Credit Connect’s latest episode of Connected News saw the theme of customer engagement within collections discussed at an event hosted in association with Aspect.

Collections professionals Gary Moffat Customer Debt Operations Manager at Centrica and Martin Kirby Head of Credit Risk and Collections at Business Stream were joined by Martin Alderson from Aspect and discussed the technological future and innovations within customer engagement.

Commenting on the event host Colin White Founding Director at Credit Connect said “It was great to hear about how the energy and water sectors are adapting to economic and cultural change in the discussion and it was also interesting to hear how regulation, open banking and request to pay will impact collections customer engagement moving into 2021.”

Speaker Martin Kirby from Business Stream said “Credit management has to embrace technology fully, it needs to take every advantage, but be aware, to quote Sean Gerety the technology you use impresses no one.  The experience you create with it is everything.”

The date for the next edition of Connected News will be announced soon. If you are interested in viewing or becoming a sponsor for the next event. Then call 01622 437014 or email for more information.

Some of the questions asked in the webinar (with answers) can be viewed at the bottom of this article.

A recording of the webinar can be viewed by clicking here.

Webinar Questions round-up

KEY: MK- Martin Kirby, GM- Gary Moffat

  • Do you use Rich Media Messaging in your debt collection strategy?

MK: We use this as our first key part of the strategy.  So yes, we utilise every day.

GM: At present we don’t currently use Rich messaging as part of the collection’s journey, but I do believe the opportunity exists to do this in future and to create more interactive messaging that allows customers to do a variety of things, e.g. something as simple as viewing a bill instantaneously even if you are not registered with an online account is an opportunity to improve right first-time outcomes.

  • Do you think technology can be used in customer segmentation?

MK: AI and ML certainly have segmentation in their reach I would state especially if this is linked through to many data lakes.

GM: Technology is used to segment our customers today, Natural Language call steering and use of bots in chat channels are just examples of ways in which we do this now. In collections we’ve introduced online triaging of customers to better identify and understand circumstances before we engage in conversation – this type of approach can help with handling/treatment based on vulnerability, affordability and contact preferences. There is still a significant opportunity to build on data-based segmentation with these types of overlays and the advent of Online Banking could help this process become more iterative and accurate as time goes on.

  • Do you think you can use technology to measure customer vulnerability and what are the best ways of measuring customer outcome?

MK: Open banking already has examples of where this is the case.  Credit Agencies are already marketing to consumers to share their information with open banking to support any hardship and vulnerability cases.

GM: See above on vulnerability. On the best ways of measuring customer outcome, I’m not sure of the specific nature of the question, but in Collections, % of costs on secured payment terms, ‘stickability’ of outcomes and e.g. 14/28/35 day cure rates are all good indicators of customer engagement and adherence

  • What impact do you think Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning could have on digital collections in the future?

MK: AI and ML can have a tremendous impact in several ways.  It can link through to data lakes and target the correctly with the right amount of intensity the debtors likely to pay and those that are having difficulties.  It can support existing collection agents with a never forget mentality, ensuring all parts of the collection journey are covered.  The list is endless of the advantages AI and ML can bring.  Tools like DOMO get this right to the desktop and so fast.  Every character is indexed, so a real google engine on the data.  Link this further with natural language processing and the self-serve dream becomes a reality.

GM: I think there’s more scope to incorporate new AI technologies into collections strategies, Open Banking is a prime example of this, but the challenge will be deploying automated algorithms at scale and still being able to tend to affordability and vulnerability obligations, particularly in Utilities and Fin Services. Debt Management systems that can ingest data effectively would seem to be the way forward here. Rigid CRM systems present real challenges (cost and logistics) in absorbing and utilising data to drive decision making on (digital) contact channels, so for me, there is an opportunity to develop component-based predictive analytics tools capable of using new data sources effectively to drive strategic planning.

Poll Results

What has been your most successful collections engagement method during lockdown?

  • Telephone calls 30%
  • Emails 16%
  • SMS Texts 16%
  • Whatsapp and/or conversational software 28%
  • Chatbots 5%
  • Other 5%