Can artificial intelligence and machine learning improve collections department performance? | Flexys

Can artificial intelligence and machine learning improve collections department performance?

9th January 2019 by Paddy Gilling

How emerging technologies can increase the amount of debt collected while driving down costs and maximising efficiency.

A simple definition of machine learning

Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems with the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of algorithms that can identify data patterns which can then be matched against individual customers or agents data to determine an optimal action.

Flexys Labs

Flexys Labs is the research and development division of Flexys Solutions using deep domain expertise in Machine Learning (2nd generation AI) and Contextual Adaptation (3rd generation AI) purely to enhance collections performance. The team is driven by a natural curiosity and enthusiasm for process improvement backed up by a rigorous scientific approach to data and analytics. Chief Research Officer and co-founder of Flexys, Joe Heath, has an MSc in neural networks as well as many years experience in the collections software business.  Research Engineer Don Liyanage is studying for a PhD in Neural Network Reasoning Using Case-Based Reasoning, alongside his work for Flexys. Software Engineer Keiran Sears, also a postgraduate student, provides invaluable support to the team.

Applying machine learning to the Flexys suite of solutions

Flexys has developed the Cognition solution, a highly scalable microservices platform to automate strategy optimisation, identify customer segments, define sentiment and identify vulnerability. Cognition can optimise early-stage collections by segmenting self-cure customers from ‘won’t pay’ customers and directing both to the most appropriate course of action with minimal agent oversight. This enables customers experiencing vulnerable circumstances to be identified and helps prevent such customers slipping through the net and receiving treatment that does not meet regulatory obligations. Cognition can also be used in late-stage collections to match an account’s characteristics to a DCA’s core competencies to ensure the best collections outcome in terms of cost and debt collected.

Cognition is delivered as a SaaS cloud solution, which can be implemented and delivering improved collections performance within a matter of weeks. It works seamlessly with legacy systems and modern digital platforms as well as integrating with other Flexys modular solutions to deliver a complete end-to-end enterprise collections system. It provides agents with a dynamically customised journey for each customer. This is not based on a stagnant set of data applied to entire cohorts but is a constantly evolving, intelligent and reasoned application of methods derived from your existing data. Each step of the customer journey is determined by customer circumstances in full compliance with business and regulatory objectives. Agents can also visualise the best option for next-step engagement with the customer and alternative steps when needed.

Measuring the benefits of machine learning

Any business that has a collections functionality has large data sets consisting of sales details, billing history, payment records, and customer information. Most organisations keep this data as a system of records for procedural and regulatory requirements. However, holding this data in the system requires additional costs including storage, back and recovery maintenance/procedure, compliance-based data protection and security procedures. Today, organisations can bring machine learning into core business processes that are connected with the business’s data streams to improve their decision-making processes through real-time learning and to turn a ‘cost’ into a benefit.


  • Lower cost to collect through more accurate treatment of customers.
  • Increasing recovery rates from late-stage debts.
  • Optimising values of debt sales.
  • Protecting your business reputation with customers and consumers.
  • Helps rehabilitate customers and build loyalty.
  • Reduce call centre workloads

Fast-tracking new developments

Flexys has been awarded an Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership to collaborate with artificial intelligence experts at The University of the West of England. This partnership will develop methods to identify next best action on an individual level (segment of one) within collections, taking advantage of the latest research and driving real-world benefits. We are already looking at the potential use of Open Banking in the collections environment and the use of sentiment analysis to help determine the customer journey. Flexys aims to bring the very best of research and development to make real business benefits for our collections software customers. It’s an ongoing process to ensure our cutting-edge technology and innovation stays ahead of the game.

Read more about the Flexys suite of collections solutions at

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