Simplifying a Complex Debt Collections Process

August 2, 2017 by Jordan Takeyama

Create a better consumer experience during the debt collection process

When most people think about debt collection, unpleasant images may come to mind, like relentless phone calls or collections notices. Whatever the case may be, the collections process often ends in a less than desirable experience for consumers. And, quite frankly, it needs to change.

Steve Platt, Experian’s Group President of Decision Analytics, recently spoke with American Banker regarding how banks and other financial institutions can create a better consumer experience during the debt collection process. While balancing consumer needs and managing rising delinquencies can be a complex challenge, Steve conveyed that the technology and analytics exist to simplify the process.

As an industry, we’re at a point where customer acquisition costs far exceed the costs to nurture existing customers through the entire life-cycle – from application to repayment. So, suffice to say, lenders need to rethink how they engage and communicate with their customers.

Technology to the rescue

Luckily, we live in an era where troves and troves of data are made available every day. We just need to help lenders leverage it to its fullest extent. For example, the right data and technology can help answer questions, such as: What’s the most effective communication channel to reach a customer? When should you contact them? How often?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to debt collection. Each customer is different. Each has their own unique situation. Effective debt collection is about knowing the difference between a customer who has simply forgotten to pay and those who may be struggling financially, and communicating with them accordingly.

Go digital

Part of knowing how to engage consumers is also understanding we live in a digital world. We perform many of our daily tasks through our mobile devices, desktops or tablets. So, it would make sense for lenders to help their customers manage their past-due accounts virtually. Imagine being able to negotiate payment dates and terms from the privacy of your own home. It just so happens that technology can make this a reality.

At the end of the day, the customer needs to be at the heart of the collections strategy. Each customer needs to be communicated with on a case-by-case basis depending on their unique circumstances. The resources exist to make customers feel like individuals, rather than numbers in a spreadsheet. And the lenders that appeal to the customer’s experience will see lower charge-offs and higher customer retention.