New technologies are the future. Investments in intelligent solutions have great impact on the development of the company. They allow to build its competitive advantage and also affect the revenue, as well as the image of the company. According to a new report on the state of the digital market "Digital in 2018", over 4 billion people around the world use the internet! This means that almost half of the population is online using mobile applications on average 2 hours a day. Such changes, market trends and the needs of our clients inspired us to create an application for mobile employees which has been implemented in several debt collection companies in Poland and abroad.
We decided to have a closer look at how this box solution works at APS which has been handling claims for over 15 years. Hubert Duda - Head of Sales and the Member of the Management Board at APS Poland, part of the APS Group tells about how debt collection activities are conducted in Poland and abroad and explains the reason for APS to invest in the VSoft application for field debt collectors.
VSoft: Today you are present in 14 countries. Can you tell us how claims are handled in an international holding company?
HD: The question goes well with the round anniversary of our activity focused on Central and South East Europe. Such jubilees are a great opportunity to summarize and I can surely admit that handling claims in an international company is a constant theme and subject discussed during the meetings of the APS Group management staff.
Despite common experience and the European legal base (especially in the area of applying the so called continental law), there are significant differences among debt collection activities taken on particular markets. Having that in mind, we do not copy the model of operation from one country to use it directly in another one. We always use the know-how of the countries where we are already present, some best practices, models and examples of effective implementations. We take into account the very specific needs of the markets, customers and our investment partners. We follow it when we look for a competitive advantage, thanks to the knowledge of the unique specifics of the region and even the opportunities that appear on it at a given moment.
VSoft: What does customer service in individual countries look like?
HD: When you have to adapt debt collection skills to another market, it is necessary to understand what differences there are in the approach of the creditor to the customer. Of course, I’m closest to the Polish market - in Poland, debt collection activities are carried out at the early stage of overdue payments. In fact, sometimes (which is what we promote at APS Poland) they are, or should be, an element of the customer care relations management policy. It takes place on a regular basis, even before the maturity date, to resolve the issues that would give the excuse or the risk to delay payments by the customers.
In other markets, the idea of combining the after-sales care or other activities using the "call center engine" is not obvious.
This kind of service is one thing and debt recovery is the other one. In terms of portfolio transactions, Polish creditors are quite conservative, cautious and sometimes even conservative. For example - it is difficult to understand why they are not interested in receiving offers for mortgage-secured debt packages as separate from those unsecured? What's wrong with having more offers and negotiating in a specialized way, having the opportunity to get a higher price for a secured package?
At APS, we pay special attention to it and due to our specialization we are interested only in the receivables secured by a real estate. There are no such problems in other markets. And there is no rigid formalization of the shape and content of offers. Let's be honest – in this case, the price should be a determinant. Formal requirements must definitely be met but at the stage of finalizing the transaction agreement. And why are there only few creditors that prepare documentation in English? Do they forget that with such materials they increase their chances to raise capital from organizations and investors who, acting globally, communicate exclusively using that language? Here again, other markets are more open to such - as it seems – obvious thing.
VSoft: We are witnessing how APS develops. The company's customer portfolio and the number of branches on the map of Europe and the world are growing. Has your development influenced taking the decision to implement solution for handling field teams? What were the other reasons?
HD: Innovation of this solution, good communication with the VSoft team - a producer who made we became interested in their ideas and then ... and then an active implementation in Poland and the possibility of recommending VSoft Mobile Workforce on "the other APS markets". Quick implementation of the GDPA standards to the application and its official confirmation in the consistent communication with the market were also helpful.
VSoft: How being the international company affects the management of field workers?
HD: Here - regardless of the international character – each new thing, also regarding the implementation, results in the "resistance of employees to a change". I think that this may be the main reason for making the implementation of management changes ineffective. We need to look for support and understanding at each level of human resources - starting from the decision-makers, through the middle-level managers, ending with the executive staff "on the so-called first line ".
Because the fear of the "new" turns into an unnecessary discussion related to emotions rather than to real problems. Of course such problems do exist: what is the best way convince people who, due to their age, were not born with a smartphone in their hands to change their habits? The answer would be: work with them, try to convince them to use new technologies and show there are advantages of the new. It is important to build understanding for market requirements and the needs of the customers who want to pay only for efficiency, quality and safety.
For me, it is crucial that the "human factor" should be present in implementations due to its fundamental role in this process (from analyzing needs, preparing decisions and implementing, through using it "after implementation" and ending with the evaluation). I would add that in all markets, increasing the recovery parameters and the effectiveness of debt collection together with making sure the compliance policy is applied are easier thanks to IT implementations and solutions. This is particularly important in the changing legal environment and to meet the expectations of the regulator.
It should also be mentioned that technology should give a competitive advantage but it should always be evaluated taking into account the scale of the business in which it was introduced. Technology is becoming the "expected standard" without which competition can’t be established at all – in other words: you fall out of the market.
VSoft: Thank you for our meeting, we wish you further successes!
For more information on VSoft Mobile Workforce visit www.vsoft.pl/vsoft-mobile-workforce.
(source https://wearesocial.com/uk/blog /2018/01/global-digital-report-2018)