News & Opinion
When it Comes to Debt Management, is Your Billing System a Help or a Hindrance?
Customer expectations are higher than ever before and this doesn’t change when they fall into arrears. As the country faces uncertain economic times, regulators expect engagement with customers experiencing a debt episode to be sensitive, targeted and appropriate. This kind of timely, personalised treatment is easier said than done if your organisation’s underlying technology is inflexible and difficult to change. Without a specialised collections system, it’s even harder.
If you run collections as part of a billing system, it’s worth considering these questions
- Can you fully meet the requirements of your regulator’s affordability framework by offering tailored, sustainable arrangements based on income and expenditure where appropriate?
- What unnecessary costs are being accumulated if you rely on letters and phone calls and don’t use a digital-first collections strategy?
- How can you respond and adapt quickly to a constantly changing business environment if control lies in the hands of your system supplier?
A cutting edge collections system can help you to:
Use data to segment and personalise
Asking the right questions of your data can inform your collections operation, target your actions and engagements, and save time and resources. The right information helps to eliminate wasted effort and improve customer experience. In the contact centre, smart decisioning can help agents to make consistent and quick decisions by providing them with information that is always up to date. Data can help to ensure that every engagement is appropriate, timely and consistent. Conversely, by eliminating irrelevant data, engagements can be targeted, concise and efficient.
It makes sense to focus agent activity on accounts that really need it. Digital self-service can take care of the majority, including those who have simply forgotten to pay or those who need that first nudge, as well as customers who need a payment plan or create a promise to pay. In fact, results show that digital is highly effective across the whole debt cycle. In addition to cost savings, self-service provides a convenient form of engagement for people who struggle with or dislike phone calls.
Protect reputation, reduce churn and build relationships
In sectors with significant customer churn, price pressures and high acquisition costs, the importance of building lasting relationships cannot be overstated and in the case of digital interaction, how this can be achieved should be carefully considered. Every digital journey must be clear, obvious and use the minimum number of steps to achieve its purpose. There should be fuss-free sign-on and the capability to offer personalised journeys in the context of each customer’s circumstances, including if they are experiencing vulnerable circumstances.
Meanwhile, at the contact centre, with digital taking a high proportion of engagements, staff are given the space to resolve more complex cases with less time pressure, and customers find they can get through to the most appropriate advisor more quickly. To comply with best practice and meet regulation, sophisticated business process modelling techniques can be used to ensure potentially vulnerable customers are identified and managed appropriately.
Stay in control
We have moved on from the days when only the supplier held the key to making changes to a system. It is not feasible, in today’s fast-moving business environment, to be allocated a distant date for a relatively simple change or to wait years for an upgrade. Collections teams can now configure messaging, change branding, change the order of comms or the way customers are segmented and configure strategies to accommodate new business or regulatory requirements. Upgrades are obsolete, replaced by a culture of continual improvement with new features and system updates rolled out regularly.
There are times when speciality counts. This is particularly true of collections with its high sensitivity and strict regulation. It’s also increasingly the case as letters and phone calls fall out of favour. It makes sense in terms of revenue collected and keeping costs and staffing commitments under control. In a competitive marketplace, organisations relying on sub-optimal systems are exposed to an unappealing combination of additional costs and sluggish customer service, inevitably hitting profitability and consumer reputation.