Collections Technology Think Tank 3.1 review

10th February 2022

Credit Connect’s hosted its fourth Online Collections Technology Think Tank 3.1 last week which saw collections strategies and the impact of the pandemic discussed by fifteen collections professionals from a variety of industry sectors.

The themes of collections risk, customer engagement, affordability, vulnerable customers and the future collections were discussed by panellists and Chair Vanessa Northam from StepChange. The insights from the event were recorded and re-runs can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Recordings will also be added soon to Credit Connect’s Youtube channel. An archive of all past digital events can be viewed on Credit Connect’s Youtube channel which can be found here.

Over 200 collections professionals from banks, building societies, motor finance, utility firms,  local authorities, telecoms, media, debt collection agencies, and fintechs were amongst the viewers across the four sessions.

Commenting on the event host Colin White Founding Director at Credit Connect said “It was great to see such a great mix of collections professionals take part in the industry panel discussions supported by the viewer interactions responding to the survey polls and asking questions at the event.”

“We have had some great feedback from attendees and intend to repeat this event in July with a face to face version of the event taking place on 17th November in Manchester planned.”

Commenting on the event, panellist, Chris Leslie CSA Chief Executive said “It was a pleasure to participate in the online collections technology think tank panel focusing on affordability and customer vulnerability. It was particularly useful to have time to explore the emerging cost of living pressures and the looming energy price rises, whether new technology solutions can streamline income and expenditure assessment processes, the issues facing vulnerable people and also whether IT solutions can realistically help firms identify and record customer needs in the right way.”

“Reflecting on the questions raised by the audience, it is worth noting that the issue of ‘trust’ will be vital, especially if there is a step away from the normal human interactions where a conversational connection is a traditional reassurance. Ultimately building trust in digital services depends in part on convincing customers that the use of these channels will yield results and help, rather than harm, their personal circumstances.

“The CSA’s Code of Practice sets out the protections and levels of service customers should expect whether engaging digitally or in any other way with a collections agency. This includes clear expectations in respect of data protection, confidentiality, tracing practices and the nature of communications.”

The next Online Collections Technology Think Tank will take place on Thursday 7th July.

If you are interested in speaking or becoming a sponsor for the next event then call 01622 437014 or email for more information. More online events will be confirmed soon.

Event Questions round-up

Responses to selected questions:

● Customers opting in for Open Banking to assist with income and expenditure has been very low. Do the panel feel this could be because it’s intrusive and an unknown for consumers or something else?

Samantha Challenger, Billing Finance: Trust and as I said if you can’t trust people in power, government or police why would you trust someone pursuing you for funds. I also think in some instances customers don’t fully understand and the stigma of the old ways still sticks that collectors will take more than a customer can pay.

Daniel Calcott,  Digital DRA: Trust is the key here, as Open Banking grows in popularity across numerous industries we will see customers are more likely to use it. Open Banking usage is on the rise and doesn’t look like it’s slowing down any time soon.

● Will new engagement media such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Zoom, Teams find their way into collections journeys?

Samantha Challenger, Billing Finance: Allowing face to face conversations to take place, which can help with tone and messaging. As with all things tone and messaging is important and it can be achieved without face to face and face to face only improves the situation if the person shows interest otherwise it could damage the experience. Insights have shown using colours help along with a simpler language style help. The easier you make it for someone to communicate with you the more engagement you will achieve.

Daniel Calcott,  Digital DRA: Allowing face to face conversations to take place, which can help with tone and messaging. I personally feel we’re a little of voice notes and facetime calls yet in this industry, but it is certainly an exciting avenue and one that I would like to explore in the future.

● Considering empathy during collections, how much of the human element do you think is still required with a combination of AI and another omnichannel supporting tech?

Samantha Challenger, Billing Finance: If a business has allowed me to communicate in the method best suited to me, that goes beyond empathy. So, if set up correctly omnichannel and tech is an improvement. Where it all goes wrong is if a journey can’t be completed within the chosen channel and a customer is forced into an unsatisfactory channel. Then all the empathy in the world won’t really help.

Daniel Calcott,  Digital DRA: Digital channels doesn’t mean you have to lose the human touch. Having multiple contact channels to make it easy for customers to reach out is key. I personally don’t like chatbots, I feel they can frustrate customers (they frustrate me when I’m trying to speak to someone), if somebody wants to reach out and speak to us I want that conversation to be with a human straight away, we’re much more likely to resolve the account that way.

● Any concerns around data protection/data ownership/data access while potentially using Whatsapp / Teams / Zoom in collection activities?

Samantha Challenger, Billing Finance: The legal terms and contracts do need to be clear but once they are there is no or little risk.

Daniel Calcott,  Digital DRA: None.

Selected Event Poll Results

How do you currently measure compliance adherence for your customer-facing staff?

  • Random sampling – 55%
  • Targeted sampling  – 26%
  • Speech & data analytics – 19%

What do you see as the most significant external barriers to operational performance?

  • Hybrid working – 4%
  • Economic/environmental factors – 49%
  • Change in regulatory requirements – 14%
  • Employee turnover – 33%

Can you tell us about the working week, do you?

  • Work from home (WFH) – 36%
  • Mostly work from home – 27%
  • Hybrid working (half at home – half in the office) – 27%
  • Work in the office full time when allowed – 10%

Have you checked how much your energy price is predicted to rise by?

  • No – 33%
  • Yes – I think it will stay the same or decrease – 8%
  • Yes – it will rise by 10% – 0%
  • Yes – it will rise by 25% -13%
  • Yes – it will rise by 50% -32%
  • Yes – it will rise by more than 100% – 4%
  • Don’t know -10%

Approximately, what percentage of your collections customers use self-serve tools?

  • Greater than 60% – 20%
  • 40%25 to 60% – 20%
  • 0%25 to 40% – 23%
  • Less than 20% – 37%

Are you able to measure how many customers have opened an email / SMS and what action they subsequently took?

  • Fully – 28%
  • Partially – 28%
  • Minimally -16%
  • Not at all  -28%

How much do you anticipate your household cost of living will increase in the next six months?

  • It won’t increase – 0%
  • It will increase by £50 – 3%
  • Increase by £100 – 16%
  • Increase by £200 – 27%
  • Increase by £300 – 11%
  • Increase by£400 – 7%
  • Increase by more than £500 – 36%

How many different steps do your customers need to navigate to complete a collections process? (e.g. fill a form, provide documents,
make payments)

  • 1-2 – 36%
  • 2-5 – 48%
  • 5-8 -12%
  • 9+ – 4%

*More poll results are available on request