When you’re transitioning your accounts receivable operations to a remote work method, you will have a period of getting used to your new work environment and habits. Once your remote work infrastructure and remote workspace are set up for productive collections activity, it’s time to start thinking about how to transition your customers, as well. If your customers shift some of their payment behaviors, the transition will be easier on everyone involved.
Promote Customer Adoption of Self-Service
A simple way to make the collections process more efficient for both your accounts receivable team and the customer is to give them the opportunity to go online for payments, AR documents and disputes. Customer self-service takes a lot of time and energy off collectors and allows them to focus on the most important activities that brings in cash faster.
Collecting Cash Remotely
One of the biggest transitions for the accounts receivable department when moving operations remotely is figuring out how to deal with customers who still want to send their payment via check. When there is no one at the office location to send these checks to, who will be accepting them and depositing them? Instead of contacting all of your customers to give them a new address, contact your customers and encourage them to pay via credit card or ACH payments. You could even offer a small discount incentive to get customers to use one of these payment options.
Spend Less Time on the Phone
This may seem counterintuitive to the core activities of most collections professionals. A lot of your work relies on being on the phone with customers. However, there’s a difference between productive collection calls and simply fielding calls from customers who have questions. Moving your operations remotely is a time of transition for your customers too and they might have more questions than usual about how to remit payment or who they should be contacting. Keep your contact information and notices up to date online and include links in all your communications regarding access to this information. Additionally, give your customers the ability to communicate with you online, so you can answer these questions when it is most advantageous for you, instead of having to stop what you’re doing and answer the phone multiple times a day.
Let Customers Access Documents Themselves
A common remote work issue is where your customer documents will be stored and who will keep track of them. When a customer calls and needs access to a document, it’s important that your team knows where it’s located and can easily produce the document for them. Instead of trying to keep hundreds of folders in a shared file system, like SharePoint or Google Docs, it’s much easier to allow customers to self-serve their own AR documents online. Not only does this create one centralized location for all important documents, but it also reduces the amount of emails and phone calls you might receive from customers looking for access to a specific document.
Giving customers the ability to self-serve payments, AR documents, disputes and questions online takes a lot of the burden off of remote accounts receivable employees. Remote employees have to schedule their day to make phone calls when they have a quiet and focused workspace, so fielding calls all day from customers with questions will only reduce productivity. Customer self-service made specifically for accounts receivable, like Lockstep Collect, increases the time remote accounts receivable professionals have to focus on collecting cash.