Wednesday, 13 March 2013


It is a strange feeling writing a note for an unspecified audience to be read at their leisure with no guarantee of a response or feedback, but let’s assume for a moment that you’ve found your way here because you are interested in and informed about the debt industry. Of course, you’ve already proven that you are one of the more discerning readers by making it here at all!

But, allow me to pose a question. How debtor-centric are you?

Now, you’re probably wondering what that might mean, so here are few other questions I might ask to help:
  • Are you able to maintain full visibility of activity and performance for each customer, even when they are placed with third parties or when the debt is sold?
  • Do your strategies take into account everything you know about your customers and your interactions with them?
  • Do you have a broader understanding of each customer and their situation and can you use it to tailor your contact strategies with them?
Don’t worry if you’ve said no to some of these, you’re in good company.

I’m currently spending a lot of my time thinking about how we can help the industry to become more debtor-centric. We enjoy a unique position in the middle of the industry so we get to see what is going on with a 360 degree viewpoint. From this viewpoint, we think there is a lot to be gained from a more debtor-centric approach which, as you may have seen in our trade press, is the theme of our latest advertising campaign.

From my perspective, a debtor-centric approach means that you use all the available data to come up with a solution that is designed to address the debtor’s specific situation and circumstances. It means that you remember every interaction with every customer and use it to inform the next one. It means you manage the individual as an individual rather than a debt.

The outcome from being more debtor-centric should be better compliance, better customer experience and in the long run, better financial performance. After all, there is no debtor out there who wants to pay their debts who enjoys being contacted repeatedly by phone or letter!

So back to my questions – in my most recent conversations with creditors, they have all highlighted some consistent challenges. Universally they talked about how the regulatory agenda required them to capture more information and manage third parties in a more integrated way. Universally they talked about how they would like to use more data in their models to better understand their customers. Universally they felt their current systems were a constraint, not an enabler and that they didn’t always have the information about historical contacts or questions raised by their customers when contacted.

These creditors were not in the UK, they were in the US – so this challenge is also being faced in the most sophisticated market in the world. 

Although it is comforting that the US has not yet figured out the answer, it means we need to continue to work hard to find the solution. As we work with our clients and the industry, we will continue to work to solve the challenges of joining things up for debtors across their entire debt position in a way that allows a more debtor-centric approach whilst satisfying creditors and regulators. We believe it is the right thing to do and we believe that if we get it right then everyone can win.

By Mark Sanders, CEO, TDX Group

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