Small Businesses Turn to Automation To Deal With Growing Late Payments Problem

While it’s certainly necessary, chasing down payments and corralling them has never been a glamourous job. But lately, a variety of factors has made the process less pleasant than ever.

Clearly, the function is ripe for automation — and companies of all sizes have been adopting platforms that will help them get paid by hook or crook at a growing clip.

For some, hiring full-time staff to take care of credit control doesn’t make sense. For others, employees have been overwhelmed by rising numbers of late payments during the pandemic — and traditional manual processes simply won’t cut it anymore. For others still, adoption is simply part of a larger strategy to digitize operations.

“Credit controllers are coming into these roles, they’re entry-level roles typically, that are done by very young people who sit down at their desks and think, ‘Hey, there’s got to be a better way to do this; this is way too manual,’” Chaser CEO Sonia Dorais told PYMNTS.

Chaser is a Platform-as-a-Service provider doing business in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. Dorais spoke with payments following the company’s integration last month with MYOB AccountRight and MYOB Essentials, an accounting system for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Australia and New Zealand.

Saving a Ton of Time

The Chaser platform is used by companies of all sizes, in any industry, but it’s currently seeing the fastest adoption among businesses with 100 employees or more, a larger annual turnover and a finance director or finance department already in place. They tend to already know what they want and have a sense of how automation is going to work for them.

“However, we have [SMB] clients who are over the moon with our products and providing testimonials and case studies, sending reviews and just saving a ton of time with Chaser,” Dorais said. “We had a customer recently state that she’s saving 15-plus hours a week using Chaser compared to what she used to do to perform her role.”

Chaser also helps with collections. This month, it shared in a tweet the example of a company that used Chaser to get 20,000 British pounds (about $26,000) of clients’ debts paid in 30 minutes. Chaser helps with this in two ways. First, an extension of the product is a debt-collection service that suggests when it’s time to escalate a case and enables the user to do so within the application. Second, Chaser provides a debt collection service (its mantra: “Polite persistence pays”), as well as a payment plan functionality.

“That’s really a win-win for most businesses because it enables the other business to maintain a more easy cash flow, and it also helps our client get paid and continue that positive relationship with their clients,” Dorais said. “That’s essentially our entire mission, making payments not uncomfortable.”

Reaching the People Who Need to Be Paying

The company performs collections via a combination of email and phone. It has pledged to add text features in January. With the shift to remote work, reaching people by digital means has become more important, since collectors can no longer reach them via the switchboard at an office.

“I know here in the U.K., there’s a huge push to get people back into an office space, but there’s also kind of a new shift in the mindset of employees and employers to have that kind of flexibility around work from home, etc.,” Dorais said. “That means we need to be creative on how we reach the people who need to be paying.”

Beyond chasing payments, Chaser now is an end-to-end accounts receivable (AR) platform. During 2021, the company has implemented all the different areas in which a credit controller or AR clerk would work. For example, the company has embedded payments, debt collection and credit checking.

“Our audience — the credit controller and the accounts receivable clerk — we want to help automate their entire function and have it all in a single platform,” Dorais said.