Harnessing Technology Within Collections and Recoveries

Using Data to Improve Customer Experience

By Beth Whelan, Head of Debt Services Products

In recent years there has been a significant shift in the technology landscape which, if harnessed by the collections and recoveries industry, could help to improve the customer experience during what is often a difficult and stressful period for individuals.

At TDX Group we see our clients, across all industries, facing challenges of increased competition and disruption, regulatory pressures, along with the need to meet high customer expectations in an on-demand world. In this context, technology has a critical part to play in helping businesses meet these challenges and if deployed effectively can ensure a better customer experience and outcome.

Just four of the trends in technology that we believe are critical in enabling an improved customer experience are:

Cloud enabled technology

With increased competition, rapidly expanding data assets and security being an overarching concern, businesses are often left struggling to keep up with the technology advances needed to meet the high customer expectations in an on-demand world. Moving from out-of-date legacy in-house systems to a more agile and secure cloud-based technology is a solution many businesses are investing in. The move to cloud is about harnessing scalable technology to better anticipate and deliver on customers’ needs through being “always on and available”, “ready and agile” and “empowered and innovative”. In addition to this the cloud applies unmatched security layers and controls which are integrated into the offering as opposed to being bolted on.

Open Banking

The use of Open Banking in the collections process is an area where regulation and technology could come together and deliver benefits for both the customer and collection agent. If consumers are happy to consent to sharing their data, Open Banking could enable the part-population of income and expenditure statements, ensuring greater accuracy of information and the potential of significant time saving in what can be an arduous and off-putting process.

Additionally, in the same way that Open Banking offers a possible value exchange at the start of a customer’s journey (access to a potential wider range of products or services, better suited to their circumstances), it also could enable more tailored payment terms or a different treatment path when a customer is struggling financially.

However, as Open Banking requires consent, consumer comfort with sharing their data and access to technology may well be a barrier. For the less straightforward circumstances the collection agent’s skills, experience and the power of conversation is critical to ensuring a better outcome, especially for those customers who may struggle with technology or have health problems which prevent them from doing simple tasks.

Multi-channel and self-serve

One size does not fit all. Using the most effective communication technologies is fundamental to improving the rate of return in collections and recoveries and the industry recognises the need to offer multiple channels of communications to engage customers how they prefer, based on their situation and with alignment to how they buy and interact online. Also, traditional contact methods do not always map to customer desire to be able to monitor, update and resolve their accounts in their own time without interaction with collection agents.

While smartphones revolutionised many aspects of modern life in the last 10 years, this is only the beginning. The future of debt collection requires a different approach to adapt to new customer expectations, with self-serve technology stacks providing a seamless and frictionless process that caters for multiple scenarios and provides the human support capability where needed. We’ve even seen some great strides forward in technology available from agencies such as the development of payment apps. However, none can work as a standalone, additional piece of technology – all contact options and data have to be joined up.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the theory and development of computer systems that are able to perform tasks which normally require human intelligence.

AI could help the process of debt collection by deciding the next best action based on the outcome data of a customer’s behaviour and responses. This automation could enable the delivery of customer level decisioning, instead of segment level, based on each individual’s propensity to pay.

Collection agents could also use real time analysis to receive conversation aids, allowing them to steer the interaction to deliver the right outcome for that specific customer./p>

To summarise

In summary, although advancing technology is key to business success, changes cannot be made at the expense of the customer experience. We expect those companies who use technology as an enabler to improve and personalise journeys by using data and tools to make smarter decisions at an individual level will be the ones who truly transform their technology story.

Beth Whelan, TDX Group
Beth Whelan, Head of Debt Services Products.