Every business faces the issue with accounts receivable every once in a while irrespective their size. And yet, most of them feel as though it will affect the customer relationship negatively if they ask for or demand payment from the customer for the products/services provided.
Thankfully, this popular belief is not at all true.
Your customers will not get disappointed or leave your company just because you asked for payment for products/services provided. They know that they owe you. If your customers are leaving you, it’s not because you’re asking them to pay their bills, but it may have something to do with the way you go about collecting invoices.
As a matter of fact, better accounts receivable management can considerably improve customer satisfaction and retention.
By implementing debt collection best practices, you can not only provide better customer service and increase customer satisfaction, but also you can increase your cash flow and grow your business.
Even if you have a few difficult customers who don’t want to pay, a majority of your customers truly do want to pay outstanding account receivable. However, sometimes things do not go as planned and they fail to pay you on time.
Why do you want to improve account receivable management?
After all the time, effort and money it took to turn a prospect into a customer, you would not want to lose them over an unpaid invoice, right? You and your team have already given so much effort to retain these customers. Blowing the chance of repeat purchases because of a frustrating collection experience is not a wise decision. Also it takes a huge cost to acquiring a new customer.
Therefore, it is better to improve the collection experience by managing accounts receivable better and keep the existing customers happier.
How can improved accounts receivable management make customers happier?
It’s quite simple actually! Good accounts receivable management will make their lives much easier, help them remember to send in their checks, and make the process easy.
Here are a few simple things you can begin with:
- Create a plan. The Credit Research Foundation estimates that only 20% of credit departments have formalized policies with well-defined goals.
- Centralize all data and information
- Provide agents with timely and accurate information to avoid any misunderstanding
- Define roles. It is important to know who has which responsibility
- Determine KPIs to see how your business is doing in overall collection scenario.
- Manage your resources
- Define dispute resolution procedure
- Focus on important accounts
- Be proactive and invoice the parties earlier to let them know it is time for them to pay their dues
- Make sure invoices are complete and correct
- Include your terms clearly on invoice
- Have a standard system for follow-up (letters, emails, phone calls, etc.)
- Escalate troubled accounts
Of course, if you have a small AR department or do not have the right tools for the job, you will find AR management a little difficult. After all, software and communication templates may save the situation but they will never be able to replace a personalized communication. In such case, to deal with accounts receivable, you might have to hire debt collection agencies that can deal with the situation expertly and make your customers happier.
Remember, accounts receivable is your last communication with the customer on a sale, and it can have a huge impact on whether or not they choose to do business with you again.