Intelligent Automation For Customer-Centric O2C : Lessons From Shurtech And Yaskawa

Speakers

Elizabeth Chamorro

Senior Credit Manager,
International Credit and A/R,
Yaskawa

Marinko Marijolovic

Director, Corporate Credit,
Shurtech Brands

Transcript

[0:00] Marinko Marijolovic:

So before we get started, we’ll just kind of tell you guys a little bit about our companies. So you guys just kind of have a vibe from our perspective as to where we’re coming from. So I work for certain brands. We’re a company that’s owned by Shurtech. We got two locations in the Avon, Ohio location, which is outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and our headquarters is in Hickory, North Carolina outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Our company is fairly centralized. So finance is centralized all through one reporting structure, but we are in different locations. So I handle all the credit collections, cash, AR, anything related to that realm, and my whole team sits in Avon but my boss and the General Accounting folks, for example, are in North Carolina. We are primarily a manufacturer of tape products. So the gaffers tape you see on the carpet most likely was probably made by us but we sell to the room tail side for to Home Depot, Walmart folks that would resell the product to us, the consumer. So some of our brands are like frog tape or T-rex or anything that’s got like a little duck on it, we made it. If you’ve gone and bought shelf liners as an easy liner on it, it was all us. And then we’ve got another part of the business that sells to the industrial side. And there were selling to people that are incorporating our products within their products. So either they say they’re using packing tape in their production process or they’re using electrical tape to repair their plans, things of that nature. So we’ve got the business by split 60-40 between the retail, we refer to it as a consumer versus industrial. And like I said, my group handles both and obviously, they function differently. So we have to kind of take both into consideration when we are doing any changes or any kind of technology. It’s brought in.

[2:03] Marinko Marijolovic:

No, you got nothing. Oh yeah. There you go.

[2:18] Elizabeth Chamorro:

I don’t know anything about technology. My name is Elizabeth Chamorro. I work for Yaskawa, America. We have been in the United States since 1969. Our parent company is based out of Japan. Worldwide, we have over 7000 employees with over $4 billion in sales. Here in the United States, we opened the doors in 1969 to distribute a product manufacturer in Japan, and now we do full manufacturers in the United States. We’re not a distributor anymore. And we have about 1000 employees for the Americas, with over $600 million in sales. The headquarters in Waukegan, Illinois, but we have three manufacturing facilities- Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin. Basically, we manufacture products for factory automation so we do AC servos, drives, motors for big industries to automate the processes cutting the way in the semiconductor business. Some of our customers are again in the semiconductor automotive because we also make robots, the arms for the car industry, plastic, oil, oil, and gas is a big industry for us. And the way we distributor a product that customer bases OEMs, we go to service rep companies and OEMs.

[4:04] Marinko Marijolovic:

Alright, so we’ll get started. So what we’re going to cover in this session is just the customer experience in the order cash process and then a five-step guide in creating a more customers centric AR process.

[4:22] Elizabeth Chamorro:

Okay, let’s start with the experience of you know the customer experience window and business. We will receive the statistics from the Hackett group and HighRadius was kind enough to share with me, their 73% of the C suite in the financial executives, they identified that customer experience is in the top five for your use of theirs. But as we go through the presentation, you will see that even though the acceptance is high, the adoption still remains very low. We’re still functioning. When they talk about customers’ experience from order to cash, I think we spend a lot of time more in the order to billing and it stops right there, they think that’s the end of the cycle. Whatever we do, we have to always do it in mind that what is best for the customer, what is in it for the customer. As I said before, most of the initiatives, the money that you have, are allocated later to projects from the product. You want to make sure that you manufacture a quality product, that you deliver the product, that you have your logistics in place in order to sell that product and get it to the customer. Well, in this scenario again, as I said before, they spend a lot of time and spend a lot of money on making that part of the business in successful areas, but they always forget about this life. I always tell my groups, there’s life after building right? We all deal being in the credit field, what do we have to make sure that the billionaires correct when they issue credits that they create a cycle, right? We’re the ones applying the cash, we’re the ones dealing with the customer. So we are in front of that, we are the first ones to be in front of the customer after the sales rep because we are creating that customer on the computer. And we go all the way to submit them to collections, possibly sewing them because they’re not paying you. And the problem is that for many decades, finance has always been seen as a cost center. So there’s not a lot of initiatives. There’s not a lot of money invested to really have a customer-centric and really service and have all customer service from order to cash.

