Debt collection and a great customer experience are two concepts not typically combined. The image of an intimidating, baseball bat-carrying debt collector is too ingrained in our cultural consciousness.
So being the “friendliest debt collectors in Europe” is quite a bold goal for troy, one of six startups invited to a dedicated financial technology (fintech) program focused on finance and governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) in Berlin by the SAP.iO Foundries.
Financial technology (fintech) describes technology that is designed to improve and automate the use of financial services.
While the term originally referred to technology applied at banks or trading firms, fintech has grown explosively since the Internet cloud computing and mobile revolution. There has been a shift to more consumer-oriented services in recent years.
It now describes a broad range of technologies for personal and commercial finance, such as money transfers, the use of cryptocurrencies, smartphone payments, bypassing a bank to apply for credit, and more.
According to EY’s 2019 Fintech Adoption Index, three out of four consumers have used money transfers or payments with fintech services. As fintech makes financial services more accessible to consumers, its consumer experience expectations will certainly going to increase.
Philip Rürup, CEO of troy, makes clear that creating a friendly customer experience in debt collection is more than a marketing slogan; it is a mindset backed up by technology and proven key performance indicators (KPIs). By treating people as customers and not debtors, troy has found unique solutions to incorporate customer experience into the debt collection process. According to Rürup, this induces people to pay their debts faster, pay more, and even pay “happily.”
“We found that 50 percent of people simply forgot to pay, or just faced a short-term bottleneck,” explained Rürup. “So, it doesn’t make sense to use heavy-handed approaches here.”
A broken car, a long trip, or turbulent times: It is all too easy to lose track of payments.
“Across all industries, improvements in customer experience have focused on marketing, sales, and CRM,” said Rürup. “But as soon you get into the financial processes around invoices, payment, and debt, the positivity stops! We wanted to make debt collection feel different.
Using SAP S/4HANA as the seamless integration point between our solution and the companies wanting to collect on debts is an important part of the equation.”
That is just one of the approaches by startups that have captured the attention of the SAP S/4HANA Product Management and Development Teams. According to Jochen Thierer, head of Engineering for GRC at SAP, startups are crucial to SAP’s ability to address new markets.
“Given SAP’s focus on customer-centricity and success, our objective is to provide holistic GRC and fintech solutions to our global customers across all segments,” said Thierer. “We are constantly evaluating new, exciting startup ideas that could bridge the gap for our customers while ensuring impactful innovations in our core, especially in the fast-moving fintech space.”
There also points out that partnering with the SAP ecosystem is critical, and customers are happy about that: “This strategy is helping our customers in their journey to become intelligent enterprises while helping us compete better and gain market share in the GRC and finance space.”
However, the relationships need to be effectively managed. It is not easy for startups to work with corporations and vice versa.
“Innovation between startups and corporate need to be orchestrated and SAP.iO together with the SAP Startup Engagement team are vital to that,” remarked Thierer. “They made it easy for us to find and engage with the right startups and allowed us to engage with the ecosystem in a professional way.“
In addition to obvious market-based benefits, they also provide more intangible cultural benefits according to Oliver Kroneisen, head of Financials Operations Development at SAP.
“Working with startups is inspirational,” said Kroneisen. “SAP employees get a huge motivational boost when they see how positively the startups view SAP and how eager they are to get the chance to tap into the immense opportunities that the SAP infrastructure and ecosystem provides.
Also, as a manager, it’s eye-opening to see how these entrepreneurs can instill a sense of meaning and purpose into the work employees do and the impact that has on the outcomes – especially in the case of troy.
Their ‘just-built-it’ mentality shows us how easy it can be to build beautiful solutions when you are not hindered by real or imagined silos. Those are important lessons for SAP leaders.”
“The startup founders’ spirit and passion for what they do is infectious,” said Jan Gilg, senior vice president and head of SAP S/4HANA. “I really get a sense of their drive and excitement for what they are working on. I was inspired by the fresh perspectives that I saw on standard topics like governance, and I came away with a lot of new insights.
One of our big topics at the moment is how we can turn commodity processes into differentiation opportunities and I really felt that the out-of-the-box thinking among the GRC and fintech startups is taking this in the right direction. I can’t wait to see what the next cohort of startups will come up with.”
SAP would not be where it is if it was not also self-critical. “We are always looking for ways to improve our internal processes, organizational structures, and software architecture so that startup collaboration gets easier,” explained Kroneisen. “Working with startups helps us uncover areas we need to improve in our cloud business operations.”