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Choosing a debt collection agency for the 21st century

Gandhi famously said: the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.

This is also true of any organisation. The quote may seem out of place in a blog post about debt collection (hardly an industry commonly associated with care and empathy), yet due to the high number of people in debt who are also in vulnerable situations, it's exactly areas like this where we should be focusing our attention.

Lenders' most vulnerable customers often surface in collections. Sometimes, people fall behind on their bills simply because they forget to pay. Usually though, it’s because they have hit hard times and are struggling to make ends meet. It can often be an incredibly difficult time for these customers and companies need to ensure they get the best possible care.

How does this relate to outsourcing collections?

Outsourcing collections means trusting another company to support your customers. While this comes with risk (a risk that your customers are treated poorly, alongside a regulatory risk), outsourcing collections to people who specialise in helping those in financial difficulty has many benefits:

  • Reduced costs and higher profit for your company - a good collections agency will recover more for less expenditure

  • Better customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, reached through excellent customer care

  • Reduced churn

  • Reduced regulatory, reputational and compliance risk - your DCA should be an expert in identifying and supporting customers in financial difficulty

  • Gives lenders more people and resources to concentrate on what they do best - lend

What to look for when outsourcing collections

A fully digital experience

It can be really jarring for customers who are used to a smooth digital experience to then be downgraded to a substandard one (or in some cases have to deal with matters over the phone or fill out forms by hand). To make things worse, this downgrade comes at a time when vulnerable customers need the best service possible.

If the customer took out their lending product in a “self-serve” digital journey, when they enter collections they should also be able to handle their balance in a fully digital journey too. Many DCA’s are lacking in this area. Some focus purely on digitising one-off payments and while others have set up online repayment plans or budget assessments, they are often too rigid and don’t meet customers' needs.

When choosing an agency, make sure that they have a digital journey which is easy to understand, has slick and intuitive UX/UI and uses plain english throughout. Most agencies offer demos for you to test their journeys so be sure to make use of this.


Each lender or product is different and so will have different requirements. The agency you decide to run with shouldn’t tell you what they can or can't do and you shouldn't have to fit your policies around them.

Instead, the whole operation should be a collaborative effort. The DCA's service should be able to adapt and fit around your needs and policy rules.

The same is to be said of the tone, look and feel of the journey and outbound customer communications. You want to ensure that the DCA can speak to customers in a way that aligns with your brand. In the same vein, you should be able to have a say in deciding when a journey should match your own brand, and when you want to make it clear to customers that they are now being handled by a debt collection agency.

An adaptable organisation that grows with you

As you expand, the number of customers going through collections and the variety of your products may change. If you are supported by a DCA that relies on traditional methods such as outbound dialling then you might outpace the DCA as you scale, leaving them unable to hire quickly enough and retain high-quality customer support. DCAs with a strong digital model and automated processes are much more likely to be able to support that growth.

There are a lot of different aspects to think about when choosing to outsource. But if you want to drive growth and maintain an excellent customer experience for all your customers, choosing the right partner is crucial.

At Ophelos, we use expert product designers and copywriters to craft our digital-first journeys. We have made sure to use a model that can easily adapt and match that of our clients and have focused a lot of our attention on providing the best customer care.

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