Bad debt continues to be a big problem for utility businesses. Last year a major report from Ofwat and PwC highlighted the amount of revenue owed to water providers alone has topped £2.2 billion. But while addressing this must be a clear priority, the need to safeguard valuable customer relationships, as well as vulnerable consumers, remains a key priority.
This calls for a more efficient, customer-focused method of recovering debt. The good news is the latest developments in technology, such as robotic process automation (RPA) – powered by next generation artificial intelligence – can deliver this transformation in revenue collection.
Debbie said: “The headline benefit of having autonomous support, from a collection function’s perspective, is a boost in efficiency that reduces costs. But, it’s not just about productivity gains. RPA can also be used to free up employees to focus on complex cases of debt recovery that require a more human touch and to identify vulnerable customers who warrant a bespoke approach earlier in the collections process. It’s an advantage that fits the utility industry’s requirements perfectly.
“The benefits automation can offer a collections department will accelerate as the technology is integrated with more advanced AI. At the moment, automated systems that support agents are rule-based and require a significant amount of human supervision. But soon, automated systems will be able to comprehend the nuances of human speech and recognise more complex patterns in processes.
“This means the scope and scale of tasks undertaken within the debt recovery process that can be fully automated, in both the front and back office, will leap forward. Eventually, utilities will be able to standardise, digitise and design systems with the integration of automation in mind. For collections, this means even greater efficiency, more support for agents and, ultimately, a better, more bespoke experience for customers.”
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