No matter how efficient your A/R collections process is or how effective your communications are, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll have disputes. A human-centered approach to disputes in accounts receivables, with the right technological tools, can both accelerate dispute management and improve your company’s cash flow. At the same time, it can also deliver customers an exceptional experience that leads them to becoming satisfied and loyal customers.
The Significance of Humanizing Dispute Management
As your company grows and your collections team is faced with increasing numbers of outstanding or overdue invoices, listening to the same disputes repeatedly can become monotonous. It can be easy for your collections teams to become desensitized to the needs of your customers and lack the proper empathy needed to find the best solutions to customer disputes.
With a streamlined process for collections, however, you can ensure that your responses to each type of dispute are optimized according to each specific situation. You’ll also gain a deeper insight to the complexities involved in each dispute, with the understanding that each dispute demands a different approach. For example, if a customer disputes the amount of the invoice, it could be due to a number of factors. An A/R invoice-to-cash management platform can allow a collector to further categorize a dispute about an incorrect invoice based on different factors: unauthorized changes in the invoices, lack of communication regarding the invoice, disputed taxes or fees on the invoice, or disputed late fees or penalties, etc.
Instead of one collection team member trying to do its best to determine whether each individual dispute is valid and the correct response necessary, your collections teams will have the resources of data and analysis from customers with similar disputes and technology that gives you insight based on this data. For instance, collectors might see that in the past, minimizing or canceling the late fees or penalties on the invoices helped to solve the dispute more quickly. Or you might determine that disputes about taxes are due to mistakes from the accounting team, who didn’t realize in which country the company was based, and calculated the taxes incorrectly.
Key Elements of Human-Centered Dispute Management
While it may seem counterintuitive that technology adds a human element to dispute management, it can use its data and analysis capabilities to quickly optimize your team’s response to each dispute – a job that can become tedious for collectors to complete manually. Technology such as an automated A/R management platform can also free up your collections team to focus on other tasks and develop stronger relationships with your customers.
An A/R invoice-to-cash platform also helps facilitate the human element of dispute management if it can:
- Ensure continuous communication between your customer and A/R team. Having a centralized place for all of your customer’s invoices, information,and payment history allows each member of your A/R team to understand the details of the customer dispute so that they can manage it properly.
- Segmenting and personalizing communication with workflows Clear and more personalized dunning workflows help remove ambiguity and mitigate questions and disputes.
- Developing a strategy for dispute resolution. You’ll need your entire team to be on the same page on how they classify disputes and respond to each type of dispute. This can be complex as many of the same types of disputes (e.g. invoices amount) occur for many different reasons.
- A streamlined approach to dispute management. An automated A/R invoice-to-cash platform can automatically detect the best accounts receivable resolution for each dispute, freeing up your collections team to spend time on other important tasks that demand human involvement.
Crafting a Dispute Management Strategy
One of the first steps in developing a dispute management strategy is to first use the A/R data to understand the different types of disputes that your collections department faces. Once you do this, you may find that certain patterns emerge. You might see clearly, for example, that the majority of your disputes occur due to incorrect pricing details, and adopt a policy in your A/R department that your team checks the pricing with a manager before the creation of each dunning workflow. Or your team may see that customers complain about the delivery date of a service or product, and you can share this information with your sales team so that they better manage their customer expectations from as early as possible in the customer onboarding process.
With these insights, your A/R team can then develop customized workflows for different customer segments. When implemented correctly, workflows proactively and clearly communicate with these different customer segments to minimize customer disputes as much as possible from the earliest point in the customer experience. With an invoice-to-cash A/R management platform, A/R teams deliver these workflows automatically to hundreds or even thousands of customers, helping to preserve the human element necessary in dispute management while at the same time eliminating manual processes that are prone to human error. These manual processes also consume valuable resources that could be used for other core tasks.
The Role of Technology in Humanized Dispute Management
Although it may seem counterintuitive, technology can play a key role in humanizing dispute management in accounts receivable. One of the key steps in understanding and empathizing with a customer dispute is to have accurate information about the cause of the dispute. Instead of having dispute communication in different channels such as emails, phone conversations, written memos, and ERPs, technology can aggregate all dispute communication into a central point. This ensures that the information is visible to your entire A/R team, in addition to other parts of your business which overlap with A/R such as sales and marketing, warehousing, customer service, operations and of course, finance and accounting.
Dispute management solutions should:
- Automatically prioritize and alert businesses of customer disputes. This allows your team to start assessing and managing disputes as early as possible and directs it to the proper team member responsible for that dispute.
- Enable proper filtering and searching for disputes. The ability to filter and search for disputes using an A/R invoice-to-cash system is crucial to understand which disputes are being handled and which still need to be resolved. With Gaviti’s A/R invoice-to-cash management platform, you can also filter and view invoices according to each customer, the number of disputes, or as an aggregated view of all invoices.
- Deliver accurate details of the dispute and A/R process across the entire team. This should include the details of the SLA, such as the invoice amount, Proof of Delivery (PoD), Purchase Orders (PO), Bill of Lading (BoD), or tax invoices, etc. Without access to this information it will be difficult for your team to understand the nature of the dispute and decide which action to take.
- Facilitate better communications between the A/R team and the rest of the business. Enabling each team member of A/R as well as other departments such as warehousing and sales to have the same access to customer information such as payment, history and invoices allows the business to make better decisions.
- Support a process for deductions. Disputes often lead to deductions. Technology should enable a process for verifying and investigating earned or claims deductions as part of a streamlined process for A/R collections.
How Gaviti Helps You Manage Customer Disputes
Gaviti helps your A/R team humanize the dispute management process by streamlining it so that disputes can be assessed and resolved quickly. It centralizes customer payment information, allowing you to quickly sort customer invoices according to date, customer types, industry, payment due date, and customer risk. This gives not only your A/R team more visibility over the dispute and collections process, but it delivers visibility to any other department that needs the information, so that your entire organization has the data and insights it needs. Gaviti’s invoice-to-cash A/R management platform also enables teams to deliver customized workflows to different customer segments to minimize disputes from the start of the customer relationship, eliminating the human error involved with the traditionally manual process this entails. In addition, the platform allows for teams to use the data and insights they have at their fingertips to work together to make better decisions, resolve disputes faster, and accelerate your company’s cash flow.
Want to learn more about how Gaviti can help humanize your dispute management, accelerating resolutions in your accounts receivable and enhancing customer experience? Contact us for more information and book your demo today.