RP Sanjiv Goenka Group

The debt reset: Why it’s time to disrupt debt collection with kindness

Sundara Sukavanam
Sundara Sukavanam
Chief Digital Officer
Estimated reading time : 3 Minutes

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I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness recently.

The pandemic exposed the inequalities in our society. It also reminded us of what it means to be human—to be vulnerable.  During the darkest hours, we were surrounded by stories of people who’d gone out of their way, perhaps risked their own lives, to make things better for others.

Kindness is a choice

At work, as it is in life, kindness is a choice. I believe it’s also an obligation, and a vital strategy for the future of debt collection Let’s face it. Business as usual isn’t the best way forward for most organizations. We owe it to ourselves, and to each other, to find better ways.

Don’t settle for the status quo

“That’s just the way it is” has never been the way it is at Firstsource. As practical and pioneering solution providers, with more than 30 years’ experience in debt collection, we’ve put the full force of our energy and expertise into blasting convention out of the water, developing a powerful new blueprint for debt collection that’s driven by empathy, and that delivers results.

Technology is giving us new ways to be kind

Traditional debt collection strategies that rely on outbound calling are no longer fit for purpose.

Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of intrusive, awkward, and embarrassing debt collection calls, and associates would prefer to help rather than hassle your customers. Innovative technology has opened up a raft of digital solutions that meet your customers when, where and how they want to be met and offer them relative anonymity.

Smart collection

At the heart of our digital debt collection model 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 by shaping a payment plan they buy into and are motivated to stick to. And it allows them to engage with you in the way that’s most convenient for them. Our transformative approach harnesses the potential of powerful technologies such as analyticsautomation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to streamline operations, boost insight, strengthen segmentation and targeting and deliver personalized, personable, and fully compliant campaigns. You can read more about our thinking and approach in our recent white paper: Collections of the future.

Digital is delivering

In 2018, 73% of customers in the late stages of delinquency engaged and made a payment when contacted digitally, with email and SMS being the preferred methods of communication.1 Now in 2021, with digital firmly fixed as a table-stake rather than a bonus, you can’t afford to be in this business without a digital-first, customer-centric approach.

Kindness pays

The Firstsource approach is kind to your customers—respecting their vulnerabilities and giving them back their pride. It’s kind to  your employees too, removing the most stressful part of their roles. Your business will enjoy the benefits of making things better for others. With compassion at the heart of your approach, you’ll recoup more debt faster, and the cost of collections can reduce to as little as 3% of total debt size. In 16 weeks, we got digital debt collection up and running for a leading US bank, improving average net yield per customer by 101% as well as sending employee and customer satisfaction scores though the roof. And we’ve recently reset debt collection for a student loan provider, improving results by 120% while consistently delivering customer satisfaction scores of 99.5%.

A thoughtful, flexible future

In a world where customers can choose which IOU to honor first, we’ve proved time and again that innovative technologies and thoughtful, flexible, consumer-driven strategies are the keys to competitive advantage. In our changing times, debt collectors need to unlearn entrenched methodologies and embrace new ways to overcome tricky challenges.

It’s time to disrupt the status quo, reset your approach to debt collection and turn up the dial on kindness.

Please get in touch if you’d like to share your own experiences and ideas, discuss the challenges you face or explore how we can help.

1 The customer mandate to digitize debt collection strategies | McKinsey, July 29, 2019


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