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CaSCADE the New Cutting Edge from Apex Credit Management

Harnessing emerging technologies and treating customer fairly and ethically is the heartbeat of Apex Credit Management, it is an approach that is winning the business a growing portfolio of clients as they increase their effectiveness in customer debt rehabilitation and debt collection in both the financial services and public service sectors.

“Through all of our services - debt purchase, contingency debt management, outsourced debt support and tracing we recognised that opportunities existed for gains in productivity and accountability.  There is no single solution to this but combining best in class technology, training, analytical management and team development, wrapped in an energetic and ethical values driven culture has created a staggering gain of up to 30% in collection rates” notes COO Steve Mound.

“Our new CaSCADE approach combines the very best in hard cutting edge technology and soft people skills and is a real differentiator creating better collection levels, protecting reputational risk and helping those who want to clear past debts to achieve this goal.

“Technology is important to us and as a business we are investing significantly in leading edge technologies that available today and are actively involved in ‘imagination’ projects exploring the technology that we will need for tomorrow”

Today

  • Data warehousing
  • Data analytics
  • Speech analytics
  • Power dialler technologies
  • Self serve web & telephony solutions
  • SMS and Email contact

Ideas for Tomorrow

  • Smart Phone App development
  • New iterative work platform

Effective Targeting

The key first step in the CaSCADE process is understanding and segmenting data.  As with many DCA organisations Apex manages large volumes of debt at different points in the collections and recoveries cycle.  Ensuring that customers in debt are contacted in an appropriate and timely fashion is vital to maximise the results for all parties.

To achieve this Apex has built a platform which relies on an extensive data warehouse which is integrated within core systems and overlaid with SAS analysis tools.  Establishing a customer’s propensity to repay by combining and modelling past behaviour with current available data then drives an appropriate contact strategy.  This maximises contact and thereby efficiency which is the key to profitability in the sector.

Speech Analytics

Debt collectors face a perennial challenge: balancing the need to maximise debt recovery with the need to maintain compliance.  At Apex the organisation’s strong focus on ethical debt collection makes this an even greater priority.  Failure to comply with regulation is a risk for both Apex and its customers; this risk is something Apex is simply not prepared to take.  Speech analytics is proving itself to be the solution providing compliance peace of mind with enhanced productivity; it is a win win situation that the business sees as a sound investment.

Apex has invested in the Nexidia speech analytics tool in conjunction with a Noble predictive dialler to put real science into call activity and measurement. The system downloads all call recordings over night and creates an indexed library which allows phonetic search to retrieve any individual call that falls into pre-determined patterns. The tool features an intelligent reporting suite through which the business can:-

  • Track agent adherence to call structure;
  • Correlate payments received with specific call drivers in order to maximise call effectiveness;
  • Measure talk time analysis and silent time.

Speech analytics gives Apex the ability to automatically interrogate thousands of interactions and extract business intelligence on what were hitherto inefficient call processes.  Armed with this kind of intelligence, the Call Centre team can quickly re-engineer call processes and increase the results, with more focus on helping customers to resolve past debt issues.

Effectiveness is enhanced through the capacity to help every collections agent to improve their own performance.  The old adage “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” is always worth remembering. Yet it’s surprising that many debt collectors fail to ask for payment – as recordings of call centre conversations show.

Speech analytics quickly identifies which operators are in need of training.  Once this is done, the improvement in performance can be significant. Promise to pay ratios, process adherence and the ability to spot and develop high-flyers are all being enhanced. 

The Noble dialler is valuable for more than just making calls – the dialler operates as a multi-channel contact system and along with its dialling capability it allows SMS broadcasting, interactive voice management (IVM) and e-mail. 

  • SMS - The SMS module enables text messaging to be undertaken, built around profiled customer listings so that targeted highly appropriate messages can be sent. The results have been impressive and quickly demonstrates to new debtors that Apex is here to help.
  • IVM - The IVM allows agentless outbound campaigns to be undertaken sorting the Right Party Contact’s from the Wrong Party Contact’s and passing these back into the call centre for a live agent to handle.
  • E-mail - The outbound e-mail module has introduced a cost effective alternative to letters & the multi-channel contact system provides Apex with a competitive advantage allowing costs to be reduced.

Blended and predictive dialling allows the business to maximise the productivity of the Apex team delivering 100% call recording.  Outbound dialling is fully compliant with all OFCOM guidelines and configurable recycle rules allow the business to ensure compliance with OFT & TCF guidelines as well.

As well as outbound technology, the inbound Interactive Voice Response helps to route inbound traffic to the relevant area as well as offering a fully automated 24/7 card payment facility allowing callers to ‘self-serve’ their account – the results of which have been quite staggering!

Technology as a Debtor Facilitator

Outbound calls and direct mail may be the backbone of debtor contact, but today the communication options have increased to allow two way communications.  Increasingly those in debt are looking to self serve their past debt issues.

Developed specifically for Apex Credit Management the MyApex (https://myapex.apexcm.co.uk/) is an on-line debtor portal that gives debtors the opportunity to manage their account 24/7.  The portal is designed to be bright, welcoming and engaging - providing customers with the opportunity to make a card payment; make an offer of payment; set up a direct debit; manage their finances with the budget calculator; whilst also offering links to many approved money advice centres.

For some people the impersonal nature of technology suits their desire for privacy.  Our existing web based portal and SMS text options have proved very successfully and we are investigating the use of an App to accommodate the rapid growth in smart phones, which we expect to see as the main way people read email in the future.  It is all about making it as easy as possible for people to clear their debt in a way that they are comfortable with”. Notes Mound

Looking Forward 

Mound concludes;  “Technology will be vital as we move forward.  Compliance, productivity and customer choice in a digital world all point to this reality.  Today we work in an increasingly multi-channel world, the telephone and mail may have dominated in the past, but in the same way that petrol stations today are virtually all self-service we can anticipate a growing number of debtors working to self-serve their way clear of past debt issues. 

“At the same time there is a clear place for people skills.  Coping with debt can be a stressful experience that most people have arrived at through a sudden unexpected event in their lives.  We are proud of our commitment to have well trained people on hand to help those who want to be helped.  As yet we don’t see technology providing this level of very personal care, but we can use it to make us more accessible”.

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