Embracing the Future: Collections Technology in the 21st Century

Amongst the growth of change and rapid development we are seeing in the world daily, there is a pattern in our industry and it is a reluctance to evolve with the utilisation and advancement of technology.

So many agencies continue stubbornly to persist with out of date technology. Even some of the largest players in our field operate with systems that were built 30 years ago. They continue to outlay large amounts of money to sustain these systems, with little to no added value in return. The irony is, when they do want enhancements, the investment is so high because the platform is so dated and difficult to work with - requiring skill that is now considered highly specialised - yet they persist. Furthermore many small agencies still operate off spread sheets.

Every agency - large or small - operates on such strict time constraints with the collections process, skip tracing, litigation, reporting back to clients and managing trust and compliance; especially weeks 1 and 4 in any given month. So relying on obsolete technology directly effects productivity and results. When your collectors can’t efficiently access critical data when negotiating with a debtor, you look amateurish. When you cannot provide your client with the report they want, in the timeframe they need, you look unprofessional. And when you’re working back every night to keep on top of those things, it’s understandable that you feel like you don’t have time to find a smarter way.

Recently we computerised an agency that was still relying on written card files- collectors needed to physically locate and sort through relevant documents whilst conducting debt negotiations, and client reporting and trust management needed to be created manually from a ledger, then printed and scanned before sending to the client or accounting firm- which proved to be time-consuming as well as risking potential compromising of critical information. Since integrating onto a digital system, their productivity has increased dramatically, because they now have everything immediately at their disposal.

 

While the rest of the corporate world embraces technology, the expectation credit managers have of their collection agent can become crippling, as often reporting requirements have to be met by manually assembling data. The right system can compile reports in seconds, that staff would have to spend hours doing. If the software managing your agency can't do this, why hold onto it?

There can be many factors surrounding this apparent resistance to change in our industry; often we see entry costs for new software as too high, forgetting the long-term gains we'll see. Or we're so focussed on maintaining compliance and getting returns for our client that we feel we have no time to establish a new system, regardless of how much more productive it may make us!

Why the resistance to change? Are we an industry that is too set in its ways?

As consumers, when our mobile phone falters we replace it. Because it’s a critical part of our lives. So too is your collection system. It runs your entire business. Like the recent agency who took the leap and computerised for the first time, with the right software and the right ongoing support, your levels of efficiency can also be immeasurable.  With productivity comes savings, greater capacity to recover more debt and overall improvements to your bottom line.

One thing I have come to learn over the years is that trusting a software vendor is vital, so for us building credibility can be a challenge. But at DebtCol we are always up for a challenge. After celebrating our 16th birthday this August and winning our 5th consecutive Australian Achiever Award, our credibility couldn’t be higher and as we grow with the industry, so do our clients.