It’s how you collect that counts
In debt collection, it is not just how much you collect on debt that counts – but how you collect it. This is where Intrum has been innovative, ethical, and customer-focused.
The standard of success for debt collection agencies should not be just how good they are at helping clients collect money. It is just as important to work from an ethical basis of honestly helping customers become debt free. This attitude has been core to Intrum’s growth over a century.
Intrum’s Front Office Director Pia Bach Jensen has for a long time worked with how Intrum communicates with its customers. Initiatives during her time have involved everything from simpler and more personal language in letters to training on how to communicate on the phone and finding the right mix of digitalisation and personal support.
Improving customer communication
Looking back at her tenure at Lindorff first and then Intrum, three initiatives stand out for Pia.
The first one involved improving how Intrum worded its letters. It was a joint initiative in 2014 between Intrum and the Danish Postal Service.
Looking back at her tenure at Lindorff first and then Intrum, three initiatives stand out for Pia. The first one involved improving how Intrum worded its letters. It was a joint initiative in 2014 between Intrum and the Danish Postal Service.
“The letters we sent out to customers were a bit old-fashioned, addressed with a big case ID and written in very formal language. We asked good communicators, who were neither debt collectors nor lawyers, to review our letters and make suggestions. The results were simpler language and greater personalization, addressing the customer by their name, as a human and not as a case ID number. The project produced valuable learnings that we have applied to other markets throughout the Group and continue to build on today, not only in letters but also in how we speak to customers on the phone.”
A second initiative, involving customer satisfaction surveys, started small but is now deployed in almost all of Intrum’s markets.
“By industry standards, we have a very high response rate for our customers [...] 10%, based on about 100,000 surveys per month within the Group. We use the results for our daily development talks with all employees working in front offices. This plays a vital role in our quality assurance and training efforts. It helps us say the right things in calls and have the right skills to handle calls appropriately. We also use the learnings for improving follow ups with customers. The right follow ups are a real difference maker.”
Thirdly, Pia highlights a project on digitalisation of certain collection operations, a project that has been ongoing since 2021.
We’re all becoming more digital, including some clients and customers who prefer to interact with us in digital channels. With digital self-service tools, customers can now manage their situation 24/7.Pia Bach Jensen, Front Office Director
“We’re all becoming more digital, including some clients and customers who prefer to interact with us in digital channels. With digital self-service tools, customers can now manage their situation 24/7. We have a long-term project to digitalise more parts of our operations, freeing up time for employees to give personal attention to those cases where human interaction is a must. Two years ago, the split was still 90 per cent personal and 10 percent digital. In the end, I believe that a 50–50 split will be the right mix of digital and personal support. Some customers will want to just log in and pay off their debt on their own. Others will want human interaction. We should be able to meet them how they want to be met.”
It’s about the people
To make all these operational initiatives successful, Pia believes Intrum has identified what is key.
”We put people in focus. This is why I have stayed with Intrum for 15 years. And by people, we mean everyone. The people in debt. The people who work at our clients. The people who are our employees and my colleagues. We are not just about numbers and money. How we work and who we work with is key. We have grown together, across borders, across offices, and across time. I’m confident we will continue to grow together in the future,” says Pia.