"Organisations can improve collections and recoveries to the point where some at-risk accounts never become delinquent in the first place"
How can we do that? With data. The right data, fed into the right systems and processes, can give insight into customer motivations, risk levels and revenue opportunities, as well as improving productivity and performance within the institution. With more information on how they work, who they’re working with, and how best to produce the desired outcome, organisations can improve collections and recoveries to the point where some at-risk accounts never become delinquent in the first place.
Bringing in the policies, processes and systems is a process of digital transformation – a loaded phrase which makes a lot of people nervous, from the executives who pay for it to the collections team who have to use it. The main thing to remember? You don’t have to go all-in, all at once. Your digital transformation can and should be guided by awareness of where you most need to change; points in the credit cycle where a change can make the greatest difference.
Change is never easy, but we’re here to help. We’ll take you through the key stages of the credit cycle and show you how to choose the right tools at each point. Let’s begin at the beginning.
Change in collections and recovery starts with the very first stage of the credit cycle – debt origination. When the customer applies for credit, when you approve them, and when you The trick is to set the right credit terms so that the customer can repay on timeimplement the credit by setting the terms of the agreement, you’re setting up a potential delinquent. The trick is to set the right terms so that the customer can repay on time.
Successful change here is a matter of insight, managing the risk of customer delinquency and improving collections and recovery operations if delinquency occurs. The basic principle is prevention is better than cure.
A specialised origination system will help you work more productively, cutting down on paperwork and processing by making the application and approval process more streamlined. It will provide comprehensive risk assessment and management features, and allow you to respond to risks as they emerge.
Loan monitoring is your first line of defence against delinquency. It provides accurate risk assessments to your collections and recovery teams, and can create early warning systems to detect borrower problems early, making delinquency a short-term problem or potentially avoiding it altogether.
With improved loan monitoring, financial organisations will see fewer defaults, better risk assessment of new business, and less risk on existing business as scoring models become more accurate. Here are the core responsibilities that will improve your loan monitoring.
Be sure that every member of your team learns the EWS system. Early warnings improve monitoring and help you identify liabilities and risk sooner, possibly preventing a delinquency.
The loan may be delinquent, but that doesn’t mean your relationship with the customer is done. Delinquency is an opportunity to recapture revenue and retain a customer. The key to effective recovery is smart strategy, supported by robust tools that make it easier to communicate with The key to effective debt recovery is smart strategy, supported by robust tools that make it easier to communicate with your customeryour customer. The operative word here is tools, plural: a single interaction over a single communication channel is unlikely to get results, and too many banks are continuing to rely on channels that have fallen behind in terms of effectiveness.
The traditional approaches to debt collections – strong-arming by field agents, inflexible terms and a low-tech, on-a-budget approach to user experience inside the institution and out – are no longer adequate. A modern approach to collections and recovery treats the debtor as a customer, applying the same principles that banks use to streamline the user experience in other aspects of their business. Empower your customers to pay and most of them will pay - they don’t want to be in debt any more than you want them to be.
Best practice here starts with understanding the phases of delinquency: soft, pre-litigation, litigation and recovery.
You’re looking to accommodate their needs in order to keep them on your side
During the first two phases, the emphasis is on helping the customer find a solution. The assumption here is that the customer wants to pay but is having trouble; you’re looking to accommodate their needs in order to keep them on your side, minimising the number of cases that move on to the later stages. The approach is customer-first thinking, focused heavily on asking questions, providing tools and services, taking out the need for stressful and intimidating personal contact, and communicating.
Beyond this, there are five important approaches to take.
In support of this person-first approach, you should implement technology that enables this tracking, monitoring and communication throughout the credit cycle. A powerful and far-reaching suite of financial tools will improve the efficiency of your collections and recovery operations, cutting out unnecessary paperwork and presenting account data to people who need it.
"You can start thinking strategically, looking for the operational activities that will address these factors and encourage customers back into payment"
The best financial suites go further, harnessing internal and external data to help you identify, segment, and manage accounts at risk of delinquency before they slide into non-performance. You’ll have a huge variety of metrics available to measure accounts, but the segments are defined by you; you can see the factors your non-performing loans have in common and group them accordingly. With that done you can start thinking strategically, looking for the operational activities that will address these factors and encourage customers back into payment.
Digital transformation of this sort – introducing new and far-reaching systems for something as fundamental and often difficult as debt collections – is a challenge. It’s a major logistical commitment, and it can disrupt the culture of an established collections and recovery team. That’s why solutions need to be deployed with speed and accuracy. The due process – the best practice for your tech partner – needs to be followed carefully. It involves:
It’s important to look at the long term. Introducing new systems starts with announcement and consultation, and collections and recovery start long before a loan ceases to perform. If you originate credit productively, you can position the terms in a way that ensures customers will keep paying. If you monitor credit with a robust early warning system, with clear and data-driven triggers for pre-delinquent accounts, you can prevent at-risk accounts from entering collections in the first place. And if a loan does become delinquent, reach out to customers via the channels where they’re likely to respond, and educate your staff to engage with them on the best possible terms.
Great debt collections and recovery teams are data driven, intelligent, customer-centric and experienced. The experience takes time to accumulate; the right technology can help provide the rest.
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