What a business does in the earliest days and weeks of its relationship with a customer really matters.
Every action or initiative an organization takes during this period to understand a customer, serve them and meet or exceed expectations is critical. Indeed, it lays the foundation for how the brand and that new (or existing) customer will interact and experience moments of truth across a whole range of touchpoints across the organization.
Most of the time, the business processes during this period — from customer onboarding to order management, billing and collections to reconciliation and reporting, and all the activities in between — are referred to as “Order-To-Cash” (O2C). But it makes much more sense to call them “Customer-To-Cash” (C2C).
Why? Because these processes are really all about the customer!
Yes, improving Order-To-Cash is about reducing days sales outstanding (DSO), arresting revenue leakage and timely and accurate management of deductions and disputes. All these outcomes are critically important. But getting Customer-To-Cash (C2C) right is about so much more!
Cash Is Critical, But So Is CX
When a business makes a sale, a relationship is established with an actual customer, not an order.
Yes, each new sales order needs to be converted into cash effectively, and with speed. But securing the cash is only the near-term goal. The bigger, longer-term and — ultimately the more profitable objective — is securing and strengthening the brand’s seamless relationship with their customers.
It typically costs about five times more to acquire a customer than it does to retain and enrich them. That makes early-stage interactions with new customers even more important. Why? Because the quality of those interactions will increase the likelihood of that customer becoming a repeat customer. And repeat customers mean more revenue at reduced acquisition cost.
Optimizing each and every part of the Customer-To-Cash (C2C) process will mean:
- Better experiences (for a customer) — Digitized operations and end-to-end customer management improve customer experience and maximize customer value.
- Improved decision making (that benefits a customer) — When management has better visibility into performance, business decisions are more informed and interactions are optimized across the revenue cycle.
- Streamlined operating results (that better serve a customer) — Deep functional and industry experience is central to redesigning processes and establishing cost-efficient, digital and continuously improving operations.
- Optimized working capital (which can be reinvested to bring more value to a customer) — Greater debt collection efficiency, reduced delinquency rates and charge-offs, improved operational efficiencies with fewer manual interventions and arresting revenue leakage make for greatly improved working capital management.
Streamlined, customer-centric Order-To-Cash (O2C) — or rather “Customer-to-Cash” (C2C) — processes drive both customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, thereby maximizing profitable growth.
Delivering Success with C2C
Most customer-centric companies these days use domain expertise, process excellence and technology innovation to address the following challenges. Here are some of the actions they take to get results at each step of the C2C cycle along the way.
1. Order Entry and Management
- Improve workflows by adopting a customer order portal
- Digitize order documents by leveraging optical character recognition (OCR)
- Enable end-to-end data integration with CRM along with an AI chatbot for customer service that continually learns from each interaction
- Deliver real-time customer credit analysis by using a business intelligence dashboard for viewing credit exposure
3. Invoicing and Payment
- Automate e-invoices to support new business models
- Establish a customer portal for viewing invoices and posting payments
- Automate validation for invoice data
- Enable a chatbot for customer service
4. Collections and Disputes
- Drive insights by adopting smart collections based on predicted delinquency
- Enable an enhanced treatment strategy to improve collections
- Provide AI-enabled forecasting of bad debt expense by creating an automated dispute database
5. Cash Applications
- Deploy automatic transaction-payment applications
- Adopt a dashboard for tracking cash app metrics and trends
- Embrace a business intelligence dashboard with a holistic view of AR metrics to examine specific metrics and review issues
- Enable AI-based cash flow forecasting and automated report generation
Ultimately, whether we call it “Order-to-Cash” or “Customer-to-Cash,” the end-to-end process is all about improving customer outcomes. And it’s about delivering those outcomes in a way that empowers the brand — even in the midst of uncertainty, economic volatility or business model transformation.
Want to learn more about how to transform your Order-To-Cash business to a Customer-To-Cash business? Let’s talk.
 Forrester, Rethinking customer loyalty. https://www.forrester.com/what-it-means/ep04-rethinking-customer-loyalty