Collections is as much of an art as it is a science. COVID-19 has illuminated the complexities of a collections shop burdened by manual processes and antiquated platforms. Changes in consumer communication preferences and how they transact with auto finance companies have underscored the imminent need for flexibility and automation. The ability to integrate with data and communication channels and platforms to support customers at every point of consumer engagement is paramount.
We must know more and do more in order to meet the needs of our customers
Unfortunately, most collections contact channels operate in uncoordinated silos causing channel conflict, customer confusion, and major compliance problems. Technology adoption in collections has been slow in part because it is viewed as a cost center, making it challenging to secure technology investment for this influential part of the customer lifecycle. This last year is yet another reminder of how vulnerable servicers and collectors are to sudden volume disruptions, outdated strategies, and band-aid processes that can’t scale.
Fitch Ratings recently noted that “as aid runs out and forbearance expires, weaker borrower loan performance is expected to worsen… [and] there will be an increase in defaults for those who may have been already struggling pre-pandemic and those with longer-term job loss.” Despite these and other loss volatility projections, the industry is slow to adopt a sustainable solution that mitigates ramp up and lay off behavior. The lack of standardization and automation means that there are major disruptions every time there is a disaster, emergency relief or even standard collections events.
Unlike prior decades, technology is now available to course correct collection and loss mitigation strategies by enabling controlled, coordinated efforts that transform the customer engagement experience.
Highly integrated or “embedded” digital channel communications capabilities support a
more frictionless digital channel customer experience. Historically SMS texting, email,
and consumer self-serve collection portals were “bolt-on” capabilities that did not work
seamlessly, and/or cohesively within the collection system. By embedding these
capabilities into the collection system, collection operations gain more control,
efficiency, and effectiveness within the digital channel.
Technology investment boosts employee productivity and reduce non-compliance risk
It’s human nature to feel overwhelmed about where to invest and how to expand your digital footprint for maximum return. Fears of episodic investments or forgone revenue generating opportunities that touch larger parts of the organization can quickly muddle a well-thought out technology roadmap.
An investment in technology is often confused or hindered by a requirement to offset it with people. The focus should be on implementing a hybrid model that allows your teams to perform at optimal levels. Challenge yourself to look at an investment in automation as an investment in your people: equipping them with the right tools to deliver better and faster service to customers by leveraging technology.
New collections and self-service systems built with modern technology provide more automated workflows and integrated processes that enable your employees at every level of the organization to share accurate information and decision instantly. Unnecessary handoffs between departments are eliminated when automated controls and parameters create consistent application of relief options and collection strategies. This in turn reduces manual errors and the risk of running afoul of collections contact compliance requirements.
Above all else, auto finance companies can be more agile and scale while reducing reliance on core providers that may increase the cost and timeline of innovation. By leveraging technology and automation, operations personnel can more easily perform a multitude of configuration changes, adjustments, and additions “on-demand.”
Auto loan servicers and collectors must move more quickly to retain market share, grow organically and maintain a competitive edge. “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) software systems with transparent, self-service configuration and administration functionality are key to providing greater agility to react and adjust to today’s more dynamic environment.
Robert Fite has compiled over 30 years of experience in the credit and collections industry with extensive expertise in decision management software tools, credit data, risk scoring, and collection technology. He has held leadership positions with Experian, FICO, and LexisNexis Risk Solutions, working with hundreds of lenders of all types, sizes, and credit
products throughout North America. He can be reached at [email protected] or found on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/robert-fite-3003494.
Carissa Robb serves as president of Constant, a fintech loss mitigation provider. She most recently served as senior vice president and head of US Loan Servicing for TD Bank, responsible for servicing a $150 billion dollar portfolio of Auto, Consumer, Residential and Commercial accounts. She joined TD Bank in 2009 to develop the Loss Mitigation program for distressed real estate and built the governance and control framework for TD Bank’s loan servicing and collections division. Carissa can be reached at [email protected] or found on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/carissa-robb-a5a26615.