The payments industry has been a latecomer to the financial technology revolution. Many companies still use legacy accounts receivable (AR) processes marked by an overwhelming reliance on manual procedures. Now, the industry is at a crossroads, facing a technological advancement that promises to leave no sector untouched: artificial intelligence (AI). The technology’s potential benefits read like an AR team’s wish list — and the reality is not far off.
AR is the lifeblood of any company. But for too many, economic pressures threaten its flow, elevating AR teams to the top of organizations’ priority lists. While AI is not without risk and must be understood and implemented with care, the upside of AI adoption for AR is increasingly difficult to deny.
In this edition of the “Working Capital Tracker®,” we zoom in on how AI can help AR teams ease pain points so companies can thrive amid economic uncertainty.
Manual processing of AR tasks continues to create payment bottlenecks, with 40% of finance professionals pointing to manual processes as the biggest challenge inhibiting collection. By automating tasks in the order-to-cash process, AI can increase their speed and efficiency, taking the first step in helping organizations achieve a healthy bottom line. Companies can also increase AR teams’ productivity by off-loading routine and labor-intensive tasks to AI, such as data entry, compliance checks, invoice processing and collections, freeing human workers to pursue higher-value endeavors.
Making it easier for customers to pay is the first step in ensuring swift payment. AI-enabled virtual assistants and chatbots offer a 24/7 self-service tool, allowing customers to access their transaction histories and make requests or file disputes. In the case of AR disputes contributing to payment delays, AI can accelerate resolution cycle time by identifying and assigning reason codes to each dispute and approving reductions automatically based on predefined criteria.
AI’s ability to collect and draw upon vast reserves of customer data makes it a superior tool for creating tailored experiences for each customer. With generative AI, companies can customize customer communication plans, building better relationships to facilitate swifter payments. AI can also help companies increase customer retention by allowing AR teams to focus on providing the best quality of service to each customer.
One of the hallmarks of AI systems is their unique ability to draw information from a wide variety of sources and process large quantities of data, on which companies increasingly depend to formulate winning business strategies. By mining this data trove, AI can assist businesses in unearthing trends, patterns and relationships that can inform better decision-making optimally in real time.
AI can also help predict outcomes for better collection strategies. By analyzing customer transactions, credit history and other financial data, AI can identify customers at risk of defaulting and help proactively create payment plans for them. It can aid in forecasting cash flow and model how procedure changes will affect the probability of getting paid by predicting invoice payment dates.
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