[7:04] Marinko Marijolovic:

One other thing to note here, guys. So obviously most of our organizations, you may have a Customer Service Group and it’s either driven through some operational function or through sales. And, like Liz said, and once the order is shipped, the customer service performance drops off significantly for a lot of organizations and falls normally in the realm of AR because we’re the ones calling to say that we want the money, and whatever issues or grievances the customer has, they are expecting us to resolve it. So it also behooves you to make sure that you’re in the know or that you work with your customers, who work within your organization to make sure that they are providing sufficient customer service and if you’re having a lot of issues coming your way that your people having to deal with, make sure you kind of pass that along to the actual customer service group to say, “Hey, here’s where we’re dropping the ball or we’re not functioning the way we really should”. Don’t keep it in your area in a silent environment, share that you know either in some tracking manner or informal process that you can notify people that your customers are having issues.

[8:12] Elizabeth Chamorro:

So moving forward. Customer service again is the game for every organization but yet we are not ready for that. The time in the credit management has taken us sometimes a week to approve a credit application because you can lose orders, timely shipments to the customer because you are taking either too long in opening an account or you reveal the process of existing customers. It’s a lengthy process and manual process. You can miss an opportunity and as you know, selling the product faster and turning into cash. The billing and payments again, they think after they ship the product, that’s the end of the order to cash cycle. That’s not true. We the ones dealing with the building, if it’s right or wrong, the payments, what method are we offering, what methods of the customers are asking. Collections have multiple touchpoints, too many correspondences going back and forth when you try to miss an opportunity possibly to collect another account because you’re spending too much time in one account. And deductions. Deductions will never go away. For us, it is very minimal in our business. But think of the people that can see us even though they’re in bankruptcy. They have rebased. They have chargebacks. They have all kinds of different deductions. And still, if you think about it, this affects customers, right? Not only the internal customers and this is the last day from the sales group to consider.

[9:58] Marinko Marijolovic:

So most of you folks probably are not on the front lines dealing directly with the customer, but you’re dealing with the internal customers. So if you’re giving poor customer service to internal customers, odds are that your folks will be given poor customer service to the external ones as well. So make sure you’re doing the buy-in. And that they see from you that you’re leading the way otherwise it’s not going to take. Then you know, as Liz mentioned before with customer satisfaction, make sure that you create some parameters, some expectations and things of that nature.

[10:37] Elizabeth Chamorro:

Okay, the second point is Process Redesign to Prioritize Customer Satisfaction. I think from what Marinko said and what we do that I briefly told China’s customer survey that we do yearly, and our policy is very clear to us and it’s all over. We have Billboards posted everywhere in the company, in our policies, where we place quality, continual improvement and customer satisfaction at the forefront of everything we do, so whenever we kind of forget, we read the signs all over the building. The ultimate result that we want to see is that the customer satisfied with the order to cash truly. As I said, we do that through the survey. We try like for example in disputes, we streamline the process, customers get very upset when you have to transfer them other let me put you through logistics. They leave a message, how many times the logistics won’t take the time to call the customer because there is a problem and they are afraid of sales tax. A lot of people don’t care when they enter the order. They know that these customers are repeat customers that this customer ships in too many states. It is the first time they get a customer and say that they haven’t received a tax extension. Their mentality is let’s process it and we deal with them later. So the approach that we have taken in collections, I’m also responsible for deductions as once we get the customer to inside sales or we show the credit. We have kind of increased the speed on under bridge solutions because we take care of it, we point contact for the customer like- tell me what is the problem and what is the dispute, send me a copy of your appeal, is there special pricing for the project, give me all the information. So by the time, I’m the only one that they dealing with, so by the time, we find your solution for the problem there is either no customer or I go to customer service and issue credit because of this. So in everything we do, we always decide what we need to do by keeping the customer on the mind and always redesigning, always changing priorities to meet the customer’s demands and what they expect them from us.

