Since technology’s arrival on the collections scene, companies were faced with a Darwinian decision: adapt or die. Those too slow to implement digital capabilities find themselves nearing extinction. On the other hand, more and more businesses have cropped up announcing a fully digital approach to collections.
But it doesn’t have to be either or. At MRS, we believe it’s possible to get the best of both worlds, pairing tried and true collection techniques with up and coming digital tools.
Customers are diverse and varied individuals, with a myriad of different experiences. We recognize that one size does NOT fit all, which is the first step to finding the perfect fit for each customer.
Acknowledge the Spectrum
Everybody has a different comfort level with technology. Some people prefer to call and speak with a live agent while others want a fully automated experience. At MRS, our unique blend of traditional and digital collections allows us to meet the customer where they want to be met.
Handle Different Scenarios Differently
Not all debts are created equally. Some customers are dealing with a highly emotional situation, and others are simply looking to rectify that one time they fell behind on a payment. A study courtesy of ContactBabel shows the more complex, urgent, and emotional a scenario is, the more a live agent is suited to assist the customer. Technology can be the answer to many questions, but in a crisis, there is no substitute for a real human.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Most companies lean into the either or dichotomy of traditional versus digital. Not us. Doing both and doing both well has propelled MRS to the top as a company with best-in-class results and cutting edge technological innovation. Why choose when you can have it all?
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. One size doesn’t fit all. But if you take the time to learn about your customers’ needs, you can offer the best possible experience.
Have you done any online shopping recently? If the answer is yes (and it definitely is), you’ve probably noticed the increasing number of retailers offering installation plans, so you can buy now, pay later. Examples of these BNPL apps are Klarna, Afterpay, Affirm, and PayPal.
This virtual layaway plan is incredibly appealing to retailers and consumers alike. For retailers, sales go up when the ability to pay over a period of time is introduced. Boosting revenue is a no brainer to these companies, and partnering with BNPL apps augments profits. Consumers are attracted to BNPL solutions because they function as credit cards without charging interest, the caveat is that you must make your scheduled payment. BNPL plans will charge late fees and delinquency on an account can be sent to collections, which leads to credit reporting.
As BNPL plans become more widely utilized, more accounts inevitably end up in the collections cycle. Chief Operating Officer Jim Beck shares his predictions. “I think there will be two of three immediate impacts. First, a customer’s true credit score or situation will be obscured for a while as these BNPL loans are not currently reporting. This may lead to bad lending decisions and incorrect prioritization of accounts in the recovery process. Second, I think that this will be a continued push for the industry to move to digital solutions due to the average balance and the fact that so many of these loans originated online. And lastly, I would expect that we will see an increase in fraud as these loans are different from the traditional lending process. I think that agencies will need to tighten up their self service and traditional fraud and dispute practices to ensure they are handling these accounts appropriately.”
Because BNPL companies are fairly new and offer an alternative line of credit, the CFPB recently opened an inquiry. At the end of 2021, the CFPB ordered the collection of information regarding the risks and benefits of BNPL loans.
Beck says, “These loans will eventually be accounted for in a customer’s credit profile, which ultimately will be better for the industry and the customer. I think that this gives a lot of newer borrowers an opportunity to build good credit and issuers a true insight into the customer to make sound decisions. Due to the accessibility of the product I would expect that the CFPB is going to become highly involved in all aspects of the credit lifecycle for BNPL.”
The BNPL plan is, at its heart, a byproduct of the digital world. BNPL companies are modern, immediate, and inventive. Consequently, they want to partner with technologically innovative collections agencies. Additionally, the customer base of a typical BNPL is 75% Gen Z and Millennial. BNPL companies are made by digital natives for digital natives. EVP of Business Development Misty Carson said, “When it comes to the cutting edge of technology, MRS is a cut above. Our technology has been a proven differentiator when partnering with major BNPL companies. The innovation that guides us and the solutions we implement go hand in hand with BNPLs.”
Not only does MRS match a BNPL company’s technologically driven spirit; we are also committed to offering a myriad of digital solutions so that the consumer may select what platform suits them best. There is no one size fits all. Each consumer has different needs, and our digital tools are tailored to the individual.
Carson said, “MRS’s digital technology is flexible for customers to self-serve on our secure payment web portal or with our virtual agent Adam at any time of the day or night. We provide solutions that are convenient for customers and compliant with Reg F. And for customers who prefer to speak with an agent, we always offer the option to select a live agent. Our goal is to always provide a positive customer experience.”
The digital landscape is swift and ever changing. In order to keep up, it is imperative to understand the new players and their needs. Everyday, MRS continues forging ahead, innovation and customer experience at the core of all our endeavors.
