I launched the Credit & Collections Technology Awards in 2017 to highlight the success of technological innovation within the UK credit and collections industry.

Over the years, I have attended many conferences which have discussed the theme of technology and customer outcomes during the day but not celebrated the achievements of such at the dinners which followed. The awards, therefore, seemed like the next logical step towards rewarding, recognising, and celebrating technology and innovation in the sector. Its aim is simple – to create a transparent awards scheme whereby the entries provide measurable metrics which demonstrate excellence.

Technology can help enhance reputation, strengthen performance, enable growth, and create the trust to enable better processes. For software providers, the awards ceremony is a valuable recognition of a company’s products and services, and for credit and collections companies, it is an opportunity to view future innovation, assess solutions, focus on customer experience, and examine whether specific technology can enhance industry best practice. Although the initiative was designed specifically for this niche industry, it is also a chance to showcase the innovative work that is happening within the sector to the wider world.

The awards ceremony was purely online in its first year and this created a real buzz around the work being done in the sector. However, for the second year, I am teaming up with the Credit Services Association (CSA), the UK trade body for the debt collection and debt purchase sectors, to make it into a co-branded live event as part of its UK Credit & Collections Conference 2018. The CSA was keen to reflect the Association’s growing recognition of technology as being vital to the future success of its members and other businesses in the sector. The online element of the awards will still be important, but peers will now be able to come together to network face to face and celebrate in person.

Why the focus on technology?

This is a natural evolution for the debt collection sector; an industry which has had to relentlessly innovate to survive. With customer outcomes/preferences at the forefront, credit and collections companies have had to look at completely new ways to interact with customers. Privacy and convenience are king and although human interaction on the most sensitive of issues is still important, using technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to make life easier for customers, clients, and credit/collections professionals will be vital for future success. The idea is to free up agent time for more quality customer engagement while putting the customer in control of what can otherwise feel like a powerless situation. However, this all has to be done with an incredibly complex regulatory framework which requires some seriously innovative and compliant thinking.

The credit and collections sector has already transformed the way it works for the benefit of both customers and the bottom line, and many are looking ahead to put plans in place to address future challenges posed by an ever-evolving customer and digital landscape. As the industry trade body, the CSA is leading the charge on raising standards and enabling best practice including recently launching a Technology Portfolio for its members and introducing CSA Supplier Membership to allow technology providers to share insight into future trends and tools with current members.

Credit where it’s due

The awards have been specifically designed to recognise the most forward-thinking of businesses in the sector and to shine a light on how technological innovation is helping to enhance the best customer outcomes. Award categories covering areas like ‘Innovation Leaders’ and ‘Engagement Tools’ set a benchmark for where the industry needs to be. Many of the categories allow entrants to enter in conjunction with a strategic partner which perfectly demonstrates how much collaboration there is happening between technology providers, credit and collections companies, and client organisations.

A winning partnership

The CSA’s award-winning UK Credit & Collections Conference has become known for its high quality content which has included streams specifically dedicated to technology and innovation for the past few years. Bringing together the conference and awards shows a commitment to collaboration and best practice and puts technology and innovation at centre stage.

Entries are open until 5 July 2018 and all categories (which are for both individuals and companies) are free to enter. The ceremony will take place on the evening of 13 September 2018 immediately following the CSA’s UK Credit & Collections Conference at the Crowne Plaza Stratford Upon Avon. Visit http://awards.credit-connect.co.uk/ for more information and to enter. The 2017 winners have laid down the gauntlet to see if others can outperform them in 2018. Can your company demonstrate innovation in this area?

Colin White, Founder of the Credit & Collections Technology Awards