiated experience for your clients.

Mobile payment technology can be accessed via mobile phones or tablets in the field. Payment images or other details are easily captured and payments are deposited and applied.

2. Streamline what happens after the payment.

Nearly 50% of credit management professionals say that technology which can integrate seamlessly with existing platforms and eliminate manual data entry or upload/download tasks will have the biggest impact in the next 3-5 years.

When considering online portal payment solutions or mobile payment capture technology, it’s critical that these payment tools are properly integrated with your billing system/ERP. When AR Automation technologies like AI, machine learning, and natural language processing are layered in, it’s possible for payments to be processed straight-through with, eliminating the need to manually match payments to open invoices and customer accounts and drastically reducing manual errors. This streamlined cash application process lowers per-payment processing costs, speeds credit replenishment, and puts cash to work faster for your organization.

In the case of field payments collected via mobile devices, salespeople can refocus time previously spent making deposits at branch offices or bank locations on building customer relationships or securing their next order. Mobile payment capture technology should also be an extension of your AR process, where payments are not only received and deposited but also applied straight-through.

3. Empower people.

Offering more convenient customer payment options and implementing downstream AR Automation can address employee job satisfaction and staffing challenges, too. Keeping up staff levels and backfilling positions are real challenges in a competitive hiring market. With automation, manual payment research and matching tasks are taken care of, simplifying new-hire training in addition to the processes themselves. Employees are then free to spend their time on more strategic and fulfilling work. Our customers find that they can leverage their existing teams to handle even greater payment volumes as their businesses grow.

Brand loyalty and customer experiences have never been more important than they are in 2022, and we all know that happier employees treat customers better.

How can your organization help customers pay faster?

To learn more:

2-Minute ePayment Customer Portal Demo
2-Minute Mobile AR Demo

How Madison Resources Delivered a Better Payment Experience
“All our client-facing staff takes every opportunity to direct clients to the ePayment Portal,” said French. “It’s an easy sell because it’s easy to use, provides convenience and the information they need, and the end-users have no idea that Madison Resources is the company providing the service.” – Sara French, cash application supervisor at Madison Resources

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