Let’s re-write the story of debt collection

Raji Raghavan
Head - Marketing & Communications
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Before Les Misérables was a musical, it was a great big novel by French literary giant Victor Hugo.

When he wasn’t busy writing, Hugo was a prolific social commentator and campaigner. For him, debt and dignity were inextricably linked. Much of the plot of ‘Les Mis’ is driven by the way people choose to repay their debts. It also hones in on the meaning of dignity amongst those with little or no money.

Monsieur Hugo had an opinion on creditors too, writing (not in ‘Les Mis’) that, “A creditor owns your dignity and can command it.”

Dignity—a sense of pride in yourself, self-respect—is a basic human need, and yet one that is under threat in the face of debt. The ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ fix may be driven by necessity, or it may deliver a temporary hit, but the longer-term side-effects of debt are truly debilitating.

Financial difficulties are a common cause of stress, and the stigma associated with debt can make it hard for those in trouble to reach out for the help and support they need. If the condition continues, it puts considerable pressure on mental and physical wellbeing. The last thing people need is intrusive and aggressive phone calls from persistent creditors. And, as all of us who work in this industry know, that’s the last thing any decent lender wants to do either.

At Firstsource, we’ve proved time and again that empathy is always a winning strategy.

At the heart of our approach is an engaging and empowering self-service tool. It puts your customers in control, making it easier for them to take a lead in resolving their own debt. It gives them choices and encourages them to shape a payment plan they buy into rather than forcing one on them that they’re less likely or perhaps unable to stick to. It treats them with respect and gives them back their dignity.

Our transformative approach uses innovative technologies such as analytics, automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to streamline operations, pump up insight and strengthen segmentation so your customers get the personalized and personable communications they deserve. Using a multi-channel approach, we ensure those communications can be accessed when, where and how works best for your customer. Everything we do is thoughtful, flexible and compliant. And, of course, digital-first solutions free up your people so they have more time to support those customers who want to interact with them.

For more on our thinking and approach, please take a look at our joint research with EverestGroup: Collections of the future . I’d love your feedback, and to hear about your own experiences of debt collection in these challenging times.

Experience has shown me that, with compassion at your core, you’ll recoup more debt faster and earn the respect of your customers. We improved average net yield per customer by 101% for a leading US bank while dramatically boosting customer satisfaction scores. And we’ve improved results by 120% for a student loan provider delivering customer satisfaction scores of 99.5%.

So, mes braves.
I think it’s time for a little more fraternité in the world of debt collection.
As experts predict a tsunami of debt delinquency in the wake of the pandemic, let’s re-think the way we recoup debt. The time has come to give customers back their pride by ensuring that our approach is as empathetic as it is effective.

At the end of the day, as Victor Hugo wrote, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

Raji Raghavan

Head - Marketing & Communications

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