Servicing customers includes some functions that have always been most difficult for all types of businesses, i.e., managing the timely payments for goods and services. Though most customer services involve satisfying various consumer needs, collecting payments – especially those that are in arrears – must also be done in an effective way that does not violate any of the regulations or state and federal laws that currently exist. With new business communications technologies, there are new benefits and gains that can be gained, if – and when – regulations allow.
There are now new opportunities for supporting ongoing and late payment management through direct, more timely and efficient interactions with customers who increasingly carry smartphones. Most importantly, mobile customer contacts and interactions can be flexibly controlled by the individual customers to suit their personalized needs. However, because there are many different laws and reglations originally designed to protect legacy cellular users that make it both difficult and expensive to do the job of performing collections from customers through accounts receivable management or by independent collections companies. (For more information on this issue, read the white paper on “Payment Compliance – Same Rules, Different Game.”)
Payment Management Benefits Through Personalized, Mobile Interactions
The benefits of providing mobile self-service interactions are significant; not only will they reduce the costs of supporting customer needs, but they will also create greater customer cooperation and satisfaction in fulfilling their financial obligations. In addition, self-services will not only generate greater contextual information about a customer’s current status, but will also enable customers to quickly and flexibly access appropriate forms of live assistance to discuss their financial situation constructively.
The basis for any customer business interaction and relationship can now be reinforced through both mobile self-service applications, as well as timely access to live assistance for all of a customer’s business activities. That relationship can now include payment situations where a customer must be notified in a timely and efficient way of any problem that has developed, along with convenient options for quickly resolving those issues.
It is important to differentiate enterprise Accounts Receivable Management (ARM (News - Alert)), which should be viewed as a logical extension of customer services for business organizations, from commercial collection activities from organizations that specialize in dealing with debtors, not their own customers. (See latest capabilities for Latitude Software® collections technology.) It is, however, ARM that will provide the most benefit to most business organizations, because it can help retain existing customers, while also facilitating customer payment management activity. It is also here that innovative contact center technology providers, like Interactive Intelligence, are supporting new personalized interactions for mobile customers.
The bottom line is that more convenient and easy access to up-to-date customer data, coupled with efficient and flexible communications with customers, can improve the nature and costs of collecting on customer accounts that are in arrears.
Part 2 of this series discusses options for automation and self-service, and part 3 looks at security and compliance issues.
Edited by Rich Steeves