Versapay study reveals alarming gaps in AR automation efforts

As many as three in four executives have concerns about how their accounts receivable (AR) department is functioning from the perspective of its focus on customers, a new report released by Versapay in collaboration with Wakefield Research has revealed.

“Most executives will agree that customer experience (CX) is among their top priorities for ensuring their business remains viable,” authors of the report note. “It’s a simple formula: happy customers will continue to buy from you, and unhappy customers will take their business elsewhere.”

In research for its report, entitled The State of Digitization in B2B Finance, Versapay, a developer of collaborative AR software headquartered in Toronto and Wakefield, surveyed 1,000 C-level executives at companies with a minimum of US$100 million in annual revenues.

Despite the fact that 89 per cent of respondents agreed that the “C-suite is only as good as its customers’ experience,” the findings revealed that most are not doing enough to “solve their self-proclaimed most pressing problem” when undertaking the digital transformation of an AR department.

“We found that businesses primarily focus on automating internal processes while ignoring what’s most important to them – delivering exceptional customer experiences,” the report states. “When the human element in accounts receivable is broken, it’s known as the AR Disconnect. And automation alone won’t bridge the resulting communications gap that stems from an inability to collaborate directly with customers.

“Humans work together best to solve invoice disputes, but the AR Disconnect only creates barriers that hinder natural, more meaningful connections between buyers and sellers. This harms customer relationships, and as the results show, impacts the bottom line.”

Other results revealed:

  • Nearly three in four executives (72 per cent) are at least somewhat concerned that their AR department is disconnected from and does not focus enough on customers.
  • Upwards of 44 per cent of executives see better communication with customers as a benefit of digitizing AR, yet 72 per cent claim that their AR department is not customer-oriented enough.
  • 92 per cent of executives agree that in order to reach peak performance, every department in their organization needs to digitize.
  • While cloud technology including AI and automation has been available for years, companies have continually prioritized it for other departments ahead of the AR department, 60 per cent of respondents said.
  • 82 per cent of executives said their company lost work due to miscommunication in the payment phase and 42 per cent stated that it has happened multiple times.
  • 47 per cent of chief experience officers (CXOs) say better communication with customers is a benefit of digitizing AR.
  • Most executives (73 per cent) recognize that the invoice-to-cash cycle is a frequent source of negative customer experiences. And yet, among the processes digitized by companies, online portals for collaboration and disputed resolution are prioritized last (35 per cent) compared to other AR improvements.

“AR digitization projects that focus solely on automation make use of only a fraction of the power of cloud technology,” authors of the report wrote. “True AR digital transformation on the other hand, leverages all of it.

“Businesses that forego true AR transformation in favour of basic automation miss out on a massive opportunity: Solving invoice disputes and payment issues while simultaneously improving customer experience.

“When people work efficiently together over the cloud, businesses can harness the genius of teams to solve real problems faster.”

The findings were based on an online survey conducted this year between Apr. 13 and Apr. 26.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in two specific areas: The creation of marketing communications content for businesses of varied size and scope, and freelance journalism. He has extensive experience as a reporter, feature writer and editor and has been covering technology-related issues for more than 30 years.

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