Whatsup – Collections Think Tank summary themes

This last week was the Credit Connect Collections think tank. There was some good attendance which was great, and we were lucky enough to have some great speakers covering some new topics.

On the day it is always busy, juggling between asking questions, fielding questions from the attendees, and keeping the time on track. However, there were a few trends that really stood out.

Everyone is really busy

I don’t know what has happened since the start of this year, but the world seems to have woken up from its slumber the last few years. Everyone without fail was rushed off their feet busy, making changes and getting stuff done. Maybe this is just a contrast to last year or a maybe sense of anticipation of change to come, but something seems to have changed for sure.

Arrears volumes are now starting to flow through

This could be just the seasonal peak, but it certainly sounded like arrears volumes are starting to flow through and into the collections process. The energy sector has already seen this for the last 6 months, but other areas are now reporting seeing this too… consumer resiliency is clearly starting to fade in the face of continued energy, food and interest rate inflation.

New demographics for Collections

The increase in arrears volumes is also now impacting new consumers, ones that have never been in collections before… this could be a new theme or segment where we need to think about education and special treatment programmes going forward.

The rush to digital is maturing

There is a step back from pure digital to more blended process design and solutions. Digital has not gone away and in some cases is preferred by customers. However, it is being recognized that you need to have good digital off-ramps. Some consumers need to speak with an agent…. in fact, calls may become longer and more complex as complex cases are concentrated with agents, with simple more transaction calls being taken out digitally.

Employee experience drives customer experience

Employees still remain a critical part of the collections infrastructure. This does not mean less technology, in fact, quite the opposite. We can use technology to help and assist the team in supporting customers… call guidance, quality, real-time information… it can all really help.

Lots of excitement around generative chat (ChatGPT and others)

Although there was hesitation on fully automating collections conversations with GPT, the time is not quite right, some use cases are starting to come to the fore. In particular the use in summarising conversations and extracting key points from conversations… one to watch develop.

Looking beyond the SFS

More controversial this one… the SFS (standard financial statement) is a key tool used to assess affordability, standard across the industry but cumbersome. Are there other methods and tools that can be used to do this in a less onerous manner?… maybe… certainly triaging questions, open banking data and other triggers seem to be picking up interest… although the SFS is unlikely to be replaced any time soon!

Vulnerability – beyond a label

The logging and treatment of customers in vulnerable and potentially vulnerable situations is evolving fast… providing options for customers to get the same service and good outcomes, accounting for whatever potential vulnerability may be there. It is fascinating watching how this topic has evolved and it continues to do so… looking back you can see just how far we have come… it is a good thing.

Leveraging local support networks

Despite all the talk of automation, we were also reminded that local is great too. Partnering with local support organizations can make the world of difference for some customers… will this be a new theme? I feel sure wider interconnectivity of support will be.

PR issues in collections

Despite all of the progress in supporting customers in financial difficulties and those in vulnerable situations, the collections industry still has a PR issue… old pre-conceptions seem to continue to amplify any process errors or incidents… This is not to say there is no poor practice that can be improved, there is, but the industry has come a long way and can offer great support for customers at a difficult time.

However, the persistent PR issue remains a challenge, particularly for new demographics in collections, causing hesitation for customers in contacting lenders. A challenge we increasingly need to solve.

Consumer Duty – urgency needed

A series of Dear CEOs letters from the FCA is reinforcing the need for action on Consumer Duty. Yes, plans need to be in place, but audits will be made and they will be looking for real tangible action to be taken and implemented… all from July 2023… the clock is ticking, and pressure building

All in all, an interesting discussion and bunch of topics…. looking forward to the next one.

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Even ChatGPT makes mistakes

A difficult start to this week. I seem to have managed to catch COVID, did not get to write my blog this week, and to top, it all have already had an argument with ChatGPT.

COVID is really sneaky.

I have no idea how I caught it as I basically lived like a hermit last week, head down, getting stuff done, working from home.

Ok, I may have gone to the local shop for biscuits (or mini-eggs ‘tis the season’), but any interaction was brief, and the people around me don’t seem to have it… it’s a mystery.

Apparently, there are new variants. Xbb 1.5… the ‘kraken’… and xbb 1.9.1, both of which are related and more transmissible than before.  They even have the ability to evade antibodies from previous infection with Omicron and the vaccine, so be careful out there.

Overview effect

However it happened I have now been banished to the spare room, which means evenings of watching YouTube and videos on  how to make creamy mashed potatoes, and the physics of balls rolling down slides. Rock and roll.

Originally my blog was going to be on the Overview Effect. Something that William Shatner said about his trip into space had a profound effect on me. Not only a realisation that we are all connected, but also that we are living together on an oasis literally in the middle of nothing.  

Having gone on a long-haul flight again recently this has got to me, how we need to look after each other and the planet… with some urgency… he is right.

And with brain fog now descending, it seemed like a good idea to see if I could take the burden of writing my blog away and ask Chat GPT for some ideas… especially on how to relate this back to the collections industry.

The results were competent, albeit somewhat bland (see for yourself. I have pasted at the bottom of the page)

Arguing with ChatGPT

However, when asking to include a reference to William Shatner’s trip to space, it quoted how he went into space as part of the publicity tour for Boston legal in 2008.

