6 Questions a debt collection agency must answer in the digital age
The Debt Collection Industry is often described as a ‘hostile battleground’ with the landscape constantly shifting. This means to operate a successful DCA within this environment, you need to be adaptable and appropriately equipped with a response for the most common questions and be prepared to offer quick fire solutions to solve any issues uncovered.
coeo UK have drawn upon a vast collective experience and expert network to identify the most frequently asked questions a ‘Collections Director’ will need answering when making the decision to outsource overdue accounts.
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In this blog we’ve collated the top 6 questions and aim to offer you answers covering the direct and broader subject.
The list is as follows:
How can I get the best bottom-line results?
How can I get a transparent and immediate view of your performance and how does this help drive continuous improvement?
Our business is unique; how can you tailor your contact strategies to match our procedures?
How can you offer me reassurance and evidence that compliance is embedded into the company to ensure I’m not a risk to regulators?
How can I make sure our vulnerable customers are looked after and managed appropriately?
What makes you different to my current DCA and does it work?
Let’s not hang around and dive into the detail…
1. “How can I get the best bottom-line results (£)?”
Let’s start with the most obvious first. Ultimately a Collections Director/Manager is asking “Why would partnering with you offer me better returns than my current partner?” or “how will your company get my company the best bang for my buck?”
To answer this question, a DCA should be committed to three core areas.
- Focus – Collections and working with debt should be the day job. It should be what your company is about. When working with debt it is important to have a clear understanding of the huge number of variables that can confront businesses trying to recover outstanding money. The issues can range from understanding the optimum time of day to make contact, the correct platform i.e. smart phone application vs email vs letter, through to how to deal with vulnerable customers.
- Experience – The poet and novelist Paulo Coelho once said, “People never learn anything by being told, they have to find out for themselves.” Great DCA’s need to have experience on their side to help them find out what works. Experience means you can save time, reduce cost and focus on success. Here at coeo we have vast collective experience from an industry leading management team through to award winning agents, we lean upon that experience to make the correct strategic decisions.
- Technology – Our experience has unveiled that it is now crucial for a DCA to use modern and relevant customer communication tools and techniques. Your customers increasingly live in a digital world that is built around their convenience. Our success has come from offering a host of customer focussed digital solutions that allows 24/7 contact in the digital arena.
[for further details on technology please see question 6 below]
That being said, we don’t expect you to just take our word for it. We have numerous case studies and clients who can recommend and verify our approach as being effective from a revenue, cost and ‘champion challenger’ perspective.
Want to know more? Here’s our Tech & Services brochure
2. “How can I get a transparent and immediate view of your performance and how does this help drive continuous improvement?”
Client reporting has been identified as the best way to build and strengthen the client to DCA relationship. Enjoying direct access to activities and results makes sure the client stays an integral part of the process and in control. It is important that the mechanisms in place help that process be as fluid and barrier free as possible.
- At coeo we’ve developed a client portal for ‘on-the-go’ reporting and analytics, accessible 24/7 365 days of the year. We work with our clients to develop customisable dashboards so our clients can see the information important to them in an easily consumable format. We’ve recently transformed this into an app that provides personalised notifications to keep you fully in the loop.
- Customisable transaction reporting will act as handshakes to your systems. The frequency and content of these can be made bespoke to your requirements allowing for an auditable and frictionless view of all account level activity.
- We also encourage regular performance reviews to take place between dedicated account managers and our client. The information gathered and the feedback loop inevitably helps towards developing future strategic decisions and direction as the process becomes more efficient.
- Finally, we hold daily meetings involving Director level expertise on performance and targets to identify opportunities and areas for strategic improvement and help the client feedback process.
3. “Our business is unique; how can you tailor your contact strategies to match our procedures?”
A tailored strategy is crucial when communicating with customers as it allows your business to continue to stay connected with your customers in a positive way through the DCA. Bespoke communication helps customers feel comfortable due to the familiar style.
