By Marieke Saeij, CEO at Onguard
While finance professionals aren’t traditionally associated with the customer experience, in some organisations, such as insurance companies, they are playing a crucial role in this area. When you consider that the finance department tends to be the final step in the buying process, it becomes less surprising that they are as vital to the customer experience as the sales department. Consequently, ensuring they provide a good level of customer service is essential to encourage repeat custom, particularly as it costs companies six to seven times less to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. With research from PwC finding that almost a third (32%) of customers will stop doing business with a brand after just one bad experience, businesses need to make offering an improved level of service a priority. Here are three ways finance teams can help their organisation provide elevated customer experiences:
Anything that makes things easier for customers will ultimately improve their experience and this is something finance departments can do through the use of customer segmentation. Although its use is more commonly associated with improving the credit control processes, it can also be instrumental in enhancing the customer experience. As finance departments are primarily focused on receiving payment for invoices, tailoring services to customer needs and doing everything possible to enable them to pay on time are a must. Therefore, the more the finance team knows about the customer, the better. This information can be used to adopt a personal approach based on identified needs and requirements. For example, it’s possible to find out how customers want to be contacted, whether that’s via email, phone or perhaps even WhatsApp, and how they like to pay.
This data can also be used to group customers into segments and create corresponding workflows which determine how the business interacts with individuals, for instance.By segmenting customers, the finance team can build a better understanding of them and therefore better meet their needs,maintain satisfaction and build a close, long-term relationship with them.
Additionally, to improve the customer experience, it is pivotal that finance departments remove friction from and streamline the payment process. The most effective way to achieve this is by offering better digital capabilities and more varied payment options, such as via direct debit or by sending a link to a payment platform. Additionally, more finance departments are adopting technology which allows them to automate repetitive processes that until now have been done manually. As a direct result of this, more time can be spent providing better customer service and focusing more closely on the higher value accounts or those experiencing financial difficulties.
Understanding the importance of relationship management and solving problems with the customer creates mutual understanding and builds a close relationship. They are not only then more satisfied with their experience but are also far more likely to pay their bill sooner next time.
Work with other departments
It is essential that both the finance team and sales department engage in two-way communication with the customer to gain a better understanding of what their needs and wants are in order to deliver high-quality experiences. After all, a happy customer is a loyal customer. Sales are the lifeblood of any organisation and a breakdown between finance and sales can lead to problems and impact an existing or potential customer. On too many occasions,communication is poor, leading to lost customers and therefore lost business. No one benefits in this scenario. Additionally, finance and sales departments should have regular meetings and training sessions. This will ultimately lead to a better understanding of each other’s roles, difficulties and what each experience on a day to day basis. This will also be hugely beneficial to all involved, helping to create a happier working environment and a smoother, more consistent customer experience.
Moving forward, as businesses compete for new customers and vie to retain existing customers, the finance department will continue to play an integral role in the customer experience. This will require organisations to cultivate an environment in which both sales and finance work together to provide a consistent and frictionless customer experience. For this to be successful, it’s vital they ensure all lines of communication between sales and finance are open, implement the right tools and technology and use the information they have in order to provide a personalised experience for customers. Ultimately, this will go a long way in improving customer satisfaction and retention while also streamlining and enhancing operations internally.