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For Everything, There is a Season: Review your invoice design

Now in an age where world class payment processes include automated data extraction, the days of the detachable payment coupon may be over.

A time certainly existed where the detachable “cut here and return with your payment” coupon served a valuable purpose. It allowed accounts payable departments to keep a record of payment in their files (top portion) and informed vendors what they were paying by including the payment coupon in the envelope with their check payments. From a manual cash application perspective, the coupon served as a useful and familiar document that was always legible (never handwritten) and was a vital component in the cash application process for many years.

These days, accounts payable departments – even for small businesses – are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Clerks are entering invoices into payables systems that handle both check and remittance cutting, and the process surrounding the payment coupon becomes a bit confusing. For example, some clerks are unsure of what vendors need in terms of coupon data, so they send both the payment coupon and the remittance generated by the payables system. This causes the automated payment process to stop and adds a manual step in the process. A clerk now must add the payment coupon to the check and remittance that the payables system has just generated. Then, when the vendor receives the check, automated extraction systems read both instances of the payment and “double up” the remittance amount. This causes automation to stop, causing manual intervention.

The payment coupon, one of Billtrust’s product features, combats this issue by stopping both the error-inducing automated payment process and the automated application process. No more “double-ups.”

As a consultant, this is my rally cry to stop the unnecessary manual work caused by payment coupons. Remove them from your invoice designs. Not only will you end manual work, you will gain valuable real estate on your invoice template. For vendors with multi-page invoices, this gain on the invoice template can result in significant savings in postage costs.

In short, please take a look at your invoice design and consider sending your payment coupon down the path of the rotary telephone, the floppy disc, and obsolete parachute pants.

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