[13:11] Elizabeth Chamorro:

The next I guess is a continuation of the first. Customer satisfaction and hiring and nurturing the right talent. Equip yourself, align the corporate goals with the credit and collection goals and provide ultimate customer satisfaction by having by hiring the right talent. Many years ago, I want to say, what we viewed, collectors are just mean people that get on the forum and force them to pay. Now, the mentality has changed. We have gone from sales probation to working with sales, we are in extension of sales that these are my company. We make sure that we train our people, that our people know that they have to work together with the inside sales to resolve issues. We don’t work in silos when it comes to communication in that sense. We train our people. One of our goals, company wise is to have 40 hours of training every year and that counts for 10% of our goals.

[14:23] Marinko Marijolovic:

So number four here, so real quick, we are short on time. So a couple of things, you know, introducing it into your organization, you got to introduce some incentives. Obviously, most people aren’t gonna take a lot of things unless there’s something to be gained or there’s some kind of punishment, I guess. But hopefully, some incentives if you put those in, they’ll kind of help out. So some of the real quick, some of the KPIs that you can look at. Liz mentioned earlier, her group does have a formal process and everything. Customer retention. Obviously, most of our folks are most of our organizations are tracking customer retention, they see how many customers are coming back to purchase from us again and the customers we’re losing, things like that. And what you want to do is incorporate that within the AR group, how many people are being impacted if someone says, “Hey, we’re leaving because we’re getting hassled by the collection efforts, or we’ve been denied for credit”, things like that. So you want to incorporate that in there. Doing a customer service survey for just the AR folks, you can always send out a survey through email because most of us communicate with our customers via email and ask about our experience with the questions or credit group? And then the average time was mentioned, you know, how to respond to AP credit applications, new account setups, how quickly do you expect your people to respond? Are you a company that says, “We respond to it within an hour, or by the end of the day, or by the end of the week, so make sure you set that up. And then have some kind of escalation process. So if the customer feels they’re not getting service, you can’t just let them float until push comes to shove, and you want to get payment, make sure that it’s escalated within finance or even if you have to go outside of finance. So the folks will do their best. And then if they can’t really resolve it, you don’t want the customer just getting passed along to somebody else and say, “Hey, I’ll transfer your customer service”, and no one responds and you don’t get payment. Obviously they’re not happy either.

[16:41] Elizabeth Chamorro:

Okay, leveraging automation for Improved Productivity. For the lack of time, I kind of just want to point out three things that we have artificial intelligence and PRA have brought companies many steps closer to the customer-centric model. The cloud-based into automation, it’s real visibility. Again, with the cloud-based, you’ll have the visibility of the AR function, you can streamline the workflows so there will be a seamless collaboration among departments. Self Service Portals. It’s very beneficial if you implement the EIPP solution and all the customers can view their payments at any time. They wake up at two o’clock in the morning, they feel the urge of paying you, they can just sign-in in the portal, they don’t have to weigh as we used to before for the regular hours that they operate.

[17:36] Marinko Marijolovic:

Most of our organizations have like a process where customer can put their own orders in, you can always piggyback on that to link that to their accounts, where they can retrieve their statements so they can get invoice copies as well. And as Liz said, they can do it at their leisure versus relying on somebody to manually send it over.

[17:58] Elizabeth Chamorro:

And with AI-powered analytics, the trend, the analysis that I have seen the product that HighRadius offers and the analytics, getting to know the behavior of your customers, how they pay and based on that creating the worklist, which reduces a tremendous amount of time. Again, leveraging automation, specific automation capabilities that will help you deliver better customer experience, automate the correspondence, have one set of four, do your letters and approach the customers in the same way you approach somebody that owes you $10 versus $20. Externalized correspondence, have the templates that I said during the planning process, our own customers to pay via credit card, self-service, and go online and use any type of method to chat by phone and things like that. Self-service portals as Marinko mentioned, either to place an order or to pay an invoice in automated credit card, credit applications. Make it very transparent to the customer and the decision process that you have.

