There is barely an industry on earth that hasn’t been powerfully disrupted by technology. For some, the disruption has proven beneficial and they have emerged on the other side leaner, healthier and ready to face the next century with a wider smile and a more customer-centric attitude. Whilst retail banking is one of the industries that has truly embraced digital transformation, however, the debt collections sector still has a lot of catching up to do. But the future looks bright.
Utilities are something many customers take for granted. They need them, therefore they assume they will always be taken care of. Utility companies are, however, just as likely to take their customers for granted.
In such an environment, customer service in the utilities sector has never been more important. Because if customers forget that they need to pay for their utilities, they will invariably fall into debt and end up resenting their suppliers. So begins an endless cycle of codependent resentment.
In certain locales, field collections have long been an essential part of recouping debit. But everything needs to evolve eventually. As customers and collectors alike become more accustomed to the ease and convenience that modern mobile devices have brought to their lives, all methods of collections should take advantage.
The solution to optimising debt collections is already being utilised by many financial institutions - a combination of mobile devices and routing algorithms to plan routes and communicate in real-time with debtors. It’s a subtle disruption that could make the process that much easier for young and old financial institutions alike.
Traditional utility firms are finding themselves at a crossroads in 2019. One path leads down the road of tradition - with outdated legacy systems, face-to-face collections and antiquated customer service solutions. The other follows close behind the retail banking industry into a digital future where the customer is put at the forefront of every major decision. The latter path is the one with real legs and it is one the industry looks ready to tread, but before the utilities sector can make a significant change, it needs to sort out its image problem.
The Nordic banking model has long been viewed through rose-tinted spectacles, but is that a reputation it truly deserves? Whilst Scandinavian banks might be one of the darlings of the European banking community, such pride often comes before a fall. So, what is the banking and debt landscape actually like? Is the region putting on a very brave face or is it really the land of milk and honey?
Debt collections is a complicated game. In the utility sector it also happens to have something of an image problem. Global concern surrounding energy prices continues to mount, and utility companies are cast as the bad guys in a situation they can’t control.
It doesn’t help that there has been a 60% rise in bad debt levels across energy firms over the last five years, with water utilities not far behind with an increase of 44%.
In certain circles, AI has something of an image problem. Even though it’s a major step forward in technology, making our lives better in so many ways, there are many out there who still believe that AI is going to steal their jobs. Not only that, but many more simply don’t trust the idea of a machine “doing a person’s job”. In fact, 43% of executives surveyed by Deloitte admitted that they have “major concerns” about the potential ‘risks’ of AI.