For years now, the play in credit and repayment has been to have voice and digital customer communications running in sequence.
Recently, creditors and collectors have started to shift that order - starting with digital, and then shifting to voice.
But could there be a better way?
Call us dreamers, but we’re envisioning a world in which voice and digital are united, allowing lenders to:
- Extract data to plan approaches
- Shift seamlessly between channels depending on customer preference
- Improve communication with information from both
- Increase successful repayments
Our team of Avengers included:
Jeremy Nixon, Frost-Arnett
Jim Beck, Quanta Credit Services
Scott Hamilton, Prodigal
Jeff Simendinger, SIMM Associates
Here’s what they had to say:
Digital strategy matters
The panel members all saw digital methods surpassing traditional voice communications in terms of effectiveness and efficiency in the near future.
“Digital collections are going to continue to rise, especially as the demographic of the consumer base over the next 20 years changes. You're going to have a consumer base that's now been used to text messaging their entire lives,” Jeremy said.
Digital’s increased footprint in the past few years is due to a number of factors, both on the agency and the consumer sides. On the agency side, stresses of understaffing and increased financial pressures have led to an reliance on digital communications.
Fortunately, that need has aligned with consumer preferences for digital communications and self-serve access, and it has paid off - literally.
“It's a matter of giving the customer the best experience and to be able to handle their debt or resolve their debt at their convenience,” said Jeff.
The current rise of digital has revealed its future potential.
Jim recommended thinking about digital differently. “Digital has the opportunity to educate customers about who you are, and maybe lay some of that groundwork that that call is coming for those more complicated scenarios. Another way of looking at it is, ‘Can you make digital work for you to be more effective in the phone channel?’”
That approach squares with the shift everyone sees coming as well. Jeremy explained it this way: “I believe it's going to become inverted, where you are going to do digital first in more cases than not, and you're going to have the profiles that say, ‘Hey, they need a phone call.’”
Sharing information across voice and digital
Scott Hamilton highlighted the importance of leveraging data from both digital and voice channels.
“The new trend that is now available is to extract data from digital channels and voice channels to help with segmentation and offer more effective strategies. And that technology, that data exists today,” he said.
“If you can pull incremental data from various conversations to figure out, for example, why they're delinquent and use that in who you go after, maybe in what channel or with what message, it becomes that much more customized and boosts your performance,” Scott added.
How AI and machine learning (ML) are making a difference
Creditors, banks, and collectors already collect enormous amounts of information about their customers they could use for improvements.
And AI and ML are giving them the ability to make it happen.
“In the voice channel there are a couple of large creditors, banks, that are extracting the borrower's intent to pay from the voice channel. It's helping them determine a tighter prioritization,” said Scott.
“What we're finding recently is with our level of accuracy [using Prodigal’s custom-trained AI], we're able to extract borrower intent and can pull out: Do they acknowledge the debt? Do they have plans to pay off their debt? Do they want to pay? These signals are additive to bureau data and last contact data, last payment data and are incredibly powerful,” he added.
How to use what AI delivers
Since that information exists in the data that’s already being collected, and the potential payoff (quite literally) is so large, why not put it to use?
Being able to extract detailed information in order to segment, build personas, and plan will be vital, said Scott. “Are they going through a divorce, or do they have a medical issue - what's causing their delinquency? That information could really be powerful in terms of what channel you might engage them on or more importantly, what message or offer you might want to use when you do.”
The power lies in moving forward
Scott stressed the fact that there is so much more in the customer interactions we’re already having that could help us approach customers more effectively, but using old systems is holding us back.
“There's probably a good quarter of your voice file that doesn't doesn't want to talk, or they've shown signs of escalating or complaining or DNC-ing or really negative sentiment. Yet the disposition codes often don't reflect that. If that could be exposed and shared, how powerful would that be?”