Cash flow is critical to any business, and for law firms, growing the bottom line is always a concern. With profits under pressure across the legal industry, improving the invoice payment cycle and streamlining the payment process are more important than ever.
Many law firms are looking to their accounts receivable (A/R) departments for ways to increase their finances, in particular with improving cash flow through a more efficient invoice-to-cash process. However, firms will struggle to collect on invoices and bolster cash flow if they still rely on paper-based invoicing and payment processes. To strengthen cash collection efforts and keep cash flowing, technology and automation are key.
I had a discussion with A/R experts at two law firms that have turned to technology and automation as a way to improve their invoice-to-cash process, increase the amount of cash on hand, and more easily adjust to industry changes.
Benefits of Embracing Technology and Automation
Get paid faster
Linda Junco, an accountant with Eckberg Lammers, found that one way to do this is embedding a payment page into the firm’s website, which allows clients to pay their bills online anytime that works for them.
“With the simplicity of going online and paying on our website, we get paid at the clients’ convenience,” Junco said. “They can go online on weekends or evenings, whereas before they had to call us between 8 and 5 just so we could take their credit card information. Now that it’s online, I see clients pay at 10 or 11 at night when they’re doing their bookwork. It’s especially convenient now when people aren’t using checks all the time.”
Embedding the LexisNexis® Juris® and ClientPay® option in your payment process bridges technology with client service. Giving clients the ability to choose ClientPay® allows them to pay their invoice later while you receive your payment within two business days of invoice approval. For clients, embedded technology makes paying invoices as simple as clicking a button.
Strengthen client relationships
Paying bills can be a time-consuming and tedious process—you probably won’t find anyone who enjoys paying invoices. By offering your clients a quick and painless payment process, you’ll help reduce their frustrations and foster stronger client relationships.
As Linda Junco mentioned above, paying online is one option. But having technology-driven options to pay via website, credit card, phone, online check, bank ACH, or ClientPay® makes it easy for clients to pay their invoices through their preferred option and move on to their next task.
Before Linda’s firm implemented online payment options, she continually played phone tag with clients when they wanted to pay by credit card.
“Now, when people call and tell me, ‘Go ahead and pay on my credit card,’ I pull up their name, hit enter, put in a dollar amount, and we’re done,” Junco said. “Even conversations with clients are shorter. They don’t have to give me their address or credit card number because I have it all already.”
Collect payments more securely
By implementing payment technology, Cindy Bouve, finance manager at Hamilton Stephens Steel + Martin, was able to meet the strictest of standards set by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI) for accepting credit cards as payment and storing card data.
“From a security standpoint, I feel much better knowing that we can accept credit card payments without having to manually store the credit card data ourselves, thanks to today’s payment technology,” Bouve said. “This makes payments a much safer transaction. We have a responsibility to protect our clients and their data even when they don’t know they need protecting!”
Bouve uses Juris technology to drive efficiencies, including exporting invoices in batches to the legal assistants who send their attorneys’ invoices.
“Going paperless was really great,” she said. “We previously printed paper invoices and gave them to the legal assistants, who would then scan and email them to clients. With the batch exporting feature in Juris, our billing efficiency has increased—being able to grab PDF invoices out of an exported folder and email them right away has been a tremendous efficiency gain for the firm, not just for the accounting department.”
Embracing technology has enabled her to improve efficiencies firm-wide, and Bouve says the impact of investing in and implementing technology is invaluable.
“When you have one success and it helps the firm move forward, firm leaders place more trust in you and the future solutions you suggest to make improvements,” she said.
With all the challenges law firms face in today’s market, from battling the effects of COVID-19 to offering more convenience, firm leaders need all the help they can get. By embracing technology and making the most of its features, A/R professionals can support their firms by improving efficiencies and increasing cost savings.
It’s time to leave paper-based processes behind.
For more information on how firms can strengthen their invoice-to-cash process, download the eBook, Embracing Technology to Streamline the Collections Process.