The future is here and now - cars are driving themselves, computers are creating works of art and space tourism is becoming a reality. But while some industries are advancing quite literally at rocket speed, others remain stuck in the past. The debt collection industry, you’ll be surprised to discover, is one of them.
Currently, many debt organisations rely heavily on outdated analogue methods. Most use traditional communications such as phone calls and letters, and are still forced to fill in forms such as budget assessments by hand.
Despite a recent increase in the number of lenders and collection agencies that are harnessing tech, legacy systems and limited resources have meant that only a small part of the journey gets digitised (normally just the payment section).
It begs the question: why not increase digital investment? To that, we have no answer.
Going digital can:
Let’s explore how.
Waiting in long telephone queues with tinny classical music isn’t just irritating for the customer - the company loses out too. Commercially speaking, phone calls are time-consuming and expensive.
At scale, phone calls become costly and a team of support staff are eventually needed to ensure that enough agents are available at all times. Too many agents and you have expensive downtime with people twiddling their thumbs. Too few, and customers who might have engaged with you give up since nobody is there to answer their call.
To increase efficiency, firms often add strict productivity targets such as average call times or wrap up times. This prevents the team from building rapport with customers or providing quality support to those who are more in need. It can also create a negative company culture where employees feel chained to their desks. In turn, this leads to decreased motivation and higher workforce turnover, complete with the inevitable costs and issues of more hiring and training.
Using digital communications improves the collections process twofold. Not only are they much cheaper to operate, but are also easier and more satisfying for the customer to use.
We live in a world where people prefer communicating digitally rather than over the phone. Until recently, this trend mainly concerned younger generations, though as more and more technology infiltrates our daily lives (particularly since the start of the pandemic), an ever-growing number of people across all age groups prefer interacting digitally.
End-to-end digital design is key to success in collections. Going digital means implementing slick UI long after any initial outbound messages, and long before the payment process.
We hear the same story time and time again when we speak to lenders: the collections department doesn’t receive enough investment to implement new tech. Though this lack of investment leaves customers with a frustratingly clunky experience as soon as they fall into arrears, which can have a particularly damaging impact on more vulnerable customers.
To create a great user experience, a company needs a strong team. This includes (but is in no way limited to) a UX/UI designer to create an attractive and engaging user journey, a copywriter to craft easily-understandable text, software engineers to code and create the platform both front-end and back-end, a behavioural scientist to advise how to nudge different people towards their most suitable payment options, and somebody with regulatory expertise to ensure that customers receive the best solutions for their situation.
At Ophelos, we’re taking a radically different approach from traditional agencies.
We have invested heavily in a well-designed digital journey that puts the customer in the driver’s seat. We’ve integrated behavioural science and taken the time to mull over every aspect of the design and language, making sure that customers can explore and fully understand all of their options at a time that is convenient to them.
After contacting individuals via predominantly digital communications, we encourage them onto our frictionless online journey, asking pertinent questions to effectively triage users towards their most suitable payment options. This not only makes things easier for the customer, but it ensures regulatory compliance as it removes the scope for human error.
We do still incorporate alternative communication methods such as phone calls so as to cater for everybody, especially those who aren’t digitally-savvy. Though we are on a mission to transform the way the collections industry works, making it kinder, more informative and less intimidating for customers.
Adopting digital solutions is crucial to achieving this aim.