Double whammy

We all heard the crazy stories last year. Individuals, on behalf of their small businesses, took Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans not to keep employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 crisis, but to buy six-figure cars, expensive jewelry and resort vacations. Such fraud threatens programs like PPP for everyone.

Intentional or not, financial mismanagement wreaks havoc on oil and gas players. They’ve already suffered a one-two punch from COVID-19 and the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which sent oil prices into negative territory for the first time ever. Imagine you run such a company. You’re under tremendous strain to reduce CAPEX and OPEX costs and improve efficiencies. Now imagine you discover that your trading partner is bankrupt, and you won’t be getting paid even though you already took major losses on inventory. You just don’t need another headache like that.

All this got me wondering how companies can better understand their customers and vendors. How can they truly know their customers in a way that minimizes financial risk? And how can they minimize the cost and time it takes to onboard them? For me, three opportunities stand out.

Customer screening

How many people does it take to screen your customers? Are they effective at mitigating financial crime risk? Would you like to confidently onboard customers faster?

Automation and machine learning are being used to screen customers in real time using contextual analysis. Basically, the technology automatically combs through piles and piles of customer documents and information sources and raises flags that would take humans hours to identify. So, what exactly does this type of screening look for? Pretty much everything that is needed to truly “know your customer” (KYC). Negative media stories, sanctions, regulatory and law enforcement issues, and the identification of any politically exposed persons in the organization are just some of the screening filters used. 

Self-service portals

I can’t imagine how much time I’d waste trying to gas up my car, get money from the bank or buy groceries if I had to wait for a gas station attendant, a bank teller or a cashier. I can even buy a car from a vending machine! Self-service solutions aren’t new, but they’re growing in popularity and sophistication and creating better experiences for customers. Self-service portals now offer the same advantages for business.

In these volatile times, oil and gas companies are overhauling and right sizing their workforces and encouraging employees to do more with less. Unfortunately, if today’s manual processes don’t change, transaction times will only grow longer. Frustration will continue rising. Nobody likes waiting around.

How often have you had to wait on a contract that seemed stuck somewhere in the internal review cycle? It doesn’t have to be like that. Self-service portals let customers and vendors upload requested documents directly to a company’s “know your customer” environment. They can help ease the burden of due diligence and reduce the time spent with all the back and forth of customer and vendor outreach by up to 30 to 40 percent1. With wait times reduced by about a third, customers have a better experience. And most importantly, because portals can house information on everything from purchase intentions to payment history and contract terms, management can make better, faster decisions about who they are doing business with.

Customer lifecycle management

Today I was shopping at Amazon.com and the site recommended other products I might like based on what I was viewing. The company knows me, remembers me, and even interacts with me by name. Customers that have relationships with your business should get the same kind of treatment. Most already expect that they will.

By investing in automated customer screening and self-service portals, companies are more likely to have the customer information they need to react quickly to new situations, changing environmental conditions and evolving regulations. Gathering and organizing that information early allows faster coordination and response. It helps reduce onboarding time, facilitates smooth product updates, protects one’s brand and minimizes regulatory fines. In short, using data and digital technologies to streamline processes across the customer lifecycle can help save money. It improves the customer experience, and it allows you to make sure you’re doing business with the right customers from the start.

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Know your customer to grow your business

Customer and vendor management is an undervalued process for many companies. But in times when no company can afford to lose revenue or have unnecessary expenses, can you really afford not to manage your risk more effectively?

Know your customer and vendors from the start. Automate customer onboarding. Use self-service portals to engage with your customers in new ways. Use data and insights to manage customers, products and regulatory changes together. These capabilities can help you avoid doing business with the wrong customer. Instead, you’ll be engaging the partners that could drive your growth.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this document are meant to stimulate thought and discussion. As each business has unique requirements and objectives, these ideas should not be viewed as professional advice with respect to the business. This document may contain descriptive references to trademarks that may be owned by others. The use of such trademarks herein is not an assertion of ownership of such trademarks by Accenture and is not intended to represent or imply the existence of an association between Accenture and the lawful owners of such trademarks.

Source:
1. Accenture analysis

Richard Schiltz

SENIOR MANAGER – STRATEGY & CONSULTING, ENERGY

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