It was a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon in London. I was there on business. My boss – Carole Murphy – is a diehard Tottenham Hotspurs fan, and being the kind and considerate person she is, had insisted I go with her to see the game.
What does all this have to do with order-to-cash (O2C) I hear you say? I’m getting to that.
Overwhelmed by the never-ending line of train-proficient Brits streaming through the turnstiles of the London Underground with their Oyster cards, I took an Uber to Euston. I didn’t have an Oyster card or any other touchless way of paying, and I didn’t want the stress of being late by having to figure out the tickets, trains, and platforms. The traffic was terrible, but thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about paying with Uber – one tap in the mobile app and I was done.
I’d planned to meet Carole on the Victoria line platform and spent a stressful five minutes at a busy ticket machine queuing to buy a ticket with my debit card. I met Carole with literally 30 seconds to spare, and together we headed to Seven Sisters. In her 20 years as a Spurs fan, Carole has developed a highly impressive system of weaving her way through the crowds quickly. She ushered me onto the bus at Seven Sisters, but to my horror, again I couldn’t pay. The bus didn’t take debit cards, and I didn’t have a contactless credit card. Carole came to the rescue, leaving me feeling really embarrassed and just a little bit foolish.
The game was brilliant, and although Spurs only drew, I loved the stadium. Digital screens flashed with innovative advertisements on how to purchase goods and services via Bitcoin and other digital, cashless mechanisms. What a huge difference – I thought – between the UK and other countries when it comes to streamlining the payment process, driving cashless transactions, and eliminating legacy payment methods.
Adopting contactless payments
Today’s business world is all about the speed of transacting. While European markets have adopted solutions that move money digitally across banks and countries in seconds, North American companies are still struggling to phase out check payments from their business-to-business activities, and many organizations are resistant to extending credit card options due to the transaction fees.
However, the process of working with customers to adopt an electronic payment method can be challenging, as an organization’s payment process is typically designed around their own systems and policies. Even banks don’t make it easy to go electronic. I recently tried to send money from the US to the EU. It took a lengthy visit to the bank, two state issued IDs, and a considerable processing fee. I was told that I couldn’t set up a recurring wire, and every month I would have to repeat the process. I searched the web for alternatives, and instead signed up for a simple online payment transfer service, with a cool app to wire funds and set up regular transfers that arrive within a day. All this for a third of the fee the bank wanted to charge me to wire money in the traditional way.
The bottom line is, the greater the adoption of electronic payments, the more efficient an organization’s back office – just like travelers on the Tube that stream through the turnstiles with their Oyster cards. The more organizations focus on simplifying the process and rewarding customers for using electronic payment methods (ACH, debit, credit, and payment cards, etc.), the lower the cost of servicing and the better the customer experience and engagement.
There are lots of companies that are adopting new ways of taking payments – think Uber and Amazon. While organizations have figured out how to make it easier for their customers, we need to make more strides in the commercial space to improve the payment process. The next-generation of O2C processes needs to move cash from the payer to the recipient at speed, with simplicity and convenience, for the lowest fee possible. Touchless, contactless, instant wires, blockchain, WhatsApp payments … whatever moves the money faster to be banked, invested, used, and transferred further.
My journey to the Spurs game highlighted the importance of a friction-free process that eliminates manual effort and makes your customer experience simple and easy. My advice would be to future-proof your organization by getting your customers excited about the buying and payment experience.
The simpler you make it for your customers to pay, the more they will be willing to go along for the ride.
This article was co-written by Caroline Schneider and Aleksandra Giera.
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Caroline Schneider has been delivering and designing O2C solutions for clients for over 18 years. She is passionate about delivering solutions to clients to maximize their working capital through technology, automation, and industrialized process design.
Aleksandra Giera is credit-to-cash (C2C) subject matter expert and cash applications GPO, with 10 years of experience in C2C operations and technologies, supporting transformation initiatives across Capgemini engagement