Every business owner knows that time is money. Getting all the essential tasks ticked off as efficiently and accurately as possible is what keeps your enterprise profitable and prosperous.
And as tech-savvy consumers’ demands grow, it’s your job to inspire loyalty by providing them with slick service that also protects their precious time.
When it comes to accepting fees and charges, a straightforward solution for all is to adopt an automated payments system. Streamlining and integrating, it will save time, money and hassle.
But what if you don’t feel the need to change? Manually processing invoices has been the bread and butter task of accounts departments across the world for centuries. They know their job, they do it well.
When you’re first starting out, this paper-based approach might adequately suit your needs. But as you scale and your client database expands, managing multiple invoices the traditional way will become a drain on both time and resources.
Here we share six benefits of switching to automated payments that will revolutionise your business operations and client offering. And not diminish the important role your expert financial team plays.
If you’re still relying on outdated methods to accept regular payments, you can easily get with the times by embracing a more convenient, reliable and secure system such as Direct Debit. Digital transformation that will future-proof your business while keeping pace with the competition.
1. Improved Accuracy
A survey of over 500 UK finance professionals revealed that 3.6% of manually processed invoices include an error caused by inaccurate data entry. We’re all human after all.
This may sound like a low number but compared to the exceptional accuracy of an automated payments system, it’s a gateway to confusing data, wasted time and jeopardised customer service.
Anyone who types or writes by hand is prone to making mistakes. While a spellcheck can correct words, a basic spreadsheet program won’t know if that 3 should have been a 4.
Untangling the subsequent mess needn’t be on your to do list anymore.
Automating regular payments means error rates will plummet. Instead, accurate figures can be shared across the business safe in the knowledge that they’re consistent and correct.
For example, set up a Direct Debit system for customers that’s overseen by a professional bureau and you’ll know exactly how much money to expect from clients. As an automated process, the margin for error here is minimal.
2. Greater Efficiency
Automation of any process will always deliver efficiency benefits that will ripple throughout an entire business.
Typically, an accounts team will spend their day poring over spreadsheets, checking and double-checking figures. It’s a valuable skill but can be monotonous and, as explained above, can lead to inaccuracies if eyes start to glaze over.
Switching to an automated payments system will relieve them of this time-draining task. Instead, their hours will be freed up to use their expertise in more productive and creative ways.
Presented with a clear overview of your business’ financial status, they can crunch those stats to solve problems and suggest ways to boost cashflow. Spreadsheet-free, they’ll have availability to attend training courses to benefit both them and your bottom line.
And they’ll be free to focus on customer service, excelling at building relationships rather than resolving awkward issues about inaccurate invoices or late payments.
While their work satisfaction grows, your business will grow too. Automation unlocks the door to scalability opportunities, making it a more exciting place to work for everyone.
3. Helpful Transparency
Choose automation and your accounts will always be up to date. You’ll have all the information you need to run your business’ finances right at your fingertips.
You’ll easily be able to extract the relevant data you need to monitor, giving you priceless control and transparency. This can be shared with team members, providing everyone with a timely and consistent overview of the current state of play.
Granular online detail, stored in the cloud for accessibility from anywhere, allows you to collate data into comprehensive reports, focusing on a specific department, client or employee.
Opt for Direct Debit to collect regular payments and if you sign up to FastPay, they’ll send daily email updates about all transactions.
This creates a digital trail of all payments received and alerts you to the rare occasions when an issue arises. You can simply log in and at a glance know exactly who’s paid, who hasn’t and whether you need to take any action.
Compare this to the work involved in organising and storing paper trails and it’s clear to see why so many businesses are making the switch.
4. Integrated Systems
As technological advances continue to march on, the opportunities they offer to streamline your operations also grow.
At the heart of this is integration: connected software and systems that speak to each other to supply consistency, transparency and clearer communications. A smooth-running network that boosts productivity and profitability across every corner of the business.
Powered by APIs (application programming interfaces) which allow two software applications to speak to each other, this functionality creates a seamless link between all essential platforms and indeed company departments.
Compared to manual processes where, for example, a paper invoice could simply get misplaced, the result here is effortless workflows that work in combination with each other.
Accounts payable automation simplifies steps such as checking to make sure billed amounts are correct and that all relevant parties are notified. This eliminates the need to chase down missing information and if there is a bump in the process road, you know exactly what’s causing it and how to fix it.
It also promotes greater collaboration between teams in real time, reduces invoice cycle length and gives everyone online access to data anytime from anywhere.
For example, FastPay’s Direct Debit system integrates with accounting platforms including Sage and Xero. And a bespoke API means it will work seamlessly with your own software.
Put simply, integration saves time by introducing a more sophisticated workflow, opening up a whole new world of digital possibilities for your business.
5. Reassuring Security
From premeditated fraud to natural disasters, the security of your financial data will always be at some level of risk. Taking steps to reduce that risk is vital.
Latest figures show that unauthorised financial fraud losses across payment cards, remote banking and cheques totalled £731.8m in 2017.
Despite being 5% lower than the previous year’s figure, falling foul of fraud is still a reality for many businesses. Automating how you accept regular payments can help to significantly reduce this risk.
Compared to paper, discrepancies are far less likely to go undetected due to increased visibility and transparency. And because your data will be stored on the cloud, there’s no chance of it vanishing via fire, flood or burglary.
When you introduce Direct Debit as a payment option, you can be reassured that in practice just 0.2% of transactions are subject to a refund, making it a very rare occurrence. Any fallout from potentially fraudulent activity will also be minimised thanks to the Direct Debit Guarantee.
This unique set of safeguards offers unrivalled security levels compared to other forms of payment, making Direct Debit the safest payment method in the UK.
The Direct Debit Guarantee wording is as follows:
- The Guarantee is offered by all banks and building societies that accept instructions to pay Direct Debits
- If there are any changes to the amount, date or frequency of your Direct Debit the organisation will notify you (normally 10 working days) in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed. If you request the organisation to collect a payment, confirmation of the amount and date will be given to you at the time of the request
- If an error is made in the payment of your Direct Debit, by the organisation or your bank or building society, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society
- If you receive a refund you are not entitled to, you must pay it back when the organisation asks you to
- You can cancel a Direct Debit at any time by simply contacting your bank or building society. Written confirmation may be required. Please also notify the organisation.
In addition, all organisations using the Direct Debit scheme, including bureaux such as FastPay, go through a careful vetting process before they're authorised.
They’re closely monitored by the banking industry, and the efficiency and security of Direct Debit is monitored and protected by your own bank or building society.
6. Better Customer Satisfaction
While your business is reaping all the great benefits of automation, your customers will also start to feel the positive effects.
Instead of having to reach for their bank card every time they receive an invoice, picking up the phone to your office or logging in to make the payment, it will all be taken care of.
With Direct Debit for instance, they simply need to complete a mandate with their bank details and they’ll be reassured that their payment will be taken accurately without them having to lift a finger. A convenient, secure method that gives them complete peace of mind.
With one less thing to do on their admin list, they’ll view you as a helpful company to deal with, spreading the word that you’re great to do business with.
Embracing technology and introducing an automated payments system will lay essential foundations for future growth thanks to improved productivity and profitability.