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CREDIT MANAGEMENT Empowering The Customer Through The Debt Collection Process By Wasilwa Miriongi I f you visit our neighboring Countries you will realize how difficult it is to transfer a payment. This is not easy for any customer as their level of empowerment is low. The last decade has seen a tremendous emphasis on customer service and convenience by major organizations. In the banking sector for instance, results being today, customers are able to bank online at the convenience of their handsets – and this does not mean just checking their balance. They can make payments, save, apply for loans; all at the touch of an app icon. The various banking agencies that have sprung up in the estates of major towns have their roots in empowering the customers as well as accessibility. It is strange to see how far loan collections and debt recovery have lagged behind this shift to customer-first operations. But things are beginning to change. Many financial institutions are now turning to technology to bring collections into the digital customer engagement area for ease of engagement. of charitable or political donations, debt collection and market research. There is no gainsaying in the fact that a client focus in debt collection is not just a merely nice-to-have; it is a central component in attaining and maintaining a high return on equity. These changes need not be extreme or hard to implement. Maybe you could ask how can this be implemented? Here are a few you could begin implementing in the relative short term. Call centers have been in use for a number of years but are still, a ubiquitous feature of the debt recovery process. They have also become notorious among consumers for adding to the problem, rather than helping to solve it. This is so because a good percentage of consumers usually report having to contact a company multiple times for the same reason and being on hold for too long. Using Debt Collection Call Centers As impaired loan ratios soared as per central bank reports and various financial reports released by banking institutions, customer service suffered as many call centers became overwhelmed. While the traditional approach has shown that it can’t keep up with the customer needs. A call center is a centralized office used for the purpose of receiving or transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone. An inbound call center is operated by a company to administer incoming product support or information inquiries from consumers whereas outbound call centers are operated for telemarketing, solicitation Debtors want to settle their debts quickly and satisfactorily and could simply be unaware of their options. The question for lenders is not how to make customers pay: it is how to make it easier for t hem to do so. The answer lies with self-service. 68 MAL25/18 ISSUE This may be the reason why 24/7 online solutions are such an important addition to your recovery process. When consumers are empowered to help themselves, the call center staff are freed from the burden of fruitless pursuit. Instead, your call centers can be repurposed and refocused. Not all debtors are technologically inclined either - sometimes you just need to speak to a trained person. Well-trained call center staff should always be on hand to help resolve problems and help walk customers through repayment options.