We talked to Thomas V. Hake, managing director at CollectAI about creating a positive customer experience and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Thomas V. Hake: Personally, I am fine and very happy that none of my family members have been affected. I hope that we all get over this soon and return to our normal lives in summer, at least as much as possible.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined CollectAI.
Thomas V. Hake: I joined collectAI as a managing director in 2019. I’m responsible for the marketing, sales, and customer development divisions. My career began at Boston Consulting Group in Hamburg and Jakarta – I worked there for three and a half years as a consultant after graduating from law school. From there I joined Deutsche Telekom as Vice President for Corporate Development and worked as a COO at Käuferportal/Aroundhome. I also founded my start-up; the Berlin-based Firmen-KFZ.de.
How Does CollectAI innovate?
Thomas V. Hake: Innovation is done the following main areas:
We work closely together with our clients to get an in-depth understanding not only of their demands but also of their customers. By putting the end-customers’ needs in the center, we ensure products that will deliver a great customer experience – and thus, help our clients succeed.
Diversity and collaboration
We encourage an environment of mutual respect and open discussion beyond departments. Being a diverse team with talents from more than 10 nations, we bring together manifold perspectives from which our ideas emerge.
Data first and identification of AI applications
We thrive for excellence in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Thus, we have a dedicated data team that is constantly conceptualizing, developing, and optimizing data-driven solutions that deliver meaningful results.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business and how are you coping?
Thomas V. Hake: Our company is digital by default – switching to work from home was no big effort to us, though we miss the great atmosphere of being together in the office. Despite the situation, we are constantly onboarding new clients and developing our software to meet market needs and shape the future of receivable & invoice management.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Thomas V. Hake: In 2019, we moved away from our original business model of digitizing debt collection to focus on interactive invoices and intelligent payment reminders.
To be more specific: We aim for a great customer experience at an early stage of the payment journey to prevent debt collection cases. Thus, we protect the customer relationship – comparable to the service recovery paradox, ensuring a positive experience in difficult situations may lead to an even better customer relationship. We call this phenomenon the dunning recovery paradox.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Thomas V. Hake: Keep the team spirit by fostering trust which is also one of our core values
- We stay in touch regularly, e.g. weekly Kick-start and we have occasional events – virtual Christmas & summer parties.
- Google Meet & Slack to stay in touch.
- Cloud-based solutions such as Google Drive to collaborate.
- Project management tools such as Confluence and JIRA especially in our tech departments and when working together with clients.
- Our HR team uses Kahoot for fun to create trivia quizzes on company-related topics and guilty pleasures among our colleagues.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Thomas V. Hake: We are working hard to become the leading AI-based intelligent payment solution provider for e-invoices & payment reminders
collectAI has pioneered AI in receivables management in the German market. Our cloud-based platform digitizes the lifecycle of an invoice using digital communication channels and digital payment methods.
Though companies push forward digitization, receivables management processes have remained untouched in many industries. Therefore, we regard the existing internal process based on non-digital legacy systems not only as our field of action but also as our main competitors.
Your final thoughts?
Thomas V. Hake: The benchmark for great customer experience is set by Silicon Valley companies such as Google and PayPal. These pioneers raise the expectations of customers towards intuitive, digital solutions. This standard will then be expected in any interaction with a company.
Especially traditional industries such as utility and insurance are still stuck in old processes. Thus, letters are still the dominant communication channel to inform customers about outstanding payments.
Companies must put the demands of their clients first and fully adapt to the digital standard – otherwise, they won’t be able to sustain in the market in the next decade.
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