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Credit Control, News

It’s all about Trust: Magnet Networks deliver advanced payment communications

In this interview with Shay Waldron, Director of Credit at Magnet Networks, we explore how Prommt has helped him deliver on Magnet’s promise to customers of “Your Solution, Your Way”

Pictured at the Prommt launch at Magnet Networks (l-r): Shay Waldron (Magnet Networks), Iain Nash (Prommt), Eileen Carroll (Prommt) and Stephen Brewer (MD Magnet Networks)

Magnet Networks are headquartered in Ireland and provide solutions to homes, businesses and enterprise customers in Ireland, throughout Europe, the US and beyond. As a trusted telecoms, connectivity and security partner, Magnet Network’s promise is to deliver businesses and domestic customers “your solution, your way”.

Shay Waldron (Magnet Networks Director of Credit) is a stalwart in the credit management industry. He is formerly the Director of the Irish Institute of Credit Management and his broad remit includes cashflow targeting, past due accounts reduction and Data Protection.

Prommt’s Eileen Carroll and Iain Nash spoke to Shay recently about how Prommt has helped Magnet Networks deliver on their overall strategy of improving customer experience.

As the transcript below reveals, Prommt has succeeded in making payments simple and frictionless for Magnet customers, while significantly reducing the company’s DSO in the process. A win-win situation it seems.

Interview Transcript:

Eileen: So Shay what’s working for you in the credit management area at Magnet Networks in terms of customer experience and success rates?

Shay: The most important feature for any customer to pay us is knowing that they have an invoice that is timely, accurate and offers them multiple ways to pay according to their schedule. So some of our customers might want to pay us at 3am on our online portal, some might choose to pay us via our IVR channel, or some might wait for the text and pay using a credit card with Prommt. It’s only by ensuring that a customer has multiple channels to pay an invoice that you will ensure that your cash collections are reliable.

Eileen: Would you say that Prommt is having a positive effect on customer retention?

Shay: Absolutely. Because the customer is getting the invoice in a timely manner, and the message that is formatted much better than if you sent out through other channels. Prommt is reliable, it’s secure, It’s giving the control back to the customer. In this day and age, not a lot of people want to release their credit card details. With GDPR coming in people have decided “I want to choose when I give my credit card”. This system allows them to say “I trust the invoice, I trust the company but I’ll keep my credit card, so I’ll do a one time payment” and they’ll hold on to the details themselves.* So it’s a more trusted relationship with the customer – Prommt is reliable and can get the message to the customer – we don’t need to keep going back looking for their credit card details. So customers tend to trust it.

(*Note: companies using Prommt don’t need to store the credit card details which are dealt with in a secure tokenised manner between Prommt and the company’s own payment gateway)

Iain: You mentioned that when you started there was a much larger balance of past due debt at the end of the month, have you noticed that customers who would have been paying through EFT have now moved to card payment, and if so, have they moved organically or have you moved them on to it?

Shay: Well we moved them organically, but one thing about change is you’ll always get resistance, changing payment channels is one thing, but by changing processes and making sure the right information is sent at the right time, changing the message and building our IVR and Online portals, but people were still slow adopters to those technologies because they didn’t trust giving their credit card details, hence why Prommt has come on – to keep your information secure. It’s just by building a relationship with the customer and making sure that you give them the information in a timely and accurate manner and deal with their customer issues and their billing issues in a timely manner- then you’re actually partnering with them in a service. And when you do that and you become a trusted supplier they will then pay because they know it’s a trusted payment. So it’s not the hard approach, it’s nothing like that, it’s just about working with them and partnering with them.

Eileen: Are there ever instances when you might want to take a payment over the phone when this type of technology might be helpful?

Shay: Yes, as someone who has done the Data Protection Officer exams last year in the Association of Data Protection Officers, it’s a question I get asked regularly, should I not be able to take the credit card details of a person over the phone? Well, is the phone system going to autostop when it hears credit card details? Is the phone going to be manually interventioned so that it stops recording at that point? What does the customer expect? The customers expect that the data is dealt with and processed according to the GDPR. That really means you need to rely on a technology solution for that and not the intervention of a human.