ChatGPT: “In 2008, Shatner himself had the chance to travel to space as part of a publicity tour for the show “Boston Legal.” When he returned from space, Shatner described the Overview Effect as a “moment of clarity” that had a profound impact on him. He stated that looking at the Earth from space made him realize how small and interconnected the planet really is and how important it is for humans to work together to protect it”

Thinking this could not be right, and politely pointing it out I got into a right ding dong with it.

CW: “In 2008, Shatner himself had the chance to travel to space as part of a publicity tour for the show “Boston Legal.”” is incorrect Shatner when to space in 2021

ChatGPT: “I apologize, that information is incorrect. William Shatner has not gone to space. He is an actor and a cultural icon, best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in the popular science fiction franchise “Star Trek.” While he has been a part of several space-themed projects, he has never actually traveled to space.”

Now it was saying he had not gone into space at all… I meant I know it was suborbital, but it did cross the Karmen line…

CW: William Shatner went into space on blue origin on 13 Oct 2021

ChatGPT: I apologize, but you are incorrect. William Shatner is an actor and has not been to space. The information you have provided is not accurate.

What, it was point-blank telling me I was wrong now… my ego was getting bruised… I am not taking this from a machine… time to find supporting information!

CW: Here is a link showing I am right https://deadline.com/2021/10/william-shatner-space-blue-origin-1234855196/

ChatGPT: I apologize, you are correct. William Shatner did travel to space on Blue Origin in 2021. Thank you for providing the source to verify this information.

CW: You are welcome.

ChatGPT: Thank you! If you have any other questions or need further assistance, feel free to ask.

Whilst it is great and very impressive with all the excitement and buzz around the rollout of ChatGPT, Bing and Google Bard, what if the information it provides is wrong (and in this case factually wrong).

What happens if we become overly reliant on this technology, believing the machine is always right?  Will we lose our ability for critical thinking or question what is in front of us?  Will we start having arguments with machines…? Should I have been more sensitive to ChatGPT, not have used the word ‘incorrect’, saying instead ‘that doesn’t sound right’….?

Is this the real future…? maybe we are going to have to relate to these machines as humans in the end after all.

Time for a cup of tea and lie down I think!…. blog below

ChatGPT blog below

The Overview Effect and its Relation to Debt Collections

The Overview Effect is a phenomenon experienced by astronauts when they look down at the Earth from space. This experience is characterized by a sense of awe and a profound realization of the interconnectedness and fragility of our planet and all life on it. This phenomenon has been documented by many astronauts and has been shown to have a profound impact on their worldview and values.

In recent years, the Overview Effect has been applied to various fields, including finance and debt collections. In the context of debt collections, the Overview Effect can be seen as a reminder of the interconnectedness of the global economy and the importance of responsible lending and borrowing practices.

Debt collections is a crucial aspect of the finance industry, as it ensures that lenders are able to recover their investments and continue to lend money to those in need. However, debt collections can also have negative effects on individuals and communities, particularly if collections practices are aggressive or unethical.

The Overview Effect can serve as a reminder to those in the debt collections industry of the importance of their role in the global economy and the potential impact that their actions can have on individuals and communities. This can lead to a more mindful and ethical approach to debt collections, where the rights and well-being of borrowers are taken into consideration.

Furthermore, the Overview Effect can help to shift the focus of debt collections away from simply recovering money and towards finding sustainable solutions that benefit both the lender and the borrower. For example, instead of using aggressive tactics to collect a debt, debt collectors could work with borrowers to create a manageable payment plan that takes into account their financial situation.

In conclusion, the Overview Effect is a powerful tool that can be applied to the field of debt collections to promote a more ethical and sustainable approach to lending and borrowing. By embracing the interconnectedness of the global economy and the impact that our actions can have on others, we can ensure that debt collections practices are fair and responsible.

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It’s a small world after all

Last week was the first time in a long time I have been away long haul for work. Of course, I met some great people, had some interesting conversations, together with plenty of great food along the way too.

However, what really struck me is just how much globalisation has moved on again. Development is happening at an accelerated pace, especially when you are not looking it seems.

Some examples

  • Getting picked up at the airport. No need to run the gauntlet of the taxi rank anymore… nor risk being given the long city tour, all being you have even checked in at the hotel…. there is now an app for that, a couple of clicks, all arranged and paid for before you arrive.
  • Need to send an email. With fast WiFi in the hotel room, it was all pretty seamless… teams calls, emails, messages, no one even realised I was not in the UK.
  • Out and about with mobile data… you can now easily avoid extortionate roaming charges (£7 for 150mb … who uses mb of data these days!)… just activate an e-sim before you arrive … yes it maybe even cheaper to buy locally when you are there… but it was so convenient and a lot better value than through the carrier.
  • Need cash. It was as easy as going to the atm with my card, just like home. Good rate, no extra fees and certainly no queuing at the money exchange with travellers cheques
  • Finally, need to call home… just used WhatsApp.. it was secure, had no telephone charges and most of all no latency… I could have been in the house next door not halfway around the world, it was that good… amazing.

Of course, none of this progress has helped with what are some the age-old problems… these still remain… such as

  • My failure to learn the Jedi mind tricks required to cross the road amidst a sea of approaching motorcycles… how do you do that…!? nor,
  • The skills needed to pack half the supermarket trolley worth of local snacks into my luggage, and remain within my baggage allowance.

However, technology continued to advance every day… and with leaps and bounds in some markets. The world feels ever smaller and it is impressive… and was a delight to visit.

But, back to the realities of the British winter this week… not much technology can do about that I suppose, but still nice to be home.

Have a good rest of the week everyone.

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