There is an old saying that goes: “The shoemaker’s children go barefoot.” Many CPA companies offer great advice to their clients on financial management, but are slow to respond to process changes that can improve business results. Manual billing and AR processes are recognized vulnerabilities for small and medium-sized businesses, and accounting firms are no exception.
B2B financial transactions, also for professional service companies, are increasingly being digitized.
Even before the pandemic, companies were concerned with slow check payment processes and the associated risk of fraud. A year later, with remote work operations now the norm, new cloud-based companies are rapidly adopting automated solutions for customer payment processing.
A recent study “Willingness to innovate for B2B payments “ The study conducted by Pymnts.com found that companies using automation in payments and AR management are quickly seeing business benefits. 87% of automated companies report improvements in process speed. Automating payment processing shortens the collection cycle and improves cash flow.
Customers have moved to the cloud. You want to pay in the cloud.
Businesses are increasingly preferring digital payment methods and will deal with the easy-to-pay invoices before receiving a paper invoice.
In the Pymnts.com study, 75% of companies said that automated features help them deliver superior customer experiences and increase customer satisfaction with a simple payment process. It’s much easier for your customer to make an online payment than it is to pay the old-fashioned way. If it’s easy, they can act faster and your company will be seen as a smart person “easy to do business with”. The convenience of paying by credit card gives your customers the payment option they prefer.
Another fintech study by Pymnts.com: “The B2B turning point,Reported that businesses’ biggest concerns about sending and receiving B2B payments were convenience and ease of use. Your first choice is usually ACH, followed by electronic transfers and credit cards. When a supplier or seller does not accept these payment methods, these companies typically resort to checks.
Many customers want to be able to pay by credit card. A Small business credit card Study of Visa/ AT Kearney indicates that almost 70% of small businesses use credit cards in a typical month. Buying routine supplies, services, and subscriptions on a credit card – why not accounting services? With an automated payment program, you can offer payments via MasterCard, Visa, ACH, American Express and Discover.
Automated payments fit the auditing firm’s strategy.
Businesses are challenged to evolve in these changing times. One thing is clear: cloud-based technology is essential, and the age of automation is here. By adopting technology and automation to support innovative customer support and advisory services (CAS), companies can reduce the time it takes to manage traditionally manual processes.
If your company adopts a new practice management system today, it is very likely that it is a cloud-based platform. The related accounting, tax, and auditing programs used by businesses are increasingly in the cloud, and every tax advisor knows that the IRS has been providing e-filing for 30 years. Automated, cloud-based payment processing is also best suited for companies that pursue a cloud strategy.
What to look for in an automated payment system:
- It is integrated into the company’s practice management system. The system should allow customers to pay the company through the application customer portal and an option to send the customer an email with a “Pay Now” link that the customer can use to pay online.
- It integrates with the company’s accounting software.
- It is save. Make sure that the financial payment processor – possibly a third party vendor – complies with the PCI standards required by credit card companies to keep the credit card safe Transactions in the payment industry.
- It supports the business model and billing of your company today and tomorrow. This can be an hourly billing. In this case, the time recording and billing functions in the practice management tool help track billable time and create invoices. It should also support flat rate billing used for value based services or custom project work. Finally, look for recurring payment features that automate regular recurring billing, such as: B. after a monthly retainer.
- It should be able to handle the payment methods companies have already defined as preferred means: ACH, money transfers, e-checks, and credit cards.
With an online payment solution, your customers can securely pay invoices quickly and easily instead of having to process and send a paper check. More importantly, online payment technology allows you to automatically offer recurring payments to support new retainer-based and project-based business models. This relatively simple change is an important consideration to set your business apart.
Nicole Fluty is Product Manager for OfficeTools at AbacusNext and has more than a decade of experience with OfficeTools. She directs and manages rollouts for new features and quarterly public updates made available to thousands of users. Fluty travels the country meeting with accountants to better understand their challenges and come up with practical solutions.