Using the internet to pay bills and interact with companies is popular. With the demand for contactless communication brought on by COVID-19 and the change in consumer preferences, a trend that has been building for years (the use of digital engagement tools) is here to stay.
One study conducted last year shows that digital adoption rates are at an all time high. As other industries standardize the use of online payments, email and text communication options and other digital tools, consumers have begun to expect them from every business they come in contact with – including accounts receivable.
A Shift in Consumer Behaviors
Consumer behavior has been trending toward tech-based solutions long before the pandemic. Smartphones have replaced landlines, giving us all the ability to take calls, browse online and pay bills from anywhere.
As ecommerce websites and payment apps have shown people the convenient, frictionless experiences possible through technology, they will naturally wonder: why is your company so behind the times? A user experience (UX) design principle called Jakob’s Law explains this thought process pretty clearly. “ Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.”
This means that the best way to create a positive, customer-centric experience may be to look outside of your industry for inspiration. You’ll likely find that many companies offer options consumers want that could make interacting with your business easier. Consider features like online preference management, payment portals and digital engagement channels – email and text – for billing and other types of notifications.
Data Privacy and Security
However, there is a downside to the increase in digital engagement with consumers. Keeping all of these interactions (and the data shared within them) private and secure is becoming a challenge.
Clark Hill Senior attorney and Certified Information Privacy Professional, Leslie Bender, recently discussed HIPAA, privacy and the topic of cybersecurity. In the first quarter of 2020, data breaches and cyber security incidents grew by 273% as compared to the same time in 2019.
How PDCflow’s Suite of Services Can Help
PDCflow’s suite of services can help you meet these consumer expectations and reduce friction in your payment communications while keeping sensitive data secure. With PDCflow you can:
- Take multiple payment types and provide a wide variety of payment functions - PDCflow allows you to accept credit and HSA cards and ACH payments. You can also perform credits and adjustments, and produce auto reminders and receipts for consumers.
- Take payments across multiple channels - Not everyone pays the same way or has the same payment situation. PDCflow offers online portals, recurring schedules and electronic payments with signatures. You can also request electronic authorizations before transactions are processed so you can anticipate every consumer need.
- Change to fit your needs - On the back end, your company needs software that can scale and change according to your workflow needs. PDCflow offers unlimited templates, flexibility, customization, compliance, and integration options so the software can work with other AR tools.
- Provide necessary data - PDCflow provides reporting, segmentation, event tracking and custom notifications so you can monitor accounts and understand more about your consumers.
- Enhance communication - PDCflow offers email and text communication, customized templates and unlimited users to improve consumer communication and provide ease of use for your staff.
- Provide security - PCI and HIPAA compliance, along with dual authentication, audit trails, optional workflow restrictions, and tokenization all provide your business and consumers with security.
Integrating FLOW Technology into your daily operations can help you meet this new world of consumer expectations and behaviors while driving growth.
Digital Engagement With FLOW
FLOW Technology’s flexibility allows for many possible uses that benefit accounts receivable and speed up consumer payments. Here are some ways FLOW can work for you.
- Payment requests - Send payment requests, with or without a bill, statement, settlement letter, or any pdf document, collect a one-time payment and authorization all at the same time.
- Payment schedules with signed consent - Roll all your steps into one workflow when creating recurring payment schedules. With FLOW, there’s no need to send separate communications for authorization documents. All the necessary information and documents can be included within a single request.
- Reduced PCI scope and fraud prevention - through PDCflow’s software, you can choose to eliminate the need for your agents to ever key in payment information themselves. Simply send the request, and your consumers enter sensitive card data on their end – without it ever being stored in your system.
One client, extended business office Assitentcy, was experiencing several roadblocks trying to collect payments over the phone. Just a few causes of failed payment collections – and how PDCflow’s software helped – were:
- No immediate access to payment information. Consumers were routinely unable to access their credit card or bank account information on the call. This was causing agents to direct them to a website for payment or ask them to call back with the information and hope consumers would follow through. FLOW enabled agents to send a payment request through email or text message to consumers. This makes it simple to go directly to the payment, picking up where the phone conversation left off.
- Fear of fraud. With the increase in scams, consumers are naturally more weary of calls claiming they owe someone money. Call center agents asking about bills a consumer didn’t remember they owed, made them worry they were targets of a scam. Using PDCflow to send billing statements along with a payment request helped to legitimize Assistentcy’s image with consumers over the phone. This allowed consumers a chance to verify the amount and still kept payments.
- Consumer hesitant to pay by phone. Not everyone is comfortable reading their card number to a stranger over the phone. Many payments were getting lost because consumers wanted a more secure way to pay. Offering an option for consumers to key in their own payment information in a secure digital environment made those paying bills feel more confident their data was safe. FLOW also enabled agents to remain on the phone throughout these transactions to verify payments were completed.
The results of Assistentcy using FLOW Technology were clear.
- They were able to double their credit card payments.
- They were able to save time and money by reducing their calls to confirm, authorize, and track down payments.
- They were able to close the gaps between promised payments and actual payments.
- They built trust with consumers while providing them with convenience.
Another client, Accounts Receivable Management company Bayview Solutions, was looking for a way to speed up signatures, maintain compliance and reduce chargebacks. Here are some of the main problems they were facing and how PDCflow software helped.
Too many steps and too much time spent obtaining authorizations
Bayview was frustrated with the time that it took to staff to log into a separate program to send authorization requests for a payment or schedule. They were also looking to cut down on seeking authorizations through fax or traditional mail. The time spent was a heavy constraint.
With authorizations rolled into the payment schedule workflow within PDCflow’s system, this cut down on time and effort staff spent on back office processes. Also, sending these documents by email or text message rather than slower methods sped up how quickly a recurring payment plan could be implemented.
Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) Compliance
Accounts receivable businesses must comply with all types of industry regulations. In addition, taking payments electronically adds more compliance burden to business. Bayview was looking for a simple way to remain compliant with the EFTA’s Regulation E requirements.
With FLOW, Bayview is able to fully comply with Regulation E requirements without adding extra steps to their processes.
Bayview wanted chargeback protection. Often, AR companies are considered a higher risk business than some others, making it essential to protect your merchant account as best you can. Companies with high chargeback ratios may be subject to accounts getting shut off, which is a major disruption to business.
The client began using FLOW’s audit reports during chargeback disputes, which led to reduced numbers of chargebacks being claimed.
Bayview experienced a successful signature request return rate of 74% as well as witnessed a decrease in the number of reported chargebacks. Along with this the software erased compliance headaches for Bayview. Automating their processes with FLOW Technology helped Bayview save significant time and money.
Do you want to increase payments collected, reduce time spent following up on promised payments and more seamless compliance in your own business? For more information on FLOW Technology and how it can work for you, talk to an FLOW Tech expert today.