The Top 3 Ways to Humanize the AR Collections Process

The accounts receivable (AR) collections process is tricky. Not only does it require massive amounts of organization — it’s complicated by the delicate human element.

In my extensive experience working for enterprise-level companies, I’ve done everything: revenue recognition, billing, collections, order management, customer success, and more. This eclectic resume has allowed me to experience the entire business from the ground up, providing a unique perspective on the AR process.

Because it turns out, a successful AR collections process isn’t just about efficiency and optimization. It’s a place to build relationships and solidify customer trust. Here are my top three ways to humanize your AR collections process.

#1: Get to know your customers.

In AR collections, you can’t just be a debt collector. You need to call your customers, get to know them, develop a relationship, and ensure you’re talking with them, not at them.

Why? I see collections as just another arm of customer experience/success. If a customer doesn’t have a good experience with the collections team, they won’t want to do business with you any more. You’re just another flavor of the company — ensure that flavor is personal and friendly, not rude or antagonistic.

#2: Stay Flexible.

When getting to know your customers, you’re acknowledging their humanity and their challenges. Flexibility is crucial because (as we witnessed during the pandemic) everyone is going to encounter unexpected hardship. Flexible payment plans, extensions, and early payment discounts are all tools you need in your repertoire to ensure long-term customer loyalty.

During the pandemic, I encouraged my collectors to reach out a couple weeks before invoices were due so we could ask what we could do to help. Because when you’re honest, flexible, and empathetic, you’ll likely be the first vendor to receive payment even when a customer is tight on cash.

#3: Invest in automation.

While automation may strike some of you as the opposite of humane, it’s really not. In my last job, we had over a billion dollars in receivables and only five collectors. By automating smaller invoices, my collectors were free to focus on building relationships with bigger clients.

When automating invoices, replies, payments, and offering credit card options, you’re also respecting your smaller customers’ time. Other useful automation tools include portals that allow customers to log into an account and pay outstanding invoices — much like we do with utility bills. This is more convenient for customers, and your collections team can spend their time on higher-value tasks.

Implement these tips, and you can transform your AR collections team from scary debt collectors to kind, empathetic receivers of cash. And that will make all the difference for your customers.

Neva Jones
Director of Customer Success

About Gappify

Gappify, founded in 2016, is a cloud-based provider of accrual automation solutions for mid-market and enterprise accounting teams. The company is headquartered in New York City, with offices in Berkeley, California, Washington DC, and Manila, Philippines.

Its team consists of accountants and CPA’s from Big Four accounting firms and software innovators. Gappify is also supported by strategic advisors from some of the world’s most recognized technology companies and is affiliated with the top companies & accounting organizations.

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