Case Y-Foundation

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Robotization enabled a new service model for Y-Foundation’s customers

Y-Foundation wanted to introduce a new SMS reminder service to enhance customer experience and operative efficiency. When the foundation’s customers’ payments were late, the standard way of handling it before was to send payment reminder letters by post. The foundation wanted to send the SMS reminders before the first postal reminder would be sent in order to notify the customer in advance of the outstanding debt, in which case by paying the debt straightaway the customer could avoid having to pay for the extra reminder payment related to the belated payment. With this they pursued to be able to stop the accumulation of potential debts beforehand by keeping customers aware of their own debts.

 

Y-Foundation also wanted to reduce its open receivables and customer service workload with the new process. Earlier that year, Sisua Digital had installed Kyösti robot to help the foundation’s customer service. The robot assists the customer service team by making routine parking space changes. Based on the good results obtained from the previous automation process, also the new SMS process wanted to be automated.

 

The foundation’s customer service employees already had the ability to send individual text messages from their system to customers, but this option would have taken an unreasonable time from the employees. Sending individual messages would also have been quite time consuming for the robot, so the process was further accelerated by introducing an external SMS platform from which the robot could send messages to customers from the company’s information system.

 

During the development phase of the automation process, critical metrics were selected for monitoring. The selected metrics were the amount of text messages sent, the amount of payment reminders and the number of outstanding receivables on a monthly basis. As soon as the process was introduced, the amount of postal reminder letters was significantly reduced. By monitoring the statistics, it was possible to observe the difference between the cost of the payment reminder letters and the cost of the SMS reminders – the cost of the text messages was only 15% of the cost of the payment reminder letters. Already with these statistics during the first year, the investment in the robot was justified. The direct cost savings in the postal reminders were the equal to the investment made in the robot. Sending fewer letters by post is also an ecological act.

"This was a whole new process for us. It was a really simple and easy process to implement. We were able to get this project in place very quickly. Especially our financial department has been very happy with this process,” says Noora Hirvelä, Y-Foundation's application expert.

Without using the robot-operated SMS platform, the runtime of the SMS message process would have been tens of hours – now the process takes less than half an hour

The robot handles the SMS message process in a fully automated manner, requiring a human to accept the accuracy of the data in only a few stages. The amount of humane errors in the process is also minimized when the data entry is handled by the robot into the SMS platform. However, the fte savings from the process were not key in this case.

 

In addition to the amount of payment reminders, the amount of open receivables were also measured in the process. The actual impact of the of automation was in fact in the development of the open receivables. With the introduction of the SMS process, the amount of open receivables has decreased by 10-20% on a monthly basis.

“In this process, the FTE savings were not that big. They maybe could not justify the robot implementation. But the impact on the open receivables was measured and the impact was ten times bigger, so it was very significant,” Hirvelä states.

The new service model improves customer experience – the SMS reminders have increased customers' awareness of their own debts and enable customers to avoid the additional reminder costs

“Residents get quick and easy information about their own debt situation on a monthly basis. Our customers have been happy to be able to avoid the reminder cost and more and more customers have been spared of the cost. Customers have also found it important to inform us about their own situation, and therefore we have been able to agree on possible payment schedules with them”, says Hirvelä.

The automation process has also proved useful to the Y-Foundation in other cases.

“We have been using this process for other purposes as well. For example, it is a very easy and quick way to inform our own staff. Also, during the postal strike last year, we were unable to send any letters in the mail, so we used this process to remind our customers about their debts. We have also been doing some targeted advertising,” mentions Hirvelä.

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Y-FOUNDATION

Y-Säätiö (Y-Foundation), founded in 1985, provides affordable rental housing to people experiencing homelessness or who might be under a threat of becoming homeless. The foundation’s mission is to decrease homelessness and to enhance societal justice. Y-Foundation is Finland’s fourth largest landlord that owns more than 17 300 apartments in over 50 cities and municipalities around Finland. The foundation employs over 150 employees in seven offices.

Benefits of the automation process:

  • The runtime of the SMS process was streamlined to less than half an hour instead of tens of hours

  • Customers are easily informed of their own debt situation and are able to avoid the payment reminder fee

  • The amount of payment reminder letters was effectively reduced, which is also an ecological act

  • Direct cost savings in the payment reminder letters paid back the robot investment already in the first year

  • The number of open receivables has decreased by 10-20% on a monthly basis since starting the process, which improves the company’s cash flow and liquidity

  • The company got a cost-effective form of communication which can also be used for other purposes

Author:

Paiju Koivula

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