Human communication can sometimes be a strange and subtle thing. I was reminded of this, this week, in an online exchange where there was a misunderstanding, and things should I say, got a little testy.
We were discussing global collections trends on a call this week with a panel of people from around the world. Digital, digital journeys seem to be a common theme everywhere, as was a focus on customer-centric treatment. It is fascinating how similar the conversation was and you can really see how ideas ebb and flow around the world.
However a great, albeit awkward, question got me thinking. How much of this discussion reflects fundamental changes, responding to a need in the market, vs just being the fashion of the day.
It also comes down to a more fundamental set of questions. Is there value comparing processes with others, where does that value sit, to what level of granularity is needed, and where are we limited to having to talk in broad generalities before getting into specific details? All of this I was mulling on for the rest of the week.
People are people
Some broad themes are undoubtedly similar. As much as we can celebrate our differences, in many ways we are the same. People are people, with similar drives, needs and with customers, being a subset, are of course people too!
As such much of the motivation, likes and needs of customers at a fundamental level are very much the same, wherever we are in the world and largely drives basic strategy, together with technology to support it.
This being said, beyond the broadest level, businesses and markets do have nuances that also need to be considered. Some examples include
- Business strategy differences – eg prime or sub prime portfolios needing different treatment strategies
- Country legal and regulatory differences – eg predictive dialler usage influencing strategy
- Geographic differences – remote locations vs city-based customer base requiring different collections approach and infrastructure
- Demographic differences – High expat and population age differences needing nuanced approaches or business strategies to mitigate risks
- Cultural differences – General approach to borrowing, debt, collections and the work environment
All of this can result in making exact comparisons beyond generalities tricky. The design of optimal strategies can need to be specific to a particular business environment. This is especially true at a detailed KPI/metric level, not impossible but caution is needed.
How contact is made, when it is made, the mix of channels and support options for customers can all be improved by reflecting local nuance, market and portfolio conditions. It is these exact details where the competitive advantage sometimes resides. This can be especially true against peers in a market, a tailored design helps.
Just as in other fields, global mass communication is increasingly allowing easy process and product comparison. It has already created economies of scale and similarities for many products, everything from cars to computers and even in the grocery aisle.
Collections, is likely no different… learning from other markets will become ever quicker and easier, notably helped by the pandemic to speed things along recently.
Picking up new ideas can undoubtedly make a difference, but it is still not one size fits all. Local and business customization will remain important to be relevant and competitive… something we need to keep top of mind as we start to return and revamp our strategies and processes…
Be the strategy guru not the victim just following the fashion… have a good weekend everyone
Other stories of interest this week.
- Lloyds to close 44 more branches
- UK online shopping boom fuels cardboard shortage as households hoard boxes
- Making ends meet: how the ONS is producing more detailed income estimates
- Online shopping boom drives rush for warehouse space
- Government borrowing eases in May
- Comment on the EU granting the UK data adequacy
- The problem isn’t remote working – it’s clinging to office-based practices