Getting Through Collections Center Knowns and Unknowns in 2020

“If I can just keep everything together for a few more weeks, we’ll make it through this.”

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been saying that about pretty much everything for the last six or seven months. Whether it’s my kids’ schools, the economy or a never-ending bathroom renovation, I’m desperately seeking some normalcy in my life. And I want you to have some, too. But after seven months of complete weirdness, I believe we need to radically shift how we think about our lives and businesses — and do our best to future-proof our accounts receivable management (ARM) operations for the long haul.

The Latitude team at Genesys meets regularly with our Latitude Advisory Board (ARM customers, insiders and partners) to ask them what they’re thinking. We used to talk primarily about features and functionality for the LatitudeTM by Genesys software. But, increasingly, our conversations are more about the economy and politics — and what stakes those have for the ARM industry. We’re using these conversations to make the best decisions we can about what lies ahead.

Our most recent session a few weeks ago basically came down to two things:

  1. What we know
  2. What we don’t know

And based on those findings, we made our future-proofing conclusions.

What We Know

  • The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to affect many sectors of the economy through 2021 and 2022.
  • The recession continues to hit lower-income Americans harder — those historically more likely to face collections.
  • As of this writing, there’s no current stimulus/relief package that will stave off financial hardship for these consumers

What We Don’t Know

  • The election: It’s on all our minds. Many of us are concerned about not only the political direction of the country, but also the social impact the elections will have — and the potential for unrest around it.
  • With a lack of guaranteed ongoing stimulus, or a quick bounce-back to the economy, there’s increasing concern about collectability rates in 2021.
  • Will the bizarre and backward nature of the economy (booming home sales and improvements, car sales, and banking versus dining/entertainment and travel) continue? And what affect will it have?

Future-Proofing Our ARM Operations

Now equipped with these knowns and unknowns, here are a few ways to future-proof ARM operations.

  • Remote work is here to stay and likely will increase. You might have been able to temporarily move your agents to home in Spring during the initial outbreak, but will your current solution allow you to scale easily for years — or was it just a bandage to stem the bleeding?
  • And if you aren’t locked to hiring agents locally, you can now cherry-pick the best agents from across the country. This also can hurt you; your local agents are now free to work as remote agents for a competitor outside your local market. You need to defend yourself by providing a fully functioning remote-work collection environment.
  • Training newly hired remote agents used to be a challenge. If you have artificial intelligence (AI)-powered agent-assist capabilities, you can ramp up quicker than ever before — even faster than when they were in the office.
  • The use of digital non-voice channels must become a leading part of your strategy. It needs to be integrated into your collections CRM system. If it’s a bolt-on system, you’re already losing to those savvy agencies who are competing with you for the limited dollars of accounts in your portfolio.
  • The weird economy is going to skew your vendor data modeling for at least the next two years. Be smart; develop your own techniques on how best to score until you’re confident in someone else’s scoring.
  • You need to do all of this in a cost-effective way — without sacrificing the features you need to compete.

Buckle Up: Don’t Wait and See

Maybe I’m overly cynical, but I’ve concluded that waiting for normalcy to arrive is a fool’s game. I’ve resolved to “embrace the weird” when it comes to the next 24 months. Some say to me, “Cris, that’s just another way of saying you’re ready to pivot.”  I say, “No, a pivot is a turn in another direction — left or right. I’m talking 360 degrees, upside-down, flip-around, 4th dimension-style pivoting!”

I know Genesys can solve most of the points listed above. You might already know about Latitude by Genesys, but you might not know of the Genesys CloudTM platform, our all-in-one contact center solution.

With Genesys Cloud, you can spin up a fully functioning contact center from soup to nuts — telephony to technology — in just a few days. The modern architecture allows Genesys to constantly update capabilities, assuring you get the latest features the moment they’re released. Digital channels, inbound, outbound (TCPA-indemnified), collaboration capabilities, workforce management — everything you need is in there, at a price that’s likely less than what you’re paying now. Best of all, it’s fully integrated to Latitude by Genesys, giving you a “collection agency in a box.” Just add agents.

Our upcoming webinar about future-proofing your collections center in a pandemic era will give you an in-depth look at the Genesys Cloud platform and integrations, plus a few other surprises and offers.