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Collections have been left out of the B2B payment tech wave

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From delivering invoices to applying cash, each step of the order-to-cash process has undergone a dedicated transformation that is bringing B2B transactions closer to achieving the seamless and effortless experience of their B2C counterparts. However, one area has been conspicuously absent from this focus: collections.

With 90% of American B2B professionals reporting late payments by customers and an overall increase in days sales outstanding (DSO) among the top U.S. businesses, collections has started to be taken more seriously. And given the fact that collections is tied to one of the most important parts of any business—cash flow— it’s about time.

Collections professionals are often overlooked because they are forced into a reactive and uncomfortable role. In reality, collections teams are very similar to the much more lauded sales team. At a high level, collections—like sales—is responsible for bringing money into the organization. And when it comes to processes, collections considers accounts just the way a salesperson does. However, collections teams generally lack the technology and support that sales teams have to execute their workflows strategically.
Today’s sales teams, for example, have the technology tools needed to determine things like the highest probability of prospects to convert, the best time to contact buyers, the best way to contact them and so on. With these types of workflow tools, collections teams can take a much more strategic approach. After all, the best time to collect is not when the invoice is past due. With automation and machine learning, collections can reach out to customers at the right time and avoid unnecessarily friction-filled interactions that are more likely to occur the longer a payment is outstanding.

Equipping a collections team with the right tools can take a company’s order-to-cash process to the next level. The right tools enable collections teams to upgrade their workflow approach by focusing teams on customer relationships; helping teams prioritize work time efficiently; providing insight/control over policies and touchpoints; simplifying/automating contact management; and boosting individual and team member productivity.

With the right collections tools, an enhanced customer experience will follow. Machine learning software solutions, for example, can help companies analyze successful collections calls and generate predictive models and scoring algorithms to predict the likelihood of a buyer to pay. Using actionable data to personalize communications, teams can eliminate a key reason why collections exists in the first place—making up for missed expectations on the part of customers.

Traditional collections processes are cumbersome, complicated and time-consuming for parties on both ends. Streamlining and simplifying the process allows collections teams to put relationships first. And as it is in sales, relationship building is the name of the game. By adopting this philosophy, collections professionals can shed the negative labels and adversarial roles they’ve been given and ensure their collections process enhances, rather than hurts, their organizations’ overall customer experience.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of a B2B company. Poor cash flow, on the other hand, can prevent B2B companies from meeting their financial obligations, limit profitability and inhibit growth. Elevating the role of collections not only contributes to the financial health of a company more efficiently but also to the company’s overall customer experience, both critical pieces of competing in today’s hotly contested business environment.

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