StayAhead Editorial Team
Preparing Collection Agencies for the TikTok Generation
The generation gap has always existed. In the past few decades, we have had Baby Boomers (1946-64), Gen X (1965-80), Gen Y (1981-96), Gen Z (1997-2012) and now Gen Alpha (2012-27). The gap seems to be only widening with the rise of new technological developments through internet, the introduction of smart phones, and innovations like cloud computing, mobile apps, etc. With the fast-paced growth of social media technology specifically among Gen Z and Gen Alpha, it is abundantly clear that their values, attitudes, approaches to various aspects of life, and the way they perceive things is significantly different than the previous generations. Though this generation gap is natural and expected, business organizations are trying to close this gap with the help of technology. As a collection agency or a revenue cycle operation, one needs to serve consumers and/or patients belonging to four different generation simultaneously. Interestingly the percentage of Gen Z’s are growing to the extent that they constitute close to 60% of the mix.
Keeping up with the Millennials
Are you prepared to serve the techno-savvy population? Do you have the right tools? Can you meet and exceed their expectations?
Along with the standard ACH and card payments, consumers are expecting agencies to accept their payments through digital payment systems, such as Google Pay, Venmo, ApplePay, etc. There is an increasing demand for the mobile point of sale (mPOS) and with the annual growth rate of 19%, the size of the digital payment market is now valued at $58.3 billion compared to $10.9 billion in 2016. What does this mean for the ARM and RCM players? These consumers will be expecting agencies to have the necessary channels and mPOS to process their payments. It’s a shift from “cards to codes.” Payment processing vendors need to quickly adapt their platforms to accept digital payments without compromising security and compliance.
Innovation as the Centerpiece
As business unit leaders, it is necessary to re-imagine every process they are managing and determine ways to adapt and incorporate these new trends.
Communication preferences are changing and we are seeing a shift in the channels consumers choose as well. With a growing percentage of omnichannel shoppers, consumers now expect to have multiple channels available for them to engage. Whether it is related to banking, healthcare, or a mortgage, a consumer who has an account will be expecting the collection agency to have all the necessary tools to have a similar experience and engagement. One could potentially start a conversation through the chat and switch to an email or a call. In this case, they expect all three channels to be available for them to interact. Every step of the consumer journey with the collection staff impacts the potential of their relationship with the service provider (client). Do agencies need to employ staff to handle all three communication channels separately or expect their staff to do multitasking? Not necessarily. Through task automation, one can handle a consumer in one channel and easily transfer them to another allowing automation tools to kick in and provide them with the required details that they might be looking for. Importantly, training and re-skilling agents to manage the automation bots is important so they can control the process and in so doing, delivery a seamless customer experience.
As we all know, Gen Z’s live in a well-connected world through social media and like to stay updated and informed. Skip tracing might not be a problem for collectors, provided they are trained to use the tools to do more digital investigations rather than calling to locate the debtors. This is a potential candidate for automation and the bots (digital workers) can be deployed to do the first level search and gather the needed information from multiple sources in aiding the collectors to successfully recover those dollars.
If you can successfully connect with the consumers and if many of them are switching to the alternative digital channels like text and email to avoid the traditional modes, agencies might need to train their staff to handle more emails and be able to successfully negotiate the payments with the consumers while increasing their recovery rates – all without picking up the phone.
Regarding the initial validation notices, you will need to consider if they should be continued in print mail or if they can be digitally sent. How about the compliance if switching to alternate channels like email for the validation notice? More such questions continue to pop up as we are getting ready to serve this new generation of consumers and hopefully, we can find answers through technology to even further shorten the gap.