PART 1 – Achieving a World-Class Billing Experience in an Impersonal Staffing Market
For much of my early career in sales, I was tasked with selling services to some of the largest, most successful staffing firms in North America. In order to be effective, I spent much of my time learning about the challenges that staffing firm employees face daily; from front-line recruiters to executives.
Most financial leaders within large staffing agree that cash flow is the best way to measure the health of a firm. As staffing firms grow, their operational challenges related to cash tend to become larger and more diverse. As such, the technology supporting day-to-day activities needs to accommodate more complex customer billing and payment demands.
As any industry veteran will tell you, the industry is highly commoditized. Instead of selling services and developing personal relationships, the popularity of the VMS (vendor management system) within the Fortune 1,000 has resulted in a shift to product-focused sales.
Many staffing leaders have complained to me over the years about the slow departure of the personal relationship between the staffing account manager and hiring manager in favor of a cold, calculated submission of candidate skills to an online portal.
How can any firm differentiate itself from the pack when personal relationships don’t exist? It’s a sheer volume game. The person who submits the most volume is bound to win more than the rest. And in the meantime, everyone is diminished to the lowest common denominator: the resume. This is not an article lamenting the rise of VMS automation. I’ll leave that to others. Instead, I’m suggesting that there are ways for mid-to-large staffing companies to leverage technology to stand out from the crowd in two dimensions: cash flow and customer experience.
While automation has taken over a large piece of the firm-to-candidate customer life-cycle it hasn’t been leveraged to complete the rest of the revenue lifecycle. In many cases, weekly billing cycles have become the most frequent touch points between staffing firms and their larger customers, and yet that communication leaves a lot to be desired. Instead of a streamlined and focused customer experience, it’s full of slow, manual, and frustratingly inaccurate interactions.
The time has come for staffing firms to focus on streamlining the back-end of the order-to-cash process with an eye toward improving firm financials AND customer experience. In order to effectively do this, each firm needs to take a segmented approach to strategy. Ask any employee in an AR department at a mid-sized staffing company, and they will tell you that getting an invoice paid from a Fortune 1,000 takes a completely different accounts receivable (AR) workflow than does a small business customer. If your firm is going to successfully optimize your invoice-to-cash process, the technology you use needs to accommodate all types of customers and their varied invoicing and payment needs.
Check out Part 2 of Justin’s blog series: Understanding the Impact of Technology on Customer Experience for Staffing Firms.
Article by Justin Main, Regional Sales Executive [email protected]