Customer relationship management (CRM) systems have evolved considerably and now include many different business aspects in one, like marketing, sales leads, tech support, and even employee conversation. Interestingly, there is one segment that most businesses have not capitalized on within CRMs yet – past due collections. Many companies wait until the customer is past due to start collection tactics. The latest trend is to integrate this new, “preventive” strategy to connect with customers and save time and revenue overall.
The past or “reactive” business strategy separates customer care and accounts collection activities. Once a customer has missed payments, a new division of the business must work accordingly to receive payments, wasting time and money. This new “preventive” strategy works by discovering revenue recovery opportunities early in the payment cycle to effectively ensure happy customers and paid bills in one instance. Using advanced technology and billing analytics within a CRM database, it secures payment before the customer reaches the collection stage.
An easy way to implement these changes is through your customer care reps. Called “universal agents”, these employees engage with customers and answer any questions, but then steer the conversation towards billing or collection issues. By streamlining this process into a single call, costs are reduced, payments are rendered, and customer relationship is persevered and revenues increased.
Check out these seven steps to establish and manage preventive collections strategy:
1. Find your “universal” agents
Find employees who have an ideal skill set for customer care. People who make good universal agents usually have a thick skin and can handle past-due collections conversations.
2. Provide training that is upfront and ongoing
Once universal agents are identified, they need special training. They should understand how to show empathy and engage in negotiation skills to effectively resolve customer care issues and negotiate billing issues. Ongoing training is also required, so they are constantly updated on the system and how to change data within it.
3. Control customer service quality and performance
Using efficient customer service systems streamlines the process. Having the customer’s data appear on screen the moment they call makes the process simpler and easier to negotiate.
4. Use consumer data to negotiate payment alternatives
By having access to additional customer information, you can negotiate more easily and make the process simpler for the customer, too. For example, if you have the customer’s payment history on screen, you can better negotiate due dates. You may offer a suggestion like, “Can we change the due date to better fit your needs?” With a caring and understanding approach, your clients should deliver better financial results.
5. Use non-traditional communication to engage
It is no surprise that customers and businesses alike are using different means to converse with one-another. For the best results, use a multi-channel approach to leverage a message using voice communication, as well as email, direct mail, instant chat or even Twitter.
6. Constancy is key
Provide training and support equally to all of your agents to ensure reliable service to all of your customers. Develop a set of standards that are well defined. Make sure your agents always strive to do their best.
7. Motivation and incentives
Develop a client-specific compensation model to help motivate your agents.
With this strategy, late paying customers will receive better all around communication from your business, and you will receive payments on time. By identifying and resolving past due issues before the customer reaches the collections stage is a proven way to enhance the bottom line.