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Oct052022

LoadSpring Spotlight: Natasha Houston, Collections Specialist

Finance Spotlight Main Image

Our spotlight series highlights team members from different departments at LoadSpring.

Digital transformation is LoadSpring’s focus. Finance is a department that has had many advancements in what is known as “fintech” over the last decade. These advancements became especially prominent throughout the pandemic lockdown, during remote working conditions.

Another proliferating factor is digital literacy: according to CFO magazine, “…This is a critical pivot finance leaders must make to leverage new digital tools. While traditional finance skills remain essential, those with digital savvy will be in great demand.”

LoadSpring’s financial operations department balances this demand for digital transformation with good old-fashioned people skills. We interviewed Natasha Houston, Collections Specialist, to illustrate how she combines technology awareness with people smarts in her daily role with LoadSpring.

Q: Natasha, what is your background, and how did you learn of LoadSpring?

I have worked in the finance sector for 20 years, with my primary role being Accounts Receivable. LoadSpring was looking for a “rockstar” to fill a role in collections in the Financial Ops department. Collections are just a tiny part of what I was responsible for in my previous role, but I was VERY good at the task.

Q: How long have you been with the company, and what memorable experience stands out in your mind?

I have been with LoadSpring for over six years.

LoadSpring’s Spring Person Excellence Club, an all-expenses paid trip to an exotic destination, is awarded to LoadSpring’s top performers and a guest each year.

I was named Spring Person of the Year in 2018 and was awarded this fantastic trip with LoadSpring executives and my peers. These are memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. It is one of my favorite perks at LoadSpring, and I have worked extremely hard to attend four trips to date.

Q: What does a typical day look like—regarding your daily schedule?

Collections is not a position that adheres to a strict day-to-day routine. On the other hand, “mom-life” is. LoadSpring has always accommodated remote work, and since Covid, even more so. The flexible nature allows me to manage my work-life balance.

From my remote office, I handle various routine daily tasks. Due to the time difference, I first address customers’ and co-workers’ requests coming in from our London office. I post customer payments and manage AR Aging.

Other tasks I own are customer registrations, coordinating new accounts with LoadSpring sales reps and our customers, obtaining POs accordingly, maintaining customer portals, and various tasks the financial operations team assign during audits.

Q: What would you say is a vital finance skill—e.g., problem-solving, communication skills, analytical skills, detail-oriented, persuasiveness—that you use daily, and how has this skill evolved throughout your career with LoadSpring?

In AR/collections on the financial operations team, my communication skills must be top-notch, and my attention to detail is spot on. Being able to communicate sensitively and effectively are skills essential for my position. By its very nature, you develop these communication skills over time. Maintaining open, trustful communication with our customers is my top priority ensuring our long-term business relationships.

Q: Thank you for providing that kind of authentic, personal contact. It’s essential to LoadSpring customers: because they’re benefiting from ‘high-touch customer service,’ meaning they have access to real-life, human interaction—as opposed to automated self-service portals. What else do you enjoy about finance—from a bird’s eye view—when contrasted with other departments?

Accounting and collections give me a sense of accomplishment. Maintaining clean aging for customer accounts—meaning I keep them up-to-date and current—is a unique service that allows me to communicate with clients and customers regularly on an unscheduled basis.

Unlike other departments, which schedule strategic meetings with customers based on developing the business partnership or closing a sale, finance team members interact with customers more informally. Because of this, we must constantly interact in a positive, relationship-building manner—even if the interaction does not occur in a formal context. We are uniquely positioned to influence our customers’ impression of LoadSpring. In customer service situations, people tend to retain negative experiences more than positive experiences, so we should act accordingly.

Q: How did the pandemic affect the finance industry—any changes to your day-to-day routine, for example?

At the onset of 2020, our work model shifted to a fully remote workforce. The financial operations department and our entire company were “vigilant and proactive with our procedures,” as CEO Eric Leighton emphasized in a COVID-19 response statement to our customers. At the time, at least 30% of us were already working remotely—so the transition was natural, despite the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic.

By the end of 2020, communication became more manageable, adapting to the shifts in contacts for various customers, and we were adjusted to our “new normal.” 2020 was an incredibly challenging year, but I experienced tremendous growth overcoming the obstacles together with a very supportive team at LoadSpring.

Q: Is there any project or department/company focus you’re excited about now?

I am looking forward to the growth potential of LoadSpring.

Our LoadSpring culture strives to be caring, responsive, and courageous despite pandemic interruptions and economic uncertainty. Knowing this, I feel as committed as ever to my position, team, and customers.

Q: How would you say finance has changed the most over the last decade?

The technology of the finance world means highly automated systems. But trust with our customers is the critical factor that cannot be automated. An automated message can feel cold or be overlooked. That is why my high-touch contact when our customers need assistance is a success factor for LoadSpring. Communication is key.

Yes, the personal touch in customer service and support has been in exceptionally high demand since the pandemic’s beginning. LoadSpring provides an antidote to all the automation and chatbot fervor experienced by so many other organizations.

In a customer service situation, most people want to be treated with kindness and respect (in addition to finding a quick solution to the problem) and to speak with a human being rather than a robot. We hope our legendary customer service—in collections, finance, customer support, or any other department—continues to be outstanding, leaving people feeling more like partners or family than mere customers.

All our departments—from our Customer Support team to Finance Operations to Marketing—always strive to demonstrate exemplary, warm outreach. We hope you’d agree. Let us know your thoughts on this second profile in our LoadSpring Spotlight Series. Stay tuned for more employee profiles, and if you’re looking for either a next-generation project platform or a next-generation career, get in touch: we’d love to hear from you.

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