These are extraordinary times. There is clearly much work to be done by the right agencies, authorities and decision-makers in the coming months. Debt collection teams, processes and systems are coming under enormous pressure and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. There are a number of ways that technology can quickly and cost-effectively mitigate the effects of overwhelming demand on services in the coming weeks and months.
- Collections departments often rely heavily on contact centre workers being in situ, and on normal staff availability. It could be that your operation is being disrupted by the move to isolated working, by the limitations of on-premise legacy systems and by uncertain staffing levels over what may be a considerable period of time.
- Organisations must continue to ensure all customers are treated fairly and appropriately. There is a concern that with systems under duress, customers in severe difficulty or in vulnerable circumstances may slip through the net, as lenders struggle with capacity. With an economic shock forecast, it’s highly likely these numbers will rise.
- The stress on advisors may increase as they cope with isolation, disrupted service and an increased workload due to absences. Dealing with a high volume of calls could adversely affect customer service and outcomes, as well as the wellbeing of team members.
How can technology help and how long will it take to make a difference?
The most pressing issues will be to prepare for increased levels of difficulty, to ensure appropriate staffing levels on support lines and to alleviate the consequences of absences due to illness or isolation. From a process point of view, digitisation and automation of routine tasks creates capacity and delivers reliable, uninterrupted service 24/7. From a customer point of view, it will immediately reduce call queues and frustration levels. Requests for forbearance as well as making payments, arrangements and promise creation can be diverted away from the contact centre workload. In addition, digital self-service can easily adapt to take new special measures into account without fuss or delay e.g. short-time working or furloughing.
This makes it possible to solve a number of immediate issues–the need to serve customers remotely, to serve them quickly, to ensure compliance with vulnerability regulation and to keep the revenue stream, that allows the business to survive, flowing. A solution can be delivered remotely and will bring results straight away.
In collections, thinking ahead may prove to be the defining positive action. Technology is sometimes seen as ‘anti-people’ but used wisely, it allows fixed resources to be directed where they matter most, where they make the most difference to customers’ lives and to business continuity. It is a practical step we can take now.