When developing bespoke strategies, a DCA must consider your business aspects like your values and priorities, what tone and branding requirements are needed i.e. not ‘aggressive’ collections.
Things also to consider are, can your DCA match your processes in terms of length and escalation? Also, will they match your segmentation requirements i.e. risk vs value vs product etc? All touch points must be considered when developing a tailored plan.
As well as everything already discussed here at coeo UK we also offer a White Label Service where all communications go out in your company name, with your branding and are dealt with by CSA accredited agents answering contact as you. This service helps to make it seamless and less stressful for your customers.
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4. “How can you offer me reassurance and evidence that compliance is embedded into the company to ensure I’m not a risk to regulators?”
Put simply, compliance makes sure we follow ethical practices, laws, standards and regulations in the workplace, something we embrace. Compliance also helps lay out expectations for staff behaviour helping our team members stay focused on their goals leading to a smoother running business.
We understand the benefits of upholding a positive image is a must in this day and age.
At coeo we take compliance seriously, we’re FCA authorised, have ISO 9001 & 27001 certification, undertake over 300 business process audits a year and deploy practical compliance versus ‘box ticking’. This is all supported by libraries of accessible policies and procedures and a team of experts to monitor adherence. We also implement technology enabled auditing of our agents and the management of issues, complaints and risk logs.
The sum of our processes culminated in a win at 2019’s CCS awards for as an industry leader for Best Conduct & Culture.
5. “How can I make sure our vulnerable customers are looked after and managed appropriately?”
Customer care will always play a major role in our business. It’s a leading driver for customer loyalty, is often used as a differentiator when welcoming new customers and ultimately leads to increased revenue for our clients.
But not all things are equal. Unique to the collections industry we will often deal with vulnerable customers meaning a one size fits all approach just doesn’t work.
At coeo UK we separate vulnerable customers when identified and have a dedicated trained service team for this group to ensure they receive the appropriate care when dealing with their accounts.
We have also worked hard to build relationships with key Debt Management Agencies (DMA’s) to ensure suitable signposting and swift file exchange. The added impetus on ensuring that these accounts are up to date has resulted in coeo UK building a bespoke portal for efficient file transfers – making us a market leader in this area.
6. “What makes you different to my current DCA and does it work?”
The great thing about coeo is, like other DCA’s, we’ve built strong foundations on solid traditional collections models and techniques such as automated calls and letters. That being said, our ‘secret sauce’ has to be the way we’ve moved with the times, markets and embraced technology. Our approach of a ‘tradition and technology fusion’ gives us the ability to provide our clients with a full 360-degree approach to collections.
We’ve looked closely and moved with customer communication changes.
The overarching change that we’ve identified is that customers want to deal with their accounts at a time that’s convenient to them, have the ability to self-service and manage their debt privately. Interestingly, whether through embarrassment, anxiety or other, they may not always want to talk to agent on the phone. So why would they have to?
We aim to drive inbound contact by using a range of methods versus the more traditional approach of trying to ‘catch’ people when they are available through intrusive contact (dial after dial after dial…). We then ensure that we have the right response tools in place so that customers can action their accounts at their convenience rather than ours.
That being said – for those customers that prefer to discuss their accounts over the phone we have an expert contact centre team of agents. Our agents are CAI accredited and with the ‘not one size fits all’ mindset we split our agents into areas of expertise, so they are trained at handing different debt types i.e. commercial vs industry vs early or late arrears.
Want to know more? Here’s our Tech & Services brochure
coeo prides itself on its ability to find solutions for all client requests. In this blog we share insight to some of the best strategic tools we are currently using, giving our clients an edge on other DCA’s, but these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Yes, we have many more techniques and a development plan that stretches well into the end of next year!
Our bespoke software and inhouse designed programming has helped us quickly become one of the top ten DCA’s in the nation and we’re not stopping there.