While invoicing and collecting payments are the lifeblood of any B2B business, many companies still rely on manual processes, which can lead to a number of issues. What many businesses haven’t considered — or may not even know — is that invoicing and collecting payments can be automated, making the process simpler, more efficient and more successful.
Here are 5 common problems that manual accounts receivable processes present and how AR and invoice automation software can solve them for your business.
1. Manual Invoicing Wastes Time and Resources
Invoicing and collecting payments is more than simply sending out an invoice and watching the payment hit your bank account. Every invoice is created, sent and tracked; every communication with the client must be recorded centrally so all team members have the same information; and AR staff must decide when more drastic action, like sending an account to collections or suspending an account, must be taken.
The more clients and invoices you have, the more people that are required to manage this process successfully. Senior decision-makers surveyed for our Progressing Payments Report estimate that 11 working hours are spent on managing a single invoice, with 71% of them reporting that up to 15 people are involved in the process of managing each invoice.
When all done manually, this is a time-consuming process that occupies employees’ time and attention. Additionally, a manual process often means that invoices go unpaid for a longer time, leaving your business with debt on your books for an unnecessarily long period of time.
Invoice automation frees up time and resources: Automating AR means your employees don’t have to spend as much time invoicing and collecting payments, freeing them up to work on more complex projects.
2. Manual Invoicing Makes Accepting Different Payment Types and Currencies Difficult
Businesses today are moving past paying for everything with a check, and many expect to pay by card, eCheck, electronic funds transfer and other payment types. In fact, 53% of the businesses surveyed for our report say they want to accept more electronic payment methods. But with a manual AR process, accepting all of the different payment methods your customers use can be difficult. This is exponentially more complicated if you serve businesses in other countries using different currencies.
Automated invoicing and payment collection makes accepting different payment types easy: Automated AR with embedded payment links and the right payment processor allow your customers to use the payment types they prefer without creating more work for your employees.
3. Manual AR Processes Can Lead to Bad Data
One of the biggest pitfalls of manual invoicing is the bad data the process generates. Many companies default to manual spreadsheets for managing their invoices, which creates a lot of opportunities for bad data entry and gaps in your record. This can ultimately lead to a lot of frustration for your customers — imagine requesting an invoice payment they’ve already settled or asking for the incorrect amount. This also makes it more difficult to forecast your cash flow accurately — according to the Progressing Payments Report, 37% of businesses say this is a problem for them, and 35% say their businesses’ growth is stunted because of cash flow issues.
Automated AR and invoicing ensures accurate data: AR and Invoice automation software automatically tracks your invoices’ most important information. You get usable, accurate data you can confidently use to communicate with customers and take action on past-due accounts.
4. Manual Invoicing Makes Customer Communication Challenging
Even though invoicing often takes place after you’ve provided your products or services to a customer, invoicing is an important part of your relationship — and transparent, consistent communication is crucial. Without invoice automation, there may be no rhyme or reason to customer communication. Employees who are pressed for time or working with bad data can also damage customer relationships when communicating with them about their invoices. More than 30% of our survey respondents who agree they should be investing in AR automation indicate that they expect it would lead to an increase in customer satisfaction.
Invoice automation makes communication with customers simple and effective: Automated AR platforms like the one from BlueSnap allow you to set up a customized process and decide how many messages customers get, the content of each message, and when the messages send. BlueSnap even gives you the ability to require certain messages, like those warning customers that their accounts will be sent to collections or suspended, to be approved by someone first to ensure they’re being handled correctly. When the process is automated, you can be confident each message is sent when it should be.
5. Manual Invoicing Results in More Late Payments
All the above issues ultimately contribute to late payments, which impacts your cash flow; 43% of businesses say that invoice processing delays impact their cash flow. Spotty communication, bad data, and overworked employees make manual AR inefficient and more likely to end with an invoice going to collections or handled as a write-off. This problem only multiplies itself as a business grows and secures new customers.
Invoice automation software cuts down on late payments: The right AR and invoice automation software will make the entire process simpler, not just generating invoices. Your AR team will be more efficient and scalable..
Better Invoicing and Accounts Receivable with BlueSnap
BlueSnap Accounts Receivable Automation makes invoicing, collecting payments, communicating with customers and reporting simple. It allows you to customize your AR process and the messages sent to your customers, and you can adjust the messages and tempo as you learn more about what works for your company and your customers.
BlueSnap also allows you to accept 110+ payment types and 100+ currencies so that your customers can enjoy efficient and convenient payments. You can even create a customer portal, allowing customers to see what they owe and pay at their convenience. BlueSnap makes invoice automation simple and effective, helping you create stronger relationships with your customers and run a more successful business.