Enhancing the customer payment experience
In a nutshell we have somewhere between 15,000 to 20,000 active customers that interact with us on a frequent basis
CFO OF THE YEAR, MALAYSIA – MIRKO DIERKS
“I’m sorry your payment is delayed and incomplete” are words no customer let alone any treasury professional wants to hear on a daily basis when it comes to processing numerous transactions.
That was the situation at Zuellig Pharma’s Malaysia treasury operations last year, when it had difficulties identifying payments made by customers which then resulted in the slow release of medical supplies to pharmacies and hospitals across the country.
“In a nutshell we have somewhere between 15,000 to 20,000 active customers that interact with us on a frequent basis. In addition to the high number of customers, many of them, such as hospitals for instance, would order from us multiple times during the month which would then result in plenty of transactions,” explains Mirko Dierks, CFO for Malaysia and Brunei at Zuellig Pharma.
According to Dierks, it often took the team several days to match payments, which became particularly troublesome at the end of the month when transaction volumes picked up.
Driven by his commitment to streamline the workflow of his treasury operations and provide a better overall customer experience, Dierks turned to technology such as robotic process automation (RPA) which enabled him to configure software within his ERP (enterprise resource planning) system to capture and interpret information from incoming payments and allocate them accordingly. Working closely with his banking partner HSBC, Dierks decided to combine his RPA matching technology with a virtual account solution being offered by HSBC.
“We desired to have the virtual account matching with our customer numbers so that the last digits of the bank account will be matching exactly what our customer number is in our ERP system,” says Dierks.
For Dierks and his team, speed was key when combining these two solutions particularly with growing their customer base. “For us it is essential to open new customer accounts quickly, meaning we are generating the new customer number in our ERP system and the virtual account number simultaneously.”
Despite the cutting-edge nature of the technology being used by Dierks, the main challenge with transforming his operations was with getting his customers accustomed to using virtual accounts for payments.
In the end, the combination of RPA and virtual accounts was a game changer not only for Zuellig Pharma but also their customers who now knew that once they made their payments, it would be automatically registered in the pharmaceutical company’s ERP system.
“The matching will now be done on the same working day while in the past it would sometimes take a couple of days depending on the complexity of the matching,” says Dierks.
Going forward, Dierks and his team have plans to further the digitalization drive within the organization’s treasury functions, particularly when it comes to receiving payments electronically.