Case study: Eneco & Performance Management (Cwize)

Interview with Robbertjan Boerke, Credit Management Partnerships Specialist at Eneco

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Reliable data helps Eneco in the fight against debt

Energy supplier Eneco has roots that go back to the nineteenth century, when public utility companies first began to emerge in Dutch cities. Its development into the Eneco we know now, however, began in 1995 when the power companies of The Hague, Dordrecht and Rotterdam merged to form a single company, which then went on to acquire other energy suppliers, large and small, both local and regional. In 2007, Eneco was the first large power company in the Netherlands to adopt a new sustainable direction for its future. This direction continues to guide the organisation today, as reflected in its motto ‘Everyone’s sustainable energy’.

Eneco recently began making use of Collenda’s Performance Management (Cwize) services. As a result, the Receivables Management department is now able to monitor and evaluate the data and performance of its external partners. The department deploys a wide range of partners in order to identify customers with overdue payments, and to inform and assist those customers, all based on the same clear vision. Robbertjan Boerke, an external partners specialist at Eneco, explains how all these efforts are seamlessly aligned to the sustainable direction Eneco has chosen.

Cooperation with partners

To help customers, the Receivables Management department works together with a broad ‘palette of partners’, as Boerke refers to it. “This was a conscious decision. We deploy each of these partners based on their specific strengths. It’s also possible, of course, to work with a single partner that offers all the services. Instead, we intentionally choose to deploy the right partner or partners at the right point in the process.This yields real added value. Some companies are fantastic when it comes to contacting people by phone, while others are the very best at doing home visits, or in out-of-court collections, or in judicial collections. Each partner has their own areas of specialisation. In order to manage all those aspects effectively, we made the switch to Performance Management (Cwize) last year. Because within that whole process, you need a central hub to arrange streamlined access to all the data from the various partners. And you also need the certainty that every measure has been taken to safeguard the privacy of your customers and the security of the case files.”

How Performance Management (Cwize) can help

Eneco holds frequent tactical and strategic consultations with its partners. In the past, those discussions often revealed differences of opinion on how to interpret results and/or determine the value of certain data elements. “And then the question that tended to emerge was, are we comparing apples or oranges – or something else entirely?

Those discussions have become a thing of the past since we hired Performance Management (Cwize) to collect, consolidate and harmonise all the data from our partners, then provide us with reports on that data, including status reports, waterfall charts and more. But Performance Management (Cwize) also supplies us with the raw data, which our in-house analysts can then use to create quick and in-depth reports. To evaluate all our partners in a uniform way, we need the quality of the data to be extremely good. Only then can we get a clear picture of any weaknesses or areas for improvement. And if you want reliable data, you also need a reliable data specialist to facilitate it. Performance Management (Cwize) is an ideal partner in that regard. They also manage the distribution of cases to all our partners, while observing all relevant data-security measures and privacy safeguards.

Benefits at a glance

  • Fully automated import, processing & data consistency checking – 100% transparency between you and your collection partners
  • Legal compliance is guaranteed by a complete data overview – Cloud delivered and all data held in the EU for easy access and total security
  • Plug ‘n’ Play implementation for immediate returns – Dynamic, fully automated distribution process
  • User friendly: Over 50 user-friendly performance metrics built in – no special training required
Learn more

While customer cases are currently being distributed based on characteristics we have assigned them, there are opportunities for us to do better in that area. We want to use past results to take better and better decisions on two things: what is the next best action, and who is the next best partner for carrying it out. The order in the chain is an important part of this as well. In the future, we will be able to distil extremely valuable conclusions from those results.”

Smart, sustainable and affordable

As part of that direction, Eneco is putting the energy transition into real-world practice by offering a range of smart, sustainable and affordable products and services. “It’s true that we’re leading the way in this area,” says Boerke. “That course was set long before I came on board here in 2017. It all started with large-scale investments in offshore wind farms, large rooftop solar arrays and other sources of renewable energy. Today, we are fully committed to delivering sustainable power to every one of our 2.4 million customers. When it comes to generating renewable energy, everyone should be able to do their part. That applies to those with a very small budget, who might use it to invest in a tiny corner of a Dutch solar farm. And it also applies to those with deep pockets, who might choose to cover large roofs with solar panels or construct entire rows of charging points. We don’t want to exclude anyone from the energy transition.”

Small steps, big difference

Boerke studied Law at the Juridische Hogeschool Avans-Fontys and Tilburg University, from which he graduated in 2013. He stumbled into the receivables management field ‘by chance’ through a work placement at a bailiff’s office. He began working for Eneco in 2017, a decision that was motivated in part by the company’s vision on how receivables management relates to the goal of sustainability.

That idea – the idea of striving for a better world – is reflected in how Eneco treats customers facing problematic debts as well. Not only in our words, but in our actions on the work floor. Our goal is to always make things a little better for our customers. Whether that means big improvements or small ones. It’s amazing to be involved in those efforts. And to realise that even seemingly small steps can result in a major difference on the customer’s end. Our chain has been designed to allow us to help every customer avoid or find their way out of debt, whenever possible. Whether it’s the first time for that customer or they are already under guardianship.”

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Robbertjan Boerke, Credit Management Partnerships Specialist at Eneco

As a provider, you have a choice: you can take a wholly by-the-book approach, or you can adopt a customer-friendly and solution-oriented strategy to resolve the solution together. Eneco chooses the latter. When I saw that, I thought: wow, this is so cool.Our focus is always on doing everything we can to keep the number of contracts terminated due to non-payment to an absolute minimum. Because the vast majority of customers who don’t pay on time are people who want to pay, but simply can’t. Things are moving in the right direction: in the past year, our fight against debt has reduced the number of contracts terminated for non-payment by more than 85 per cent.”

Personalised video

To achieve this, the company has implemented a comprehensive receivables management process with a wide variety of side-streams in the customer flow to ensure that every individual gets the most personalised service possible. Boerke: “Everything is designed to provide the best possible assistance to customers at an individual level, primarily by establishing personal contact with customers who have problematic debts. After all, working together is the only way can we make sure that – at the very least – the situation doesn’t get any worse. The first step is always a letter or email informing them of the situation; after that, there is an increasing focus on contact and interaction. For example: we recently launched a personalised video, because not everyone can be spurred to action through written communication. In such cases, a video can be an effective solution – especially if you include the option to choose from multiple languages. The effect we’re trying to achieve here is that people will act more quickly because they understand the message, recognise the severity of the situation and accept that we want to help. The video is proving tremendously effective, far beyond our expectations.”

GeldFit

Together with the employees of the Receivables Management department, the partners play a vital role in providing the best possible assistance to customers with problematic debts and minimising the number of contracts terminated due to non-payment. Boerke: “The only way to do this is through personal contact. And that, in turn, means finding out what’s really going on in people’s lives. When you do that, you can offer individual solutions by truly listening to the customer, learning the particulars of their situation and then, for instance, arranging to bring in a mediator to demonstrate our eagerness to find a solution. We do this in consultation with other parties, of course, such as municipal authorities and debt assistance workers. But consultation alone is not enough if you don’t convert it into actions. Last year, for instance, we began working with GeldFit – part of the Dutch Debt Aid Route (NSR) – as a way to offer the right help at the right time. That kind of small boost can prove surprisingly helpful. Even during the current pandemic.”