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Don’t get left behind – the digital evolution in retail banking collections 14 DECEMBER 2020

Don’t get left behind – the digital evolution in retail banking collections
5 minute read

According to the Office for National Statistics, in the past few years, retail employment has declined across the majority of regions in the UK, with only 14% of all employment coming from business on UK high streets.

More and more offices are popping up on our high streets and I have noticed my local town is becoming less of what I remember as the "I'll just pop to town" kind of environment, and is slowly moving to more of an upmarket location with a saturation of coffee shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants scattered amongst increasing numbers of empty premises.

A troubling time for organisations built on a legacy static footprint

Since the 2008 recession, we have seen a huge change in the way we do business with the rapid emergence of technology supporting everyday life.

Taking a look back, there are key characteristics which have indicated the changes in the market across different industries and clearly show where early adoption and investment is imperative for organisations to survive looking forward into the next ten years and beyond.

Over the past 15 years, we have seen the demise of catalogue-based retailers, audio and video stores, electrical outlets, video rentals, and the ever-growing struggle of fashion retailers. Naturally everyone is wondering, what's next? Or more importantly, what's left that could disappear from life as we once knew it?

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed the struggle for the fashion retail industry grow even further, with a number of groups with a large high street footprint forced to go into administration: Arcadia Group, Debenhams, and Edinburgh Woollen Mill to name a few. There is a high likelihood that some of the brands won't disappear forever but will be absorbed into groups that have managed to set themselves up for success in the way the industry has evolved today, such as Boohoo or Frasers Group.

What does this mean for banks?

With further consolidation on the high street looming, the only thing this really leaves are the banks. Banks are renowned for their large, high profile buildings in the high street, but with the digital age booming, is this really necessary?

With early adopters like HSBC allowing cheques to be cashed via their app, along with other banks with automated cheque cashing through machines, what do people go into their local branch for these days?

As we continue to live our lives more digitally, there is a diminishing need for static locations to carry out certain activities that can now be fulfilled anywhere at any time.

We are in a massive evolutionary cycle where advancements in one area is creating a deterioration in another. The signs are there, and the historic pattern of technology advancements pushing out the previous everyday traditional services can be analysed to forecast what is next and how best to get ahead of the game and plan for the future.

The current pandemic will be a huge test for the banks from a consumer perspective on how well they manage digital journeys to service their customer needs, with self-serve at the height of everyone's expectations.

What can collections teams do to stay ahead of the curve?

Call centre volumes have risen dramatically throughout 2020 due to COVID-19. This is predominantly due to sub-standard self-serve capabilities available to fulfil customer needs through this difficult time.

At Arum, we have worked with a number of organisations to combat this resource-heavy issue by deploying smarter, more innovative tools that can not only help the customer, but also your advisors to be more effective when dealing with customers in arrears. Some of the most effective elements we have worked with have been:

  • Include collections and recoveries into your overall digital strategy - more often than not, collections is left to fend for itself, but by offering a holistic journey to customers allows greater self-management reducing call centre demand.
  • Introduce innovative agent tools – taking advantage of easier to use and integrated agent tools (such as Income & Expenditure linked to Open Banking) allows a more structured and quicker conversation to be had with customers in financial difficulty.
  • Use Robots and Repeat Process Automation - removing rule-based, repetitive tasks from manual agent activity and deploying technology to handle this for you allows resource to be redeployed in a more effective manner.
  • Increase data usage to drive strategy - taking the increase of bankruptcy and insolvency as solutions to many customers in financial difficulty as an example, ingesting, segmenting and automatically driving appropriate customer journeys has never been more important.

If you would like to discuss how we can help your industry as we move into a fully digital self-serve state, contact us today.

Owen Atkinson
Lead Consultant

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