From a southern European perspective, I would say: respect for the customer. However, if we regard this as a solved problem, I think that other industries have as much to learn from collections as we do from them: after all, we have a unique problem in that our customers typically don’t want to be our customers. If I had to point out one area where other industries are doing better, that would be “after-sales support”: it’s all very well to determine an optimal payment plan for a customer and set it in motion, but I feel we could be doing more in terms of monitoring that plan, providing sufficient flexibility in adapting to changes in the customer’s circumstances, meeting new needs as they come up (whether those include dealing with new debt, or providing appropriate additional credit), and helping with a customer’s longer-term rehabilitation.
One area not typically thought of as a “customer-focused industry” is healthcare. In collections analytics for data-driven decision making, we tend to worry about the ethics of essentially experimenting on our customers, and we tend to rely on regulatory guidance and personal experience when dealing with such issues, but one can’t help feeling that our approach is still relatively heavy-handed and lacking in nuance. Medicine has a long history of grappling with similar issues at much higher stakes: I feel we have a lot to learn from the field of medical ethics, especially as it applies to e.g. trials of new drugs and medical protocols.
by Panayis Fourniotis Pavlatos,
Director of Intelligent Decisions at QUALCO