Being an analytical company we have long obsessed about gathering and utilizing data from collection agencies to drive improved performance, as the focus of the industry has shifted towards regulatory adherence we now see that this same data is helping to improve performance.
As such, I spent some time with our Head of Compliance Management, Chetan Patel, and Lead Strategy Analyst, Rupert Wood, to discuss how greater visibility of account level supplier activity is helping their teams.
What first interested you in gathering account level supplier activity data?
RW – We started gathering account level activity data over five years ago on portfolios where we defined and managed the agency strategy on behalf of creditors. Our initial objective was to really understand the drivers of liquidation. Understanding the data better enabled us to modify our approach based upon the activity deployed by the agency, for example, by seeing that an agency’s collections strategy stopped after 90 days we were able to re-call accounts early to ensure they continued to be effectively managed through their lifecycle with no delay.
CP – We soon followed suit in utilizing this data as part of our audit and compliance activity, again with the first step being to use this new found visibility to target specific accounts. We could suddenly focus our audit activity on accounts where things were actually happening, and no longer review hundreds of accounts with no activity to find a small number where real contact was made.
Has this approach changed over time?
RW – The next step in our journey was exception management, this enabled us to immediately identify exceptions to process; for example when activity levels dropped or were missed on batches of accounts. We used this in conjunction with our agencies and were able to support them in identifying exceptions to their process, a great example being when we were able to directly identify the benefits of one agency utilizing a new data append, immediately tracking the increased dialler, contact and therefore liquidation rates, which drove a greater than 10% uplift in performance for that agency.
CP – Exception reporting has once again been hugely beneficial to monitoring an agency’s compliance, I can now immediately identify any accounts which have had, for example, excessive dialling or out of hours calling, I can then target any audit activity to these accounts to understand the root cause. No longer am I reacting to what I find through random account level monitoring but I am able to be proactive and immediately identify issues as an when they happen.
What’s the next evolution in how this information is utilized?
RP – In the age of ‘big data’ we continue to gather more and more information and utilize this in novel ways to enable us to be truly customer-centric and ensure that the customer journey results in the best experience possible. As an example, there is little reason recycling a customer who has just engaged in dialogue with an agency and has outlined their financial situation, to another agency only for them to have to go through the whole process again. Having this information available to all enables the industry as a whole to tailor their strategies to prevent this from happening.
CP – As the focus across the collections industry continues to shift towards compliance having visibility of what suppliers are doing on accounts will become ever more important. As regulatory requirements continue to grow so will the need for this level of agency monitoring; without the right technology in place to easily obtain, store and access this level of data, creditors will be blind to what their suppliers are doing, presenting a significant risk to the organization.