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 a holistic view of the flow of payments. What role does the customer play in this?
Volker Bornhöft: We are part of a group of companies that offers innovative financial services at all stages of the customer lifecycle. Our many and varied points of contact with customers enable us to know exactly what their needs and information requirements are. 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.
With which approaches do you support companies through your experience with payment processes beyond receivables management?
Volker Bornhöft: By, for example, preventing the risk of a payment failure right at the beginning of the customer lifecycle by means of sound risk management: 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 is an essential factor 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 so that it remains convenient for the end customer?
Volker Bornhöft: The customer is often only temporarily in a financially difficult situation, so it is important for companies to maintain a positive business relationship in the future. For us, customer retention ideally begins one step before debt collection - in the company's dunning process. At this stage we already start by advising our clients, using our many years of experience, 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, but it is precisely during the early stages of processing that appreciation can be conveyed. This starts with the basic principle: we regard the demands not as a "case", rather, we consider the people behind it: the customer of our client. 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 best communication can be combined with 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?
Volker Bornhöft: It is becoming ever more agile and direct. Our response is to extend communication channels, which ensure a uniformly high level of service. 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.