For so long, compliance and cutting edge innovation seemed to be mutually exclusive. However, that’s never been MRS’s approach. Over 31 years in business, MRS has prioritized both compliance and innovation, a hand in hand marriage that enhances company, client, and customer experience.
We’ve curated the following steps to help outline how we’ve embedded this philosophy into everything we do.
1. Establishing balance
First, take the time to emphasize the equal importance between compliance and innovation. The work in tandem and to succeed, one cannot be prioritized over the other. Aligning your team’s goals and establishing open channels of communication is integral, especially when implementing new, complex systems.
2. Staying vigilant
Compliance and innovation both require extreme vigilance. Lawsuits crop up and technology is always in flux. Ensure you’re prepared for whatever new regulation or machinery comes on the scene. An eye peeled and an ear to the ground will keep you primed and ready for whatever the future holds.
3. Keeping the mindset
The finish line is always moving when it comes to staying compliant and innovative. Consequently, it’s important to check in with yourself and your team, let them know when a job is well done, and keep the mindset.
Compliance and innovation have helped MRS become a pioneer of industry with technology like IVR Virtual Agent Adam, as well as emailing and texting solutions. So remember, it doesn’t have to be a tradeoff, you can have it all. For more from MRS, visit our website at https://mrsbpo.com/, find us on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/64481/admin/, or reach out to EVP of Business Development Misty Carson at [email protected].
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” —Benjamin Franklin
You probably sat through classes in high school wondering when you’d ever use this information again. Maybe you were applying formulas to equations or using rote memorization to recite a poem, but you definitely weren’t sitting in a financial literacy class learning how to manage your money.
There is no life skill so underserved as financial literacy. Across the country, only 12% of high school students are required to take courses on personal finance and among adults that are financially literate, 73% say their education was experience. These statistics suggest that many young adults fall delinquent before ever fully grasping basic financial topics. Subsequently consumers struggle to find a way out of debt.
As a debt collection company, we need volume to survive, so it must be counterintuitive to advocate for better financial literacy, right? Wrong. Debt will never disappear completely. But the depths of debt wouldn’t be so foreign with a proper understanding of financial fundamentals. Consumers would be much more equipped to resolve their debt. Education is empowerment.
Co-CEO Jeff Freedman said, “We recognize that at some point in their lives, many customers will hit a financial bump in the road. The more financially literate someone is, the better, because they will understand that part of our efforts are to try and assist them and navigate during the difficult times.”
In collections, we work with a customer, not against them. Those that are less financially literate often believe we are their adversary. When company and customer can come together for the common goal, resolution becomes painless.
The obstacles to financial literacy are not few. Schools do not prioritize personal finance in their curricula, a large population remains either unbanked or underbanked, and many do not recognize the necessity of financial literacy until they are already in debt. However, awareness is an important first step. As of 2021, 4 out of 7 adults are financially literate. Let’s raise that number together.
The importance of representation, promotion, and empowerment
Technology has never been a female dominated field. Although women are pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) at higher rates than ever before, a substantial gender gap persists: women only hold a quarter of all technology based jobs.
In high school, 83% of boys opt for STEM subjects, compared to only 64% of girls. Simply put, girls are less likely to study STEM. Representation is integral, and if girls do not see women in technology, they may discount the possibility of entering the field.
MRS’s EVP of IT Evelina Shalevich has been in the STEM field for years and knows how important representation is. She said, “Any company that is truly committed to diversity and inclusivity needs to lead by example and in a lot of cases it starts from the top. The leadership team needs to set an example and show the rest of the organization that inclusivity applies at all levels.”
The STEM field still has some work to do when it comes to inclusivity and creating a more equal atmosphere. Women face promotion and pay gaps, as well as biased roles that skew towards the non-technical side of STEM. Despite such statistics, the numbers are increasing. Women are entering the field more than in years past. And while women are still a minority group in STEM, the numbers are encouraging.
Bridging gender gaps doesn’t happen overnight; change is incremental. Being part of the change means supporting and representing women in STEM. Day in and day out, MRS promotes equality, inclusivity, and empowerment.
Shalevich said, “At MRS, we take time to acknowledge all the wonderful women that play integral roles throughout the company and highlight their achievements. We do have a very diverse group of individuals that are part of the MRS family and I believe the compassion that we are able to show our customers helps unite the employees.”
Women belong in STEM, at every single level. They are integral to the field and their contributions cannot be taken for granted.
Developing women in STEM will move the field forward. From empowering young girls to championing representation, we can all be advocates for equality.