| | Debt Collection Services

Is a digitalized omnichannel approach the key to better debt collection?

Collections should be viewed as an omnichannel opportunity that can result in better recovery rates and improved customer loyalty. Yet many lenders believe they should not invest time and effort into catering to someone who’s, perhaps, trying to avoid payment. Adopting an omnichannel approach to debt collection is smarter and easier for everyone, especially for today’s hyper-connected customers. Plus, an innovative omnichannel platform can be the foundation for digitalization of the entire collection process.

In today’s 24/7 digital marketplace which offers seemingly unlimited choice, many people experience difficulty in controlling their spending. At the same time, it can be challenging, costly and time consuming for lenders to find discreet yet effective ways to communicate with such customers about the collection process. With an omnichannel approach to debt collection, it no longer has to be that way.

New remedy for old challenges

Digitalization has transformed communication, and consumers now expect to receive streamlined communication via convenient channels they are familiar with, such as email, SMS or Live Chat.

The reality is, customers who drift into the collections process, are often not getting the discreet and convenient communication they want and need. Many end up feeling alienated which often results in them taking even longer to repay their debt, if at all.

We’ve found that adopting an omnichannel approach to communication and inviting consumers into a non-threatening dialogue via the digital channels they prefer, increases response and collection rates.

The rise of omnichannel

The collections process has traditionally relied on the manual review of vast amounts of customer data. It’s a complicated, tedious and time-consuming task that is sometimes prone to human error.

This linear collection process usually took place in stages, executed on one channel at a time — starting with letters, then phone calls, and so on. Since customers have now shifted to using a variety of more convenient digital channels, this approach is no longer effective.

At AFS, we’ve adopted an AI and omnichannel approach to meet these shifting requirements. We’ve found it’s a much more effective way to revolutionize the collection process, and give customers what they want, and have grown to expect.

In fact, PwC’s 2018 Digital Banking Consumer Survey found that 46 percent of banking customers are now digital only. Clearly, multiple channels can and should be leveraged when communicating with customers, including collections.

Omnichannel and AI – the Arvato way

A fully-personalized, truly omnichannel platform, NOC.AI, has been developed and rolled out by AFS subsidiary, Intervalor, and used with great success in Brazil for the past two years. It has been integrated with online messaging platforms such as WeChat, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and even has its own chat function; Noc.ai Messenger. These channels allow customers the flexibility to communicate through the channels that are most familiar and usable to them, thereby helping them to settle debts their way, and avoid irritating phone calls at inconvenient times.

The platform increases efficiency by automating previously time-consuming tasks, enhances customer satisfaction, and reduces the need to ask customers for information that they may be uncomfortable sharing over the phone while commuting to and from work, for example.

Here, machine learning is used to automate the conversation wherever possible, resulting in improved quality and processing rates and the prevention of human error. During the AI learning phase, human operators take over when the capacity to respond is reached.

The effectiveness of NOC.AI is shown in a study of a client active in the financial industry:
1. The actual payment of payment promises in NOC.AI is 19% higher than the actual payment of payment promises in traditional calls.
2. The numbers of interactions needed to generate a payment are 44% lower in the Noc.ai Interactive group compared to traditional calls.

Future of collections

Whether they are early or late adopters of new technology, it’s clear that lenders need to align collections with the shifting demands and expectations of today’s hyper-connected customers.

In my experience, collectors who can offer customers the channels they truly prefer, have the best chance of recovering more debt. Furthermore, they reinforce brand loyalty and strengthen customer retention.

Allowing customers to settle their debts discretely using digital channels they are comfortable using, reduces the stigma surrounding collections. And it’s also a solid foundation for further inclusion of AI and the basis for digitalization of the entire collection process.

At AFS we have close to 40 years’ experience in debt collection. We know what works – and how to include the latest technology to help remain customer-centric. By taking care of your customers like they were our own, we ensure we use the best solutions to serve as your backbone for growth.

More information on our debt collection services please is available here

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