How to Improve the Payment Approval Authorization Process

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Customer relationship management (CRM) is a management concept which stresses customer satisfaction as a main driver to increased profitability. It can be attached to data entry, delivery options, or phone hours. For some customers loyalty might be a function of speed and efficiency in the payment approval authorization process. Still, with all the advances in technology, it is not uncommon for people to wait 3 to 5 days for accounts to clear. This is particularly true of products and services which require a "hold" period.

  • Create a flow chart of your current payment approval authorization process. The order should start with the customer and finish when the payment is actually made (including receivables if applicable). A flow chart is a visual representation of a process which uses circles, rectangles, and squares to show how a process flows from end to end.

  • Assign a length of time to each major step in the payment process. Quantify the amount of time spent on each major area in the process.

  • Identify who has ownership for these areas. External accountability belongs to the parts of the process which are not in your control. You will need to contact the external provider to request a change in these cases. Internal accountability belongs to those parts of the process which are in your control to change.

  • Focus improving those parts of the process which are in your control. Do a gap analysis by comparing the current payment process (as shown on the flow chart) with the faster payment process. Look for repeated steps or areas to improve the process by speeding it up or lowering its cost structure. Try automating (replacing labor with technology) certain functions. Have your business analysts to make suggestions on better program applications. Even if you don't purchase the plan, the sales presentations will provide a learning opportunity.

  • Look for opportunities to integrate with other functions. The goal is minimal customer intervention; that is, focus on making improvements from the customer's perspective. Use "time elapsed between customer payment request and customer authorization" as a measure to assess the performance of your service provider on the payment process.

  • Continue to analyze and refine the process from end-to-end. Consider providing an incentive for automatic bill payment.

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