Email has now become the main way to interact with customers within the credit-to-cash (C2C) function, and is shaping the way teams work. If much of your own day is focused on getting through your inbox, don’t fear – you’re not alone. Email is both a help and a hindrance – making it easy to connect, but also a distraction from getting the real work done.
We’ve learnt through trial and error that organizations should take a completely different approach when it comes to managing email within the C2C process.
Stuck in the shadow of email
When we work with clients to assess the effectiveness of their back-office functions, we often find individual emails and generic mailbox (GMB) activities form a massive vortex of “shadow work” – or activities that take place outside of your core systems and lack visibility. Email is a transactional work effort, a volume to be tracked, like credit requests and other processing activities. While collections emails are sometimes monitored as part of a service desk, the bulk of emails across C2C are traditionally left unmonitored and reside in the shadows.
There is so much information that can be harnessed from collections emails – accounts payable contact information, master data, deductions backup, payment commitments, dispute information, credit references, points of contact, remittance advice, requests for refunds, customers communicating that they aren’t happy with your organization’s product or service, the list is endless. This data typically stays within email and often isn’t used to update your systems.
With over 50% of effort in collections on email, it’s important to implement an approach that optimizes the work and can leverage this data proactively.
Individual vs. generic mailbox email
It is equally difficult to identify whether your teams are dealing with their emails effectively, responding on time, or even at all – especially if you don’t have GMBs or workflow tools. If one of your collectors or credit representatives is on holiday, and they are using their own work email, communication with their customers grinds to a halt.
Some organizations try to control email volumes by funneling customer queries from individual email inboxes to GMBs. However, this comes with another set of complexities. The average C2C function uses at least a dozen GMBs that receive an average of over 20,000 emails per month. While most organizations manage this work channel through traditional email clients and shared inboxes, the same problems exist:
Limited visibility – the leadership has no way of tracking email resolution, response quality, or even query volume.
No control – most models rely on reactive management of GMBs or relying on reporting that shows emails moving from one inbox to another
No structured data – other than basic routing, it’s difficult to automate a lot of the work due to different emails and unstructured data.
An effective automation wrapper
In order to transform the collections process for a global consumer goods client, we knew that we would need to implement a different kind of workflow technology. We needed an agile provider, willing to work with us to shape our approach. We needed robust business process management functionality that was able to wrap around both individual emails and GMBs. At Capgemini, we partnered with Pipefy.
While most workflow and process management tools handle emails that are delivered to a GMB, we needed a tool that could work in collections. We wanted to avoid the change management required of customers to use a centralized email and keep our individual customers’ connection to their collector, while automating and improving the interaction process.
Pipefy extracts multiple data points from an email and gives us the ability to add content, metadata, and more automation. Our collections team was able to build the automation rules themselves and was happy not to have to rely on IT or a programmer. The visibility and other benefits the collections team gained from implementing Pipefy included:
- An immediate improvement in customer experience due to an increase in response time and quality from our sales team
- The ability to rationalize all activities within the collections process and prioritize work in a much more holistic way
- The ability to automatically escalate emails to a collector’s direct supervisor if an individual email wasn’t answered within a set period. This can be applied to a workflow ticket system with GMBs, but typically to a collector’s personal work email
- The ability to see the entire population of emails, understand volumes and content
- A next-generation platform for further automation and integration with standard robotics tools.
Email made easy
Collections emails should be treated just like any other volume in C2C. Within collections, adding an automation wrapper such as Pipefy around your emails can give you enhanced control, increased customers experience and satisfaction, and proactive elimination of shadow work. In short, while phone calls are still the best way to resolve issues quickly in collections, it’s getting harder to get a real person to answer the phone, and collectors are defaulting more and more to email.
We challenge you to work out exactly how many emails are coming in and out of your collections team each month. Pipefy can help you understand what’s really going on and unlock the value of your email content across your C2C function.
Read other blogs in this series:
- Learn about three steps to improve your collections function
- Improve your order-to-cash process in a few simple steps
- Learn about successful accounts receivable collections in ten easy steps
- Four Key Components to Writing effective credit-to-cash emails
Learn more about how Capgemini’s Finance Powered by Intelligent Automation offering helps you navigate the myriad of products, tools and services, enabling your business to benefit from an intelligent solution that combines automation, digital platforms, know-how and insight.
This blog was written by Caroline Schneider (Credit-to-Cash Global Process Owner, Capgemini’s Business Services), David Laud (Director, BAO of Credit-to-Cash Tools), Capgemini’s Business Services, and Shik Sundar (VP Sales, Pipefy).
Caroline Schneider has been delivering and designing O2C solutions for clients for over 18 years. She is passionate about delivering solutions to clients to maximize their working capital through technology, automation, and industrialized process design.
David Laud develops robust solutions for C2C transformational initiatives focusing on impact to working capital and cash flow, while driving intensive operating cost reduction for clients around the globe.
Shik Sundar has spent the last 15 years helping enterprises successfully adopt cloud technologies from innovative startups. He has an obsessive focus on driving outsize returns for Capgemini clients through finance process digitization.