Case study: Somfy

somfy case study

Interview with Naima Alagas, Financial Controller at Somfy

Naima Alagas, Financial Controller at Somfy, has been a satisfied Collenda customer for the past 5 years. S4Dunning was implemented in 2016. Since then, life in the financial department has become easier and the mountains of papers have literally disappeared.

Many companies and private individuals use one or more products by the world leader Somfy. For more than half a century, they have been creating solutions that simplify the administration of homes and buildings, thus making the daily lives of millions of users throughout the world more pleasant. Their motors for terrace coverings, garage gates, roller shutters, lighting and screens are known for their quality. Not only is quality important for Somfy, but innovation as well. In this way they provide smart home applications for smart lighting, smart sunblinds and even smart security that, among other things, better accounts for the presence of animals.

In short, they provide dependable and environmentally friendly solutions for a more comfortable, safe and sustainable life. Their goal: to make the lives of customers and users even easier.

Somfy offers its customers quality and innovation. At the same time, they require their vendors to offer the same high standards. With S4Dunning, Collenda has satisfied all the requirements.

Why they chose S4Dunning

A good provider was sought with the aim of innovating the procedure, simplifying it and make it more eco-friendly / sustainable.

The ERP module for dunning was quite inflexible and created mountains of paper, as all customers were being reminded by mail. The costs were proportional to this. Sending paper reminders was considerably expensive and not always even effective,’ says Naima. ‘We then began searching for an alternative.”

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Naima Alagas, Financial Controller at Somfy

The implementation

Switching software has far-reaching consequences. One cannot take any chances with it. The system has to be simple, user-friendly and, above all, efficient. Clear reporting, digitisation and effectiveness are high on the wish list.

S4Dunning gives you the option of seamlessly connecting to your own company software. This provides a smooth way of securing deals and following up on them. Furthemore, there is the option of taking risk profiles into account and thus ensuring segmentation. These components played an important role during the selection process. The flexiblity, power and simplicity of the system made us decide on Collenda.
Of course, we first conducted a thorough analysis. Who are the customers? What are the amounts? How can we ensure that the business relationship is not harmed by financial actions? How does the flow have to proceed?

It was abundantly clear that digitisation and e-mail reminders had to play a significant role. The same was true for phone call reminders and, as a last resort, registered letters. Because the sales and customer support departments assist the financial department with collecting the payment of outstanding invoices, it was necessary to have tools that would enable the departments to communicate with each other regarding late payments. ‘Involving the business departments was a deliberate choice because customers are important to Somfy. We absolutely want to avoid damaging the business relationship,’ emphasises Naima.

S4Dunning created a multi-channel approach that resulted in considerable costs savings, but that above all ensured better payment behaviour. ‘Unlike in the past, when we only sent reminders via post, 90% of all customers now first receive a reminder via e-mail. We are still aiming for a higher number and we are actively doing this by utilising our customer data. To this end, our customer support employees regularly carry out telephone surveys.

A Dutch provider for Belgian and Luxembourg customers?

Naima seems somewhat suprised by this question. ‘Yes, of course. Why not?’ It is clear that cultural differences do not play any role for the system and the provider. This is precisely thanks to our personal support. ‘We have never had any problems before in this regard. This is absolutely not an issue. Once something went wrong with special characters, such as accents, which appear frequently in the French language. S4Dunning resolved it without any issues, and quite quickly as well.’

The impact of the Corona crisis

Whereas the Corona crisis had a strong impact on many companies, Somfy was able to benefit from a number of measures imposed. They clearly felt the impact of the staycation. ‘Can’t go on holiday? Or to a restaurant? Then we will invest our money in our home so that we can spend our lockdown as comfortably as possible. 2020 was quite a good year, both in terms of turnover and results.’

With regard to customer payment behaviour, Somfy also has nothing to complain about. ‘Through good collaboration with sales, a sophisticated procedure and the effectiveness of our reminder programme, we succeed in limiting the number of invoices that are paid late.’

Naima says that they have 3 types of customers: key accounts, smaller contractors / retailers and private individuals. The key accounts are major customers who repeatedly make purchases for large amounts. They are mostly industrial companies that incorporate Somfy products into their own product range. The smaller contractors / retailers work directly with the end customers. They also (fortunately) buy regularly, though the amounts are considerably lower. Private individuals can make purchases via the webshop. Because of this, there are no payment issues with this type of customer.
somfy s4dunningSomfy has a large showroom in Zaventem. There, private individuals can see the products in action and in this way be won over by their quality. The showroom is also used to provide intensive training to B2B customers. Somfy prides itself on the fact that its service only begins where the service of other vendors ends. This contributes to a successful result.

The key account customers form the proverbial 20% that account for 80% of turnover. Because the turnover for these customers is so high, it is essential for our cash flow that they pay us on time. Fortunately, that is usually the case. For all late payers, large or small, we fortunately have S4Dunning to assist us.”

Personal support

It was remarkable how smoothly the implementation went. Naima has nothing but praise.

Right from the beginning we received strong support from Jeroen Jansen. He is still our contact person. We can always rely on him whenever we have questions. Jeroen is perfectly familiar with us as a customer and knows what we want. He easily resolved problems and also helped us further to adapt and optimalise our system. In response to the current crisis, we now want increasingly to adapt our procedure to our customers. He helps us think about how we can do this. Even our external consultant, a specialist in the field, was impressed by his expertise.”

It is not only the project manager who plays a central role in providing support. The help desk is also quite fast and efficient. ‘We ask a question via a ticket and it is quickly resolved – quite effectively too.’

Collenda thinks ahead

In the short term, Somfy wants a more segmented approach, one that is not so much regional – Belgium and Luxembourg are combined in terms of follow-up – as based on customer size and risk profile. The economic situation due to Covid prompted us to do that.

The point of departure remains that all customers are important. However, further developing the procedure based on amount and customer type is under discussion. When a minor customer does not pay or, even worse, goes out of business, the consequences are miniscule. When a major customer, a key account, does not meet his commitments, it can be difficult, especially for a company the size of Somfy.

Especially now, with the fear of a tsunami of bankruptcies, and payment behaviour and the credit rating of individual customers in various sectors being under pressure, the meaning of debtor management is growing in importance. Somfy is assisted by a credit insurer and brings in an external partner for collection following the internal prodecure, but for Naïma, it is abundantly clear that Collenda’s efficient S4Dunning software will safely guide Somfy through this turbulent storm. ‘We can whole-heartedly recommend S4Dunning to everyone.’

Benefits at a glance

  • Time and cost savings through automated, individually adaptable processes and workflows
  • Fast scalability and flexibility through application in the cloud (Software as a Service)
  • Available for different devices, such as cell phone and tablet, and in several languages
  • Reduced DSO leads to improved cash flow
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