Debbie Nolan, Commercial Director, Arvato Financial Solutions, spoke to Credit Strategy magazine about the impact of automation on the future of collections and how it will transform how businesses operate.
Robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) will offer companies across the collections industry the opportunity to drive significant new efficiencies and empower employees to build more productive relationships with customers.
Debt recovery is repetitive, process heavy and involves the collation and management of vast amounts of confidential customer information, usually spread across several different departments. When these processes are performed manually, they are time consuming and prone to human error, creating the risk that customer relationships could be damaged. Maintaining positive relationships is an essential part of collections if businesses want to recoup outstanding revenue without losing customers in the long term – especially in competitive markets where it’s becoming increasingly easy for customers to switch providers, such as energy and telecoms.
This profile makes collections perfectly suited to RPA. The technology works by using computer software to mimic human interaction with IT systems, following rule-based processes that can be closely managed. This creates an agile, virtual workforce that can improve process speed and accuracy – freeing up collections agents to dedicate more time to resolving complex cases, which could potentially involve vulnerable, or antagonistic customers.
Debbie comments: “But this is only half the battle. To fully leverage the efficiencies RPA can deliver, agents need tools to help them resolve cases effectively in a manner tailored to individual circumstances, safeguarding valuable customer relationships. Automation can help here as well, offering agents a system that provides a live dashboard of customer information and recommended actions in real time.
“Large scale automation is still some way off. But that doesn’t mean the collections industry shouldn’t start preparing now to fully leverage the benefits more advanced automated systems will eventually deliver. Focusing recruitment strategies on digital skills, while looking at how existing roles are likely to be changed by automation is a sensible place to start.”
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