When Customer Service Errors Impact Billing And Collections

billing and collections

When there’s an error in order entry, it can wreak havoc on your billing and collections team. If one of your customer service representatives makes a mistake, it can disrupt your supply chain, increase returns and complaints, and delay payment. Although customer service may seem a world away from accounts receivable, your organization needs them to work together like a well-oiled machine. Eliminating manual errors at the order step will eliminate unnecessary complications in getting paid.

A miss-entered order creates a cascade of effects on the supply chain:

  • Incorrect tax
  • Incorrect shipping address
  • Wrong material numbers
  • Validation discrepancies

These problems can snowball if they’re not identified early in the fulfillment process, creating potential conflicts with state revenue and regulatory agencies and weak spots in inventory management.

Incorrect order entry has immediate, unpleasant effects on your customers. Not only will you see an increase in returns, with the associated costs of shipping and re-stocking, but your brand reputation will suffer. Dissatisfied customers will be quick to offer negative feedback and reviews, which may dampen future sales. Goods shipped in error may never sell, creating a backlog of waste that must be stored or disposed of. Re-shipping corrected orders increases your costs and creates delays for your customers.

A mistake in order entry doesn’t just annoy customers and jam up your supply chain, it creates problems with payment. Your invoicing process depends on the validity of billing addresses, contact information and credit card/purchase order/account numbers. If these are entered manually and incorrectly, you may not be able to collect payment on your order.

Even if your accounts receivable team is in a different city than your customer service team, you need an integrated, automated system that prevents manual entry errors and allows you to track the progress of an order from start to finish. Such an Order To Cash (OTC) system has 8 primary components, each of which can be customized to fit your organization’s needs.

  1. Order Management.
    This module allows customers to place orders through a variety of channels (fax, email, online catalog, etc) into a single queue for processing, eliminating duplicates or order loss.
  2. Credit Management.
    A robust credit-checking protocol allows you to check customers’ credit as orders are placed as well as when they ship, protecting your business against fraud and lost revenue.
  3. Order Processing.
    Once orders are received and queue, your team can rely on automated processes to identify duplicates, flag discrepancies and validate product, quantity, address and payment before shipping.
  4. Shipping/Fulfillment.
    This component validates item numbers against your inventory systems, ensuring agile stocking and logistics and accurate reconciliation.
  5. Invoicing.
    Instead of the time-consuming, error-prone process of manual invoicing, a robust OTC system allows customers to receive invoices on paper or online including electronic signatures and built-in compliance with international payment regulations.
  6. Accounts Receivable.
    Following payment, your OTC system will place an entry automatically in the general ledger.
  7. Collections.
    Detailed order tracking allows you to customize your collections practices on aging accounts depending on your relationship with the customer. You can use different contact strategies for specific groups of accounts and tailor your outreach to individual customers.
  8. Reporting.
    This component gives you the capacity to collect and analyze data from all OTC components using a variety of pre-populated and customized reports.

If manual orders are creating problems across your supply chain and revenue cycles, your organization may benefit from automating these processes using an OTC system.  Are you ready to learn more about the specifics of these systems and how they can support your business? Let us know, and we’ll work with you to design a customized, flexible solution that meets your organization’s needs.

Kasey Schmitz

Kasey is a Senior Marketing Manager at Esker, and oversees Esker's lead generation, demand generation and database teams.

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