Beyond the usual arguments for going digital – time savings, eliminate mistakes caused by manual entry, and save envelope, printing and postage costs – digital invoicing can help ensure business continuity in today’s rapidly changing market.
Remote working brings about many challenges for organizations and the AR department is no exception. For businesses that rely heavily on manual and paper-based processes, the current situation will be especially tough. With economic uncertainty the only certainty at the moment, it’s important for finance leaders to make the necessary changes now, in order to position their company for survival in the months ahead, and an eventual return to growth. One change that can help is to make the move to electronic billing.
You’re not at your office to print and stuff envelopes. Your customers aren’t at their offices to receive invoices in the mail. Making your invoicing process fully digital enables you to deliver invoices from your at-home office and ensures your customers can receive those invoices from wherever they are working.
How to make the switch?
Once you’ve recognized the need to switch from paper to digital, you need to put together a strategic plan. When putting together your plan, there are 4 key elements to consider:
1. Customer email addresses
Ensure your business has a record of customer email addresses or has a plan on how to collect them. Having your customers email addresses is essential to electronic invoicing, as this is how invoices will be delivered.
2. Goals and objectives
Clearly outline your goals for switching to a digital process. Mainly, why are you making the switch, what is the win you’re aiming to get out of it, and in what timeline?
3. Customer communication and change management
Communicate with your customers in advance. Make them aware of the changes coming, the benefits they will reap from this new process, and of any adjustments they may need to make.
4. Implementation approach
Decide if you are going to phase-in the new process, or launch it simultaneously for all customers? Both approaches have pros and cons, but it will ultimately be up to the decision makers on your team to make that call. If you would like to learn more about the pros and cons of these implementation approaches, please feel free to reach out to us directly.
Once you’ve established a strategic plan of action, it’s now time to execute. Execution is important for businesses to get right, especially when trying to migrate customers who are also facing new and changing challenges. There are, however, ways for you to make this transition smoother.
- Incentivize Customers
Incentives are a great way to get your customers to adopt your new invoicing format – whether you hold a draw or offer some form of discount – it will go a long way to making the transition less stressful.
- Update Onboarding Materials
Address and explain electronic invoice presentment in all new customer onboarding documentation and advise that manual invoices will not be distributed.
- Don’t Make Customers Set-up Logins and Passwords
Simplify enrolment for your customers. We’ve found the number one barrier to e-adoption is the need to create some form of identification and passwords. Highlighting to your customers that this is not required will be a huge bonus, and you can expect to see a much higher adoption rate from them as a result.
Electronic billing is the first step
Implementing a fully digital invoicing process is a great step in establishing business continuity in today’s climate – but it’s only one aspect of accounts receivable. Enabling customers to easily pay, communicate, and collaborate online are all important aspects of managing cash flow and delivering customers a consistent experience.