Eileen: Do you find that the drop-off rate increases if you cut over to an IVR system?

Shay: Correct, actually if you can do both IVR and Prommt that’s really the best of both worlds. So if the customer wants to make a payment there and then, you can have the Prommt link sent via API with the embedded payment amount – you’re getting security and you’re ensuring the credit card details are not being given to the company who don’t need them to process that payment. It’s not up to us to know what kind of credit card the customer has, it’s up to us to make sure that it’s valid and that there’s no fraud.

Iain: Do you still use IVR for payments given the disadvantages?

Shay: We just have it as a multichannel option, most of our residential customers are registered to the portal to view and pay their invoices, but while they can do all that it doesn’t always work for a busy person, who may be sitting on the couch and they’ve just had a hard day’s work and they’ve put out a load of washing and emptied the dishwasher and they’ve done everything else, and they get the text to remind them to pay – they may not have the 5 or 10 minutes to go log on to their portal or maybe they haven’t saved the password – if they get a text with a link that they can pay there and then.

Iain: What’s your preferred payment communication channel now?

Shay: Our preference for our SME and residential customers is to send them out a Prommt link because the message is controlled, it’s formatted correctly. It’s our message, it’s our brand. It’s controlled and it’s on point. It’s edited by us depending on – you know, if the weather is bad… you can make it quirky, you can do anything with it. The Prommt really worked because we forewarned the customers that it’s what we were doing

Eileen: Customer awareness is key isn’t it?

Shay: Change is good as long as you bring people along with you. If you bring people along with you they will adopt and they will do it,. Prommt is ramping up and people are using it. AI is coming, and at the end of the day you’ve got to work with the model in technology and you have to give people the channels that they want to pay from. Cheques are gone. The government doesn’t issue cheques any more. People still use cheques, but they will be gone within the next two to three years – we don’t get cheques in here any more. People use EFTs in business a lot, there was a drop off in direct debits when SEPA came along because companies were afraid that customers could claw back.

Iain: To your point about EFTs, every business account now has a card associated with it – it might be debit or a corporate credit card…

Shay: there’s really no corporate credit cards any more, they’re director’s credit cards – that’s where we’re finding a drop-off in that channel as well, because a director doesn’t want it on his bill and then he has to authorise it that’s no more corporate credit card, so it’s even going to change more. EFTs are going to fall more.

Iain: How important is are security and flexibility in payments in your sector?

Shay: We’re in a regulated market and the margins are low in the Telco sector, you can’t give people control over everything – when they pay, what they pay – or you would reduce your margin overall. So you have to be very careful that you book the sale with a validated card – because you’ve booked the sales with a validated card it doesn’t mean to say that the customer can pay any way they want online just as long as it’s before the scheduled bill run that we would do. And I mean if a customer was having difficulty have their money within the scheduled time for whatever reason, their mortgage, car payments and so on – the Prommt service allows us to edit our payment terms more that we would have been able to before, because everything was a scheduled task, a scheduled push, whereas Prommt is a communication channel with all the functionality behind it, that allows us to morph more into changing our payment cycles, our payment terms and changing how we interact with the customers.

Conclusion:

Prommt has proven to be a success for clients like Magnet Networks and other service companies. It has achieved results by giving their customers a flexible, branded, user-friendly and secure way to pay in their own time, ultimately reinforcing the bond of trust between the service provider and their customers. And in the end, isn’t it trust that keeps us loyal?

A brief note about DSO:

*The most critical figure when its comes to Credit Management is DSO. A high DSO figures means that you’ve had to increase your working capital requirements to fund your customers’ past due accounts, and means you are effectively giving your customers an interest free line of credit, funded often by increased draw downs of your own bank facilities.

About Prommt for Credit Management:

Credit management can be time-consuming and it’s not always convenient (or secure) for customers to make a card payment over the phone to an agent. Prommt solves these headaches by plugging into your existing payment gateway to supercharge your collections with effective payment communications.

Prommt has flexible options for recurring payment plans, autocharge and express checkout. The benefit is that your customers can pay at a time that suits them while your company benefits from reduced DSO, reduced contact centre overheads, and overall increased payment collection efficiency.

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