How Can Technology Improve Customer Satisfaction in Collections?
Provide a great experience and customers will buy more, be more loyal and share their delight with others. Every business strives for this but striking the right balance between technology and customer satisfaction remains an open question for many.
HighRadius joined CCR Magazine and senior Credit Risk Managers to discuss the benefits of getting this right.
What part does technology play in improving customer service?
Today’s collection teams are expected to improve their bottom line while providing strong customer service to retain and grow their client base. Collectors must ensure it is simple to locate and contact consumers and make it as easy as possible to pay, while simultaneously predicting any potential payment issues that might impact cash flow.
So how do collections teams leverage technology to strike the right balance?
Know Your Customers: Understanding How Different Demographics Prefer To Pay
Despite advancements in technology, it’s important to remember that from Baby Boomers to Gen Z, customers prefer different payment methods, and some of your most important customers will still prefer the human touch.
Millennials expect their interactions to be not only fast and easy but personalised. And they’re willing to pay more for this type of 1:1 experience.
Once you understand your customer’s contact preferences, you can leverage technology to support these interactions. For example, computer vision AI-powered bots can more easily understand the customer’s issue and provide clear and accurate instructions for self-service, enabling them to fix the problem themselves.
Even if a customer prefers human interaction to answer a query, technology can be optimised to reduce waiting times and manage calling queues before passing it over to an agent or customer services rep.
Predicting Customer Behaviour
When integrating technology into the collections process, teams need to be aware that not every customer can be treated the same, everyone will have their own needs and preferences.
A great example of AI in action is the ability to identify customers who are struggling with payments by tracking payment history and trends. This enables teams to identify any issues early on and work with customers to lessen the impact and develop ongoing relationships with clients.
Additionally, through the analysis of payment trends, collection strategies can be adjusted to reward customers who regularly pay early with discounts and offers.
Technology is also being used by the collections team to collect customer feedback. Several credit managers cited using automation to send 4-5 satisfaction questions once an interaction has taken place. The results can be used for training and areas of improvement.
Stay Open-Minded and Embrace Change
The role of the Credit Manager has changed significantly. They need to be involved in data quality, people management, legal and compliance, and billing – all of which have different systems, processes, and ways of doing things.
When embarking on new automation projects, several credit managers felt certain processes would be difficult to automate or impact, citing ‘this was the way it had always been done and we can’t change it.’
Working with a credible technology partner has helped to question the efficiency of these processes. For example, helping persuade clients to change their payment methods from paper-based inputs such as fax to mobile payments.
Other ways organisations are leveraging technology to improve customer satisfaction include:
The New Credit Manager
- Reducing call times / increased dispute resolution - AI-powered agents can potentially identify the reason for the call and predict the most accurate resolution, even making judgments based on a caller's tone. These emotions can be used to understand a customer’s experience with a company product, new tool, or interaction with a rep.
- Empowering customers through self-service – customers can check their balance, make payments, and even negotiate a settlement without the need to speak to anyone. Self-service portals ensure real-time presentment of invoices and payments.
- Increased efficiency and employee satisfaction – interactive dashboards keep teams up to date with crucial metrics that help make accurate decisions and give you the ability to drive change when needed.
Given the changing role of credit management, what does the next generation of credit managers look like?
The new credit manager needs to be adaptable, show a willingness to learn, and have strong customer service experience.
Soft skills are now more important than ever, and organisations are looking for candidates to demonstrate experience of empathy when solving complex problems.
Finding a Happy Medium
There is no doubt that technology has an important role to play in supporting the collections strategy and making contact channels more effective to increase customer satisfaction.
When it comes to empathy, flexibility, creative problem solving, and the ability to build trust, humans will always beat computers hands down.
On the flip side, there are many times when machines outperform humans; processing vast quantities of data at scale, accurately interpreting visual information, and performing repetitive, mundane tasks for long periods.
There will always be a place for both human and machine intelligence in successful o2c deployments, it's just a case of working together to find a happy medium.
“We had a global solution with efficiencies of one system which enabled integrated external reporting, automated credit scoring, credit monitoring and currency conversion for financial statements.” -
discover how TechData achieved 120% efficiency improvement within their credit department.