[19:17] Marinko Marijolovic:

So real quick, we’ll just go over some myths versus facts. So this is some of them. It’s automation that results in loss of human touch. So in some things you don’t want the human touch, you just want to get the information when you want it. And when you call them the bank to get your balance, you don’t really want to talk to proceed. You just want the computer to tell you about your bank balances, that’s kind of the same thing within our realm. And then a couple of these other ones here. Customers don’t appreciate automation. You know, I don’t think that’s true. I think customers like automation because it will speed up their requirements and then just the whole security issue. I think the most part most of us are over that. I don’t really think a whole lot about security when I’m communicating with someone about the business or information that I need from them. And then, you know, automation puts pressure on the supplier. That’s not really true, because it’s in a lot of instances, everyone in the whole process from the supplier to the customer, everyone is expecting automation these days. And I think that’s the norm. In some of the facts, automation is an enabler. That’s something to keep in mind.

[20:36] Elizabeth Chamorro:

It’s not a replacement. Always, it not machines versus humans as machines and humans. We can never replace a human and the thought process, the critical thinking that we do. Machines just add the information that you put in repetitive tasks that somebody does, put them in a list and they are just like a robot, just like the word is said, they repeat that. Well, we are not set for that, we are not robots, so we never get rid of the human touch with customers.

[21:10] Marinko Marijolovic:

We’ll let you guys read the rest of those. But just real quick, as Liz mentioned, customer service is huge in our society, obviously. We’re real big on customer service. When it comes to consumers on the B2B side, we’ve kind of lost a little bit, or we’re trailing on that. So we’re going to just leave you with this. We encourage you to use technology, use it appropriately. Think about what you want to do. Get technology, it’s going to assist your customers, it’s gonna assist your teams to be more efficient to do their jobs better. And like I said, the biggest thing that I’ve noticed with using technology is that my team does not seem as flustered, doesn’t seem overwhelmed. They do have time to dedicate especially on the harder problems on the bigger issues, the accounts and also when they’re just getting one-off calls about various issues, they can take their time, they can go communicate with somebody else within the organization. I don’t want my team to be responsible for the customer service transaction, you should expect them to follow through to make sure that that customer service or sales or logistics or whoever, they told to respond to the customer that they actually follow back up to say, “Hey, did you contact that customer as a problem resolved or not?” And questions on that note, I guess.

[22:37] Elizabeth Chamorro:

Sorry, we took a little bit longer, but I think we’re late in starting.

[22:43] Marinko Marijolovic:

Does anybody have anything for Liz? Well, thank you very much.

[22:48] Elizabeth Chamorro:

Thank you.

[0:00] Marinko Marijolovic: So before we get started, we’ll just kind of tell you guys a little bit about our companies. So you guys just kind of have a vibe from our perspective as to where we’re coming from. So I work for certain brands. We’re a company that’s owned by Shurtech. We got two locations in the Avon, Ohio location, which is outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and our headquarters is in Hickory, North Carolina outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Our company is fairly centralized. So finance is centralized all through one reporting structure, but we are in different locations. So I handle all the credit collections, cash, AR, anything related to that realm, and my whole team sits in Avon but my boss and the General Accounting folks, for example, are in North Carolina. We are primarily a manufacturer of tape products. So the gaffers tape you see on the carpet most likely was probably made by us but we sell to the room tail side for to Home Depot, Walmart folks that would resell the product to us, the consumer. So some of our brands are like frog tape or T-rex or anything that’s got like a little…

What you'll learn

  • Shurtech’s guide to align internal teams and processes to achieve the customer satisfaction objectives
  • How Yaskawa leveraged order-to-cash automation for better end-user experience
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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.