7 in 10 CFOs Rely on Automated Customer Services to Cut Payment Delays


Businesses looking to automate their accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) piecemeal may want to start with their customer support.

Payment delays have plagued businesses since time immemorial, particularly in certain sectors such as construction. However, firms that have not yet substantially automated their AR systems may be putting themselves even further behind. Legacy methods such as manual input are the main cause of delayed payments and still consume an average of 17 personnel hours each week.

However, certain automation technologies may help move payments along. Different technologies’ usefulness in payment delay reduction was examined in “Accounts Receivable Automation Smooths Order-to-Cash Continuum,” a PYMNTS and Corcentric collaboration. In this survey of firms with annual revenues exceeding $250 million, the top technology for this challenge was automated customer service, cited by 72% of company chief financial officers (CFOs). This represents a much higher share than other automated options, which included payment integration, invoice management software or integration of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

Kicking payment delays to the curbAutomated customer service tools cover a wide range of technologies, from automatic follow-up emails, FAQs or knowledge bases and AI-driven chatbots.

“Across all industries, the lack of skilled workers is cited as an impediment to business growth, something that becomes especially acute as innovations in technology require a different workforce,” PYMNTS’ Karen Webster wrote in January.

“Of course, AI and machine learning are already taking on the more manual and mundane tasks across many payments, banking and financial activities. It is used to combat fraud, underwrite credit, and manage payables and receivables and cash flow, all with better and more precise outcomes. Those outcomes will get smarter, and those use cases will expand.”

The AI-driven chatbots are garnering the most headlines these days. Some of the biggest firms are leading the technology’s integration, including J.P. Morgan Chase, the world’s largest bank by market capitalization. Eager to explore the technology’s ability to provide value, the bank appears (per a June patent filing) to be developing an AI platform that can determine “dissatisfaction data” in real time during customer service interactions using machine learning capabilities.

Seeking automated solutions for AR processes can be overwhelming for businesses of any size or sector, no matter how necessary they may be to fully compete in today’s digitized landscape. One piece at a time may help ease these firms’ automation integration headaches and, depending on need, automated customer service tech could be best served going first.