Leading with empathy to empower customers while helping billers resolve late payments

Based in Calgary, Alberta, Symend is an Azure-powered behavioral engagement platform that generates deep customer insights using a powerful combination of behavioral science, data science, and advanced analytics. They work with enterprises in telecommunications, utilities, financial services, and more in order to empower their customers to resolve past due bills before they reach third party collections.  

Co-founders Hanif Joshaghani and Tiffany Kaminsky know firsthand how challenging and demoralizing it can be to deal with collections. Hanif grew up in a refugee camp in Iran, and after emigrating to Canada, his family struggled financially. They dealt with so many repetitive phone calls and letters from collection agencies that he still has a hard time opening his mail. As a young university student, Tiffany got into trouble with her first credit card, and has since recognized the financial literacy gap in schools, realizing how easy it is for people to fall through the cracks.  

These early experiences affected Hanif and Tiffany well into adulthood, and their stories are just two examples of the way debt collection can have a negative long-term impact. Symend strives to reduce that impact any way they can, for as many customers as possible.  

With the usual one-size-fits-all approach, billers often send impersonal late-payment notices, and then engage outside collections agencies to pressure people into paying late bills. Through validated strategies and behavioral science, Symend instead drives conversations that lead with empathy, which allows billers to communicate with past due customers more constructively. 

“Empathy is our North Star. It guides everything we do.”Tiffany Kaminsky, Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Symend  

Azure helps Symend take the pressure off during challenging times 

During the height of the pandemic, many people were either out of work or negatively impacted financially. As a result, intense pressures and skyrocketing call volumes stressed both call center providers and customers in need of support.   

With Azure, Symend has been able to create a highly scalable, secure platform to connect with these customers and to exchange and manage their highly sensitive data at scale. During these challenging times, enterprises are frequently unable to reach every customer in need through people power alone; at Symend, they’ve been able to reach more customers in an authentic, compassionate way through digital channels—allowing staff to focus their limited time on high-value tasks.  

By leveraging the Azure platform, Symend allows enterprise providers to:   

  • Deploy highly relevant messaging through digital channels to at-risk customers, accelerating the speed at which they can employ engagement strategies to help past-due customers resolve outstanding bills.  
  • Address late payers individually according to what data shows about their payment behavior. The automated program delivers warmer communications like friendly nudges, and non-threatening follow-ups, using algorithms driven by insight gleaned from behavioral science.  
  • Scale their outreach strategies in an empathetic way, while providing customers the flexibility, information, and self-serve options they need in order to better navigate periods of financial difficulty.  

Getting the right message to the right customer at the right time 

Since Symend’s solution runs on Azure, they leverage Azure Data Factory for large scale data ingest, containerization, and functions for improved DevOps deployments. And they use both Azure Cosmos DB and Azure SQL DB for performing customer outreach at scale. In this way, they continue to innovate in support of their global clients.   

Further, Symend’s digital engagement platform is able to expand the ‘people-powered’ approach to outreach through computing power, so they can accelerate the speed at which they iterate and deploy the right message, truly tuning into the voice of the customer.    

With Symend’s help, Canadian telecommunication company TELUS increased digital interactions with customers by an incredible 220 percent during the peak of the pandemic in early 2020.  

“Leveraging Azure, Symend is best positioned to serve top-tier global service providers and help customers at scale.” Hanif Joshaghani, Co-founder and CEO, Symend   

Digital optimism built on relationships 

Symend is using technology to transform the way service providers engage with their past due customers, while positively shaping behavior to help customers avoid collections. Powered by Azure, and with empathy as their North Star, Symend has been able to help companies scale their outreach programs, and do so securely—a definite priority, given the sensitive nature of financial information.   

“Having Microsoft Azure as the foundation of service helps build the credibility of our platform. Our clients know that with Azure at our back we have enterprise-level security and scale at our disposal to innovate the technology that drives our solution.” Corey Scobie, Chief Technology Officer, Symend 

The engagements that many people have with their telecommunications, utility, and financial service providers are often built on necessity, and these are usually not two-way relationships. Symend is not just helping enterprises prepare for future crises and wide-scale events; it’s also helping them build trust and loyalty with customers. By delivering personalized digital customer experiences, Symend allows their clients to nurture and retain satisfied customers. 

To learn more about Symend, please visit https://symend.com/ and follow the company on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram. To read their latest research on consumer behavior post-pandemic click here. 


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