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Four Ways CPG A/R Leaders Can Drive Exceptional Customer Experience in 2022

Insights from a Customer Finance Director

Mike Thelen, Director, Customer Financial Services, Land O’Lakes Mike believes that today’s B2B (business-to-business) buyers are demanding a buying experience similar to what the world’s leading B2C (business-to-consumer) brands are delivering to their customers. Customers worldwide have grown accustomed to the customer-centric experience that companies like Amazon or Netflix provide. It is only reasonable to believe that they are looking for the same level of experience from B2B companies. Every finance executive wants to retain their customers and continue doing business with them in this period of economic uncertainty. The best way to achieve that is by delivering an exceptional customer experience. And with A/R being a customer-facing function, leaders can leverage the opportunity to strengthen cash flow. High Radius discussed the topic with Mike Thelen, Director of Customer Financial Services at Land O’Lakes. We identified four critical areas that A/R leaders in the CPG industry could work on with their teams to ensure their customers receive nothing short of an exceptional experience:

1. Making Customer Experience a Mandate for A/R Teams

Most A/R teams in the CPG Industry don’t have customer experience as one of their KPIs, so they deprioritize it. Instead, they believe it is something that forward-looking functions such as sales and marketing need to worry about.

Right from submitting a credit application to making payments and resolving deductions, there are multiple points when the customer is directly in touch with the A/R department. How the team handles situations that directly involve customers impacts their experience and can make or break a potential long-term business relationship.

 83% A/R leaders predict customer experience as a major factor in driving growth for revenue & market share

A/R leaders should provide organizational incentives to their teams for ensuring a good customer experience. They should effectively communicate the importance of customer satisfaction across the organization and hold their teams accountable for improving customer service.

2. Understanding the customer’s needs to deliver better service to them

All customers are different, and the same billing, collections, and payments strategies don’t work for everyone. A/R executives must ensure their team spends sufficient time understanding customer expectations. They can then create targeted strategies for each customer segment to deliver exemplary service.

Implement targeted strategies for each customer segment

Realizing customer needs will help the A/R teams to reach a settlement that keeps both the business and the customer’s interests in consideration. This would ensure the team can create healthier relationships with customers and do business with them for longer. Listed below are a few questions A/R teams should ask to deliver a better experience: 

Questions A/R teams should ask to deliver a better experience

3. Providing Team with Real-Time Visibility into Customer Feedback

There might be several occasions where the team is not able to meet customer expectations. This makes it critical to receive customer feedback and share it with the team in real-time to make course corrections accordingly. 

For instance, a CPG-company customer raises a dispute claiming the shipment they received has some goods missing. Having this visibility in real-time will enable the team to perform a root-cause analysis using the available data and make well-informed decisions to resolve the claim faster. 

Real-time visibility will help in making well-informed decisions to resolve the claim faster

Improving customer experience is not a one-time activity – it is a continuous, long-term process. Therefore, a/R leaders must adopt a centralized system that enables a 360-degree view of customer performance across the teams. Doing so would eliminate silos and ensure there is information flowing across teams so they can proactively work on customer feedback to the customer retention rate.

4. Digitally Enabling the Customers Along With the A/R Team

A/R leaders should have digitization as one of their top priorities in 2022. It is imperative to empower the teams with technology that allows them to drive exceptional customer experience. Based on the insights gathered from Mike Thelen, below are five ways automation helps improve customer experience in A/R:

  • It allows A/R teams to predict order holds based on customer payment history and credit usage. This allows teams to take proactive actions to prevent them.
  • It ensures that collection teams don’t make unnecessary collection calls by leveraging the integration of collections and cash application processes.
  • It provides customers with options to make payments anytime and in their preferred format. This comes in handy for A/R teams that have to manage a global customer portfolio with diverse payment formats.
  • It provides a platform for the collaboration of internal teams working on disputes, allowing them to resolve deductions faster by making data-driven decisions.
  • It eliminates transactional, repetitive processes and helps A/R leaders to re-allocate resource bandwidth towards strategic tasks like building better relationships with customers.

Five digitally accelerated tips to increase customer experiences

Conclusion

CFOs and finance leaders from the CPG industry must consider customer experience to be on their 2022 agenda if they want an optimized cash flow. A/R leaders should work with their teams on the points mentioned above to ensure exceptional customer service. 

To achieve that, A/R leaders need to ensure their teams have a 360-degree view of customer performance. Discover how five A/R leaders built their technology stack to provide customer delight.

5 Industry experts share how they built their tech-stack

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HighRadius Integrated Receivables Software Platform is the world’s only end-to-end accounts receivable software platform to lower DSO and bad-debt, automate cash posting, speed-up collections, and dispute resolution, and improve team productivity. It leverages RivanaTM Artificial Intelligence for Accounts Receivable to convert receivables faster and more effectively by using machine learning for accurate decision making across both credit and receivable processes and also enables suppliers to digitally connect with buyers via the radiusOneTM network, closing the loop from the supplier accounts receivable process to the buyer accounts payable process. Integrated Receivables have been divided into 6 distinct applications: Credit Software, EIPP Software, Cash Application Software, Deductions Software, Collections Software, and ERP Payment Gateway – covering the entire gamut of credit-to-cash.