Understanding and Overcoming Customer Data Pain Points
Accounting professionals handle the money—so do they really need to know what makes customers tick? The answer is a resounding yes.
Receiving customer payments, whether it’s a B2B or B2C transaction, is a critical touchpoint in all customer journeys. Money matters on a subconscious level, and the less stressful the process is, the better. In fact, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a positive customer experience.
Unless you charge a deposit or advance, payments are on the tail end of every transaction. And it’s what a company is bound to remember.
As a result, many AR teams either take two extremes. Either they have a rigid accounts receivable customer journey. Or they accept payments in whatever form the AP team performs.
But neither approach necessarily solves the customer pain points in regard to payments.
Before we get into using data, let’s look at customer pain points and common AP challenges.
Defining Customer Pain Points for Payments
Understanding customer pain points is essential for any business, but when we look at customer challenges in the context of payments, we need to understand two levels.
First, there are the overarching business objectives and obstacles. For this group, pain points generally fall into these categories:
- Budgetary constraints
- Productivity and workload management
- Time constraints
- Technical support assistance
But on the level of payments, we need to look at your customer’s AP or payment process.
Accounts receivable professionals usually deal specifically with accounts payable teams, although sometimes it can be the owner or B2C customer. This sub-group has its own set of pain points that can be answered by an effective AR workflow.
6 Common AP Challenges
Accounts payable, which at times can be a single-person account department, or even the owner, have specific challenges that AR teams can solve.
Here are the top 6 challenges your client’s AP department faces and how AR can solve them:
1. Processing Invoices is Expensive
The cost for AP departments to process invoices has decreased by 15% over the last year, but it’s still far too expensive. According to Ardent’s annual State of ePayables report, invoice processing still costs $9.95 per invoice on average without considering corrections.
As you can imagine, manual invoices drive up this expense. Sending printed and even PDF invoices not only takes more time than digital methods but puts pressure on the finance department’s budget.
For your business, using paperless, immediate payment e-invoices reduces this friction. Not only can invoices be fulfilled nearly instantly, but the cost to your client is reduced, too. It’s a win-win.
2. Waiting on Cash Flow from AR
Another common pain points your customers likely have is cash flow. In fact, your AR team is likely familiar with the excuse from your customers—” Once we get paid, we can pay you…”
Having an automated platform can reduce delays once your customer has the funds. They may also appreciate a platform allowing them to simultaneously make partial or multiple payments.
3. Manual Processing
Despite the shift to digitization, many companies still employ several manual tasks either because they can’t be automated or because the organization hasn’t invested in the technology.
Performing tedious tasks, such as sorting and paying invoices, by hand causes several issues. Not only is it more expensive, but it also opens the process to errors and is incredibly slow to complete.
Anything your company can do, payments or otherwise, to reduce manual touchpoints will dramatically improve the customer experience.
4. Remittances and Receipts
Another issue your customers have when it comes to payments is matching their payment with your invoice and receipt. This is especially true if they paid via check or if there is a significant delay between the payment and the receipt.
The good news is that many payment platforms offer automated receipts. As soon as you reconcile a payment, the program sends a digital receipt to your customer. At Paystand, we went further and provided a notarized receipt upon payment.
5. Fraud risk
Many AP teams, like your AR department, are concerned about fraud risks. Ensuring you have a clear audit trail of financial documentation for every transaction can combat these risks.
When combined with fund-on-file tokenization, notarized receipts, and blockchain-powered certainty, you and your customer can feel more comfortable making digital transactions.
6. Limited visibility
Low visibility into any business process makes well-informed decision-making nearly impossible. Your clients want transparency, and that wish extends to how they can make payments.
Clear payment terms, contracts, and documentation, as well as an easy-to-follow process for orders, customer service, and payments, ensure that everyone is on the same page. And when it comes to payments, an automated process with data measured at every step can give your customers confidence in your operations.
Analyzing Data for AR
Depending on your AR process, you may be able to tap into payments from the entire customer journey. Or you may only get glimpses of the customer’s side—usually through cart abandonment rates for B2C or high Day Sales Outstanding (DSO).
In addition to checking for lower DSO, higher conversions, AR aging, and bad debt ratios, you also want to see how people are paying. When you have a baseline for customer preferences, it’s much easier to apply strategies to encourage your preferred method.
Outside of the hard data, you could also go the extra mile. Sending a brief survey after a payment, interviewing customers, or performing a UX audit can all help you fine-tune your digital accounts receivables process and customer satisfaction.
Put Customers First
Your payment process shouldn’t just be a generic tack-on at the end of an invoicing period or transaction. Branded invoices and payment links, combined with the efficiency of automation and security of the blockchain, create a stellar customer experience.
And at the same time, it makes the entire process easier for both your team and your customer’s AP team.
We’d go out on a limb and suggest that the sooner B2B payments look like B2C payments, the better for everyone involved. For more details on why fast and convenient B2B payments are the future, check out our in-depth eGuide on how business transactions can be improved.