Editor’s note: This is the sixth post in the Credorax Interview Series. You can see the previous interviews with Smart Acquiring Experts here.
In this month’s Inside Credorax interview, we sat down with France Blanchard, our Vice President of Sales Operations and Global Accounts. France oversees a global team with members in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Israel and China. She stresses the importance of mixing the right blend of customer attentiveness and technology solutions to achieve the most effective and optimized results in payment processing sales operations. She also shared tools team leaders can put into place in order to motivate and ensure strong results from a sales operations team.
What are your main responsibilities?
Once a payment partner, such as a PSP or PF, joins Credorax, my team handles sales operations throughout the entire duration of the relationship, from onboarding (all KYC gathering) to processing and settlement.
What made you join Credorax?
I joined Credorax because of its very unique approach to sales operations. The company recognized from the start that one of the key problems in the banking industry is the lack of personalization. It’s no secret that both consumers and businesses are wary of banks’ customer service, which can feel impersonal and ineffective.
To deal with this problem, specifically in the merchant acquiring space, Credorax has created an entire division – now under my leadership – within the company that guides customers throughout the entire processing lifecycle. Regardless of size, each partner is assigned a specific sales operation manager and an account manager whom they actually know on a first name basis – a rarity these days in banking – and are able to tap into them every step of the way.
Why do you think the “personal touch” is so critical in the payments industry?
I’ve learned that too much automation in customer service for the online payments space is a recipe for disaster. This business is extremely time sensitive, and merchants therefore need real-time solutions. I can’t stress enough that the biggest frustration for a payment partner is when their bank is not responsive to them. To prevent this from happening, every partner of ours has an assigned sales operation manager and account manager. The account managers not only understand the client’s business processes and technical needs, but also match their individual cultural and personality styles. The sales operation manager works in collaboration with the account manager during the onboarding of their merchants.
Is the personal touch more important than technological innovation and business processing optimization?
The human element is what drives the technology innovation and optimization of business processes. Let me give a more concrete example: In 2015, one of the sales operation managers assigned to a PSP in Germany noticed that in addition to nurturing his relationship with this PSP via normal communications – say emails and phone calls – this particular client needed a real-time technological solution for communicating with Credorax during the merchant onboarding process within our cloud-based Insights partner portal.
The sales operation manager raised the issue with our product team, and together they came up with a feature within our Insights partner portal called the “Communications Window.” This feature allows the two parties to communicate in real-time on specific onboarding details. By communicating within the portal, both parties save time and streamline the entire process within the onboarding portal itself. This optimization feature is one of the key reasons this particular PSP grew their processing volume with us within a year by 1,100%.
Would you say this “cross-team” approach is a competitive advantage for Credorax?
Yes. Our digital onboarding technology solution is one of the key reasons our clients select us as their acquirer. In many cases, merchants can be up and running in a matter of hours.
Yet there are many layers on top of the technology that affect a merchant’s onboarding process that can’t be solved by the technology alone. For example, a merchant needing to be compliant requires KYC checks by our risk and legal team. Issues can arise during the compliance checks; when this happens, we do not wait a minute and will literally jump on a call with our cross-team approach. These calls can include members from risk, compliance, legal and sales, and we won’t get off the call with a client until there is a satisfactory solution.
How important do you think it is to “connect” with your team on a personal level?
I think it is incredibly important. While I believe teams need a leader, I also believe my staff tends to work better in a horizontal vs. vertical organizational working structure.
My team is under tremendous pressure to learn very complex parts of the payments industry, from compliance to chargebacks. I want them to focus on learning and growing within the organization in a productive and positive manner. I think the most effective way to do that is to understand where each person is coming from on a personal level and to create a working environment that speaks to them individually. I feel so proud of my team and all of their personal and professional accomplishments! They are an extremely talented group of people.
Do you see any challenges in the fintech industry in terms of talent?
There has been a lot of ‘talk’ in the industry about the lack of talent in the fintech space. I can specifically speak in regards to sales operations, not on the industry as a whole. It’s a challenge to find people who are willing to learn the complexities of both the online payments industry and customer service. The team needs to be made up of a pool of legal, sales and merchant acquiring experts, and the sales operation team at Credorax has a nice mix of each, creating the precise talent needed for what we do.
I think McKinsey recognized the importance of excellent people in a recent report, where they noted talent as being one of the four key ingredients for success in sales operations within an organization.
What are your passions outside the payments space?
I have been very fortunate in life in so many ways, and I have always felt a pull to give back to society on a grander scale. I am able to fulfill this desire through the charity, World Vision, an amazing organization that allows me to sponsor and truly help a young girl in Ghana.
I am also passionate about fitness – it is a wonderful way to relieve stress. In fact, before my move to Europe a few years ago, I was a professional competitor, finishing in the top three of several fitness competitions.
As a department leader, I can say first-hand that people flourish most in their professional life when they balance it out with a fulfilling personal life. I believe this internal philosophy we have adopted about the importance of personal fulfillment feeds into the Credorax customer approach. People feed off of positive energy in a working environment – it spills over and everyone benefits.
We appreciate France taking the time to answer our questions!
If you would like to reach out to France, click here for her LinkedIn page.
Watch out for our next interview!