It’s not a natural fit for some businesses to see their credit controllers as positive customer ambassadors. Mostly associated with attributes such as tenacity and persistence, these teams are seen as the people to keep the cash flow moving no matter what. However, this is an outdated perception. Now, more than ever, credit controllers must play a crucial role in creating positive customers experiences.
Positive customer experiences are the key to customer loyalty and company growth and longevity. Research has shown us that an organisation needs 12 positive experiences to sway one negative experience. So, for credit departments, how do you adjust the mindset from seeing debtors who owe money to customers? Particularly when nearly half of small and medium sized business face late payments at least once one month at stated by YouGov research.
Sales and marketing departments often use technologies, such as automation and personalisation software, to help them get to know the customer better and to devise positive approaches to keep customers satisfied. Such technologies should also be utilised by credit teams in a similar fashion in order to boost the customer experience and, ultimately, deliver faster payments.
Understanding and applying your customer knowledge for greater Day Sales Outstanding (DSO)
No two customers are ever the same and therefore a ‘one size fits all’ approach will never work. This is why getting to know your customers is so valuable. By undertaking a full examination of an individual customers’ needs and requirements during the initial contact, credit controllers can segment their client individually, by assessing who the customer is, what they need and what the risks are. Therefore, affording the capability to personalise communications to each client.
For example, do you know if your customer’s understaffed accounts department with a high workload might mistakenly overlook an open invoice, or is it the case that they always pay late as a matter of policy? Based on this understanding, you can tailor your approach and show understanding of the client you are dealing. This method creates a positive impression that turns customer perceptions around and helps them pay on time.
Customer insight requires the right technology
An Excel spreadsheet containing customer’s financial and billing information isn’t going to deliver the data and insight needed to change how you interact with customers. A spreadsheet’s function is limited to number crunching, not for storing masses of details about customers. To deliver transparency and greater faster invoice payments, you need to look to technologies that can automate the mundane and deliver insights that can be put into delivering more valuable customer interactions.
The fact is that credit management, as a process, can be automated for the most part. Credit management solutions can monitor each customer’s order to cash journey and use this data to segment customers – assessing who the customer is, what they need, what the risks are, their payment behaviour and how they prefer to communicate.
Once segmented, credit teams can assign automated reminders, processes and actions based on this behaviour. Consequently, communication with a customer who always pays late will differ from those with the customer who simply forgot to pay an invoice. This functionality provides customers with the attention they need, while at the same time, giving credit managers more time to focus on exceptions.
Because credit management software provides insights on the entire order to cash process, all stages of the journey can be optimised and KPIs achieved. This may include lowering the DSO, optimising cash flow, improving the ability to focus on the core business and focusing on a positive customer experience. It also gives a fully integrated overview of the cash flow forecasting and outstanding debts.
Within an organisation, every instance of customer contact is an opportunity. Credit control departments are not exempt from this. Implementing specialist credit management solutions can help you understand your customers as well as improve financial transactions that are critical to the future health of your organisation.
Martin de Heus, Onguard, VP of Direct Sales