Following the recent debacle of Centrelink's controversial new automated debt recovery methods, I thought it might be timely to consider if this is really the way to go in the future? Or should we still be going for the personal touch?
The answer for you, in your current role, will depend on such factors as the volume of debts you have, how complicated they are, whether they are disputed and the size of your debts.
My feeling about whether or not automation is the future, is, resoundingly, yes. Using the Centrelink example again, Social Services Minister Christian Porter, says that the automated debt collection system put in place raised well over $300 million, from 169,000 letters sent.
Automated debt collection in inevitable. It's already happening now, within larger debt collection agencies such as Debt Recoveries Australia, who utilise a fully online, web-based portal that automatically sends sms, makes calls, sends emails and letters. Most large debt collection agencies are already utilising automated debt collection systems, coupled with large out-sourced call centres, to handle volume recoveries. I believe for a debt collection agency to provide a good service and a good recovery rate, we have to be automated. There is no choice. If you haven't yet got any automated systems in place yes for your in-house collections, now is a good time to start.
Benefits of Automated Debt Collection
There are many benefits to automating your in-house collections. It may appear daunting at first, one of the most significant and immediate benefits to automation is a shift away from the clerical tasks associated with collections and towards the most important value-added time spent working with customers.
Automation removes the need for spreadsheets, makes it easier to maintain consistent communication, send invoices quickly, provide fast follow-up and calculate and analyse kpi's.
Collection automation eliminates many of these clerical tasks or at a minimum simplifies the tasks, enabling the collector to focus more energy on phone calls and follow-up activities. It is not unusual for a collector's productivity to double, triple, or even quadruple after collection automation is in place.
One of the most important benefits of automation programs is the availability of data and information within the system. Because this data is at everyone's fingertips, they can be more responsive to customers during their phone contacts.
Value Add for your Company
Automated debt collection systems will add value in four key areas.
1.Processing efficiency. Automated solutions improve kpis and free up time for you.
2.Lower Costs. Automating manual tasks enables you to handle a greater volume of work and concentrate on other tasks.
3. Enhanced Visibility and Control. Real-time access to complete accounts receivable details and supporting electronic documents facilitates workflow, reporting and analysis by eliminating the need for physical records. Automated solutions also allow you to better monitor employee activities and adjust workflow and account assignments to ensure performance goals are being met.
4. Adherence to Compliance Requirements. Automated debt collection reduces inaccurate information caused by human error.
Do your homework and don't rush the process. In the end, when the system is in place and your in-house debt collection process is humming along like a well-tuned machine, you will be glad you automated.
Debt Collection Expert and owner of Debt Recoveries Australia and ADC Legal
Mobile: +61 403 429 951