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Rethinking Debt Collections: Give Up Outbound Dialling & Pick Up Digital Channels

(LONDON) – The debt collections space in the U.K. is ripe for disruption: As outbound dialling performance yields decreasing returns, lenders have an opportunity to explore other contact strategies.

Over the last 18 months, core dialler performance metrics have deteriorated, according to Auriemma Roundtables data. A key indicator, right-party contact (RPC) rate, fell from 2.5% to 2%, a decrease of 20% since November 2017. Despite this slipping performance, firms have been apprehensive to retire their diallers, which have been the cornerstone of collections outbound strategies since the 1980s. Outbound calling is still relied upon to drive output, keep agents at the heart of the collections process, and demonstrate to internal stakeholders that firms are performing their part in mitigating risk by contacting customers to resolve their arrears.

Auriemma’s Roundtable members have often viewed the inertia associated with outbound dialling as a major hurdle in the adoption of alternate communication channels. To mitigate the decline in dialler performance, U.K. firms are looking at a variety of experimental solutions to improve overall contact rates.

Omnichannel Approach

Challenger banks by design have minimal telephony operations and demonstrate strong customer engagement via digital channels. Without the handicap of legacy systems, these firms utilise more efficient ways to support delinquent customers, primarily relying on live chat and two-way SMS staff using omnichannel systems. These systems provide agents with a holistic view of customer interactions across all channels and products throughout the account lifecycle. Consequently, agents are equipped with deeper knowledge of customers’ past interactions and can better anticipate contact preferences.

“Dialler-less” Approach

Recently, a few firms have tested completely switching off outbound dialling for the lifecycle of ring-fenced accounts and continued to track the progress of the test group. Inbound contact rate remained flat – disproving the prevailing wisdom that most inbound calls are responses to a voicemail or a missed call from a number. Moreover, turning off the dialler saves considerable costs and resources which can be reallocated across alternate and more efficient contact channels.

One such firm found performance improvement when testing tactical and precise usage of SMS, email, and live chat for customer outreach as a substitute for the dialler. This makes intuitive sense, due to the predominance of non-voice communication for the bulk of servicing requests and customer avoidance of answering calls from unidentifiable numbers. Moreover, missed calls or cryptic voicemails can further degrade repayment rates, as many customers perform Internet searches for these phone numbers, which may lead to incorrect information listing the number as part of a scam.

As the customer preferences continue to evolve, the way firms communicate will have to change to ensure future success. Auriemma’s Collections and Recoveries Roundtable provides members with access to industry expertise and best practises to support actionable improvements within the debt collections space.

About Auriemma Group

Auriemma Group’s mission is to give clients access to data and intelligence that drive decision-making. We provide information and advisory services in four areas: operational intelligence, co-brand partnerships, consumer research, and corporate finance. Founded in 1984, Auriemma serves the consumer finance industry from our offices in London and New York City. For more information, visit us at www.auriemma.group or Louis Stevens at +44 (0) 207 629 0075.

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