When businesses think about everyday customer interactions, they predominantly think about their Sales and Customer Service teams. But in order to connect with your customers in new ways and improve your relationships with them, we also need to explore new avenues. One of these avenues is through your Collections teams. According to Walker Inc's Customers 2020 report, “Customer experience has overtaken price and product as the key brand differentiator.” For most businesses, Collections is the only back office customer facing group and can play a vital role in expanding and improving relationships with customers throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

Traditional finance systems can often be overlooked as software companies continue to develop the latest and greatest Sales and Customer Service tools. As a result, back office systems and teams are working out of archaic programs with little collaboration with the rest of the company. These programs were built to be systems of record, not systems of engagement. At Salesforce, we connected our back office to the front office and transitioned away from these siloed tools. We opened up communication throughout the company to service our customers at the highest level at every stage of the customer lifecycle. We felt that the Collections experience should be just as smooth and personalized as the Sales or Customer Service experience.

There is a lot that goes in to acquiring, servicing, and managing customers. Your Sales Representatives have spent months networking and proving how your product can solve their business needs. Then technical support and customer service teams work tirelessly to onboard and troubleshoot issues to keep customers happy. And throughout all these interactions, your Collections team is also engaging with the customer to manage payments, invoice disputes, and other billing inquiries. If you rely on your Sales and Service teams to be the face of your organization, why should Collections be any different? Businesses should be leveraging Collections as an opportunity to improve the relationship with their customers at new and unique points of contact.

Here are 3 ways your Collections team can improve your customer relationships:

  • Customize Interactions with Centralized Data: Bring together your data (and your company) byworking out of a unified system so everyone has a single view of the customer and can create personalized interactions. More and more, customers are valuing 1:1 relationships and less of a blanket approach. For example, if a customer hasn't paid their invoice due to a restructuring of their contract, the Collector should know to hold off on past due notices until the new deal is complete and invoices are reissued. The customer should never have to explain this.
  • Resolve Customer Issues Faster with a Single Platform: Consolidate your systems so that Collection Analysts can more quickly provide answers and resolve issues. No more logging in and out of separate systems, doing calculations in excel spreadsheets, or digging through emails. Collector's should easily be able to answer a question about products on their invoice or a special term on the contract. All the information they need should be right in front of them.
  • Provide a Seamless Experience Across all Departments: Enable your departments to work as one team as they all have the same goal: to serve the customer. Visibility across departments allows teams to problem solve cross functionally. If a customer contacts your customer service department about an invoice issue, the Collector can collaborate with the Service Representative right on the case to help resolve the issue, rather than bouncing the customer around to another department. Show that you continue to care about your customers long after the deal has been closed.

How will you ensure you are improving your customer relationships at all stages of the customer lifecycle?

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For more information about how Salesforce manages Collections, please review our Dreamforce Presentation or contact Brandon Redman: bredman@salesforce.com.

About the Author

Brandon Redman is a Senior Program Manager, Global AR Operations at Salesforce where he oversees the vision and development of Salesforce for Accounts Receivable programs. Since joining Salesforce in 2012, Brandon has been intimately involved in the Quote to Cash process, working in Renewals before transitioning to Finance Operations. He graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration.