Interview with Volker Bornhöft, President Collection Germany at Arvato Financial Solutions
Mr Bornhöft, as market leader for debt collection solutions in Germany, Arvato Financial Solutions provides an holistic view of the flow of payments. What role does the customer play in this?
We are part of a group of companies that offers innovative financial services at all stages of the customer life cycle. Our many and varied touchpoints with customers enable us to effectively anticipate their needs and information requirements. The customer always remains firmly at the center of our business and we place particular emphasis on dialogue management in all measures relating to accounts receivable. It’s all about retaining customers, while ensuring that their requirements are satisfied; because for our clients, it is of vital importance that unpaid receivables are available as liquidity in a timely manner.
How do you use your experience with payment processes to support companies in receivables management?
For example, by using sound risk management right from the beginning of the customer life cycle, we can prevent payment default from ever arising: data-driven risk forecasting can significantly reduce the risk of bad debts for companies. Fraud prevention has become extremely important in recent years. Intelligent linkage and interpretation of user behavior and device identities are essential factors for more targeted protection against fraud. In this way, by offering and managing innovative payment methods, we can ultimately deliver a more convenient and seamless user experience, while at the same time minimizing risks for companies.
How do you design a receivables management process which is convenient for the end customer?
Customers are often only in temporary financial difficulties, so it is important for companies to maintain a positive business relationship with them. For us, customer retention ideally begins one step before debt collection - in the company's dunning process. At this stage we use our many years of experience to advise our clients on how to optimize the use of communication measures. A customer who is helped in this phase to master their financial situation, will later demonstrate a very high level of loyalty to the company.
In debt collection, it is important to achieve a balancing act in the maintenance of customer relationships. From the very beginning of processing it is important to not view the customer as a ‘case’ but as a human being: as our client’s customer. We address his needs and enquire about the details of his specific situation, and in so doing deal with his individual requirements.
With more than 30 analysts, our Business Intelligence Division continuously reviews the success of communications. Our Innovation Lab uses machine-learning methods to work out how communication can be best combined with high automation to relieve administrators of routing activities and give them more time for talking to customers.
Keyword communication: How will communication with end customers change - and how is Arvato Financial Solutions responding to these changes?
It is becoming ever more agile and direct. Our response is to extend communication channels to ensure a uniformly high service level. In our view, as an international player, it is not enough to simply provide future-oriented means of communication; rather, it is a matter of using them smartly and in a situation-specific manner, in order to make the process as easy as possible for the consumer, whether by e-mail, chat, portal or letter. This is particularly true in the phases in which the focus is on maintaining customer relationships.