Debt collection has always been a linear model, starting with face-to-face contact in the early days and eventually transitioning to today’s call center-based industry. This old line of thinking is being rendered obsolete by technology, which is driving a shift to multi-channel communication. Traditional contact strategies are being supplemented by text, email, and chat. Sadly, few in our industry are harnessing technology to reach customers through their preferred platform.
There’s an app for everything and young adults are accustomed to operating through the screen. MRS Executive Vice President of Information Technology Eric Pili says, “From a technology standpoint, collections will become expansively more self-service. Younger generations are tech savvy. Phone calls and business hours are going to be a thing of the past. Communications will shift toward text messages, chats, self-help portals, virtual assistants and web apps.”
The shift towards multi-channel will open up many different pathways for people to communicate with companies and pay their debts. MRS understands the importance of this change in the industry. Chief Customer Officer Chris Repholz says, “We’ve already seen a number of positive changes since we’ve launched our multi-channel strategy. Individuals who have consistently ignored telephone calls and ‘snail mail’ have responded positively to email and texts.”
Legislation remains ambiguous because the verbiage is outdated and fails to account for rapid technological advances. Even with this added challenge, MRS distinguishes itself. Repholz says, “Since we use compliance as a strategy for our phone based work, we decided that the same approach will work well with digital channels and we set out to create a multi-channel solution that is compliant with the FDCPA and the TCPA. The industry cannot continue to be telephone focused and must keep up with customer contact preferences, but do it in a lawful and compliant manner.”
Omni-channel communication is the future. MRS wants to offer customers many choices through which to be contacted. Repholz says, “MRS spends a good deal of time thinking about how innovative strategies and solutions will allow us to deliver better results than our competitors. In fact, this type of thinking led to the creation of a virtual collection agent that uses voice recognition and machine learning software, so if you call us but don’t want to speak with an agent, you can still make a payment in a totally self-serve manner! We also understand that market leading clients who embrace this type of technology and innovation will gravitate toward companies with a pioneering and creative approach to the industry. But most importantly, we believe that using technology to deliver a compliant and more customer-focused experience to consumers is the right thing to do for everyone involved.”
Although obstacles still exist, MRS stays ahead of the technological curve. Repholz says, “There is no question in our minds that a multi-channel approach is the future of the industry.” Accordingly, MRS innovates and refines its approach so that the customer and client are thoroughly satisfied. The debt collection industry stands on the precipice of great change and while business and legislation stand at the edge, MRS takes the technological leap into the future.