Lowell invests in digital service development. One of its most important initiatives is offering simple and fast services directly on cell phones. The company is the first in Sweden to launch mobile debt collection.
“We want to be a leader in the industry and we therefore need to constantly identify new ways of providing our customers with the best solutions,” says Jens Lindeblad, Head of Digital & Innovation at Lowell.
Lowell offers both large and small companies complete solutions for credit management and debt collection. The range of services covers the entire credit cycle, including invoicing, debt collection services and the purchasing of overdue or doubtful receivables, as well as comprehensive analysis services.
A modern economy is based on the ability to grant and utilize credit. This provides flexibility and the opportunity to develop and grow. But when the credit cycle is not working properly, this very same system can create problems for businesses and individuals alike.
“Our focus is always on ensuring our customers receive their payments, while at the same time protecting their customers by finding individual solutions that allow them to pay and in due course come back as paying customers with stronger personal finances,” says Jens Lindeblad.
All written communication that was previously on paper should become digital. And preferably be transmitted via cell phones. All in line with Lowell’s digital strategy.
“We need to be more relevant and are firm believers in personal communication. This means less traditional mass communication and more dialogue with customers,” says Jens Lindeblad.
"We know that companies’ greatest assets are their customers. Our passion is making credit work better for everyone,” says Jens Lindeblad, Head of Digital & Innovation at Lowell.
Lowell has also found that as soon as friction in the customer journey is removed and the digital services are made easier to use, the willingness to pay also improves.
“It is very effective to send debt collection requests directly to cell phones. We reach the customer quickly and securely thanks to the use of BankID,” says Jens Lindeblad, who continues:
“The customer can pay easily and quickly, or be connected to our ‘My Lowell’ customer portal, all via the message sent to the cell phone. In the portal, we can offer the customer an installment plan and convenient contact options, for example via chat.”
One challenge is that many people with financial problems prefer to avoid talking about them. With Lowell’s digital platform, customers can log in at any time of the day and be presented with various options for becoming free from debt. “My Lowell” is a key component that supports the digital customer journey.
“We have put a lot of effort into improving the customer portal. As soon as customers log in, they are automatically presented with various payment by installment options,” says Andrea Burda, advisor at Lowell.
Andrea Burda, advisor at Lowell
“We want to create dialogue and ultimately a path to paying off the debt. By offering an installment plan straight away, we show customers that we are here to help them.”
In the past, it was more complicated to get a payment by installments plan approved. The customer first had to fill in an application, which was then assessed. And if it was rejected, the customer had to call back and ask for a new one.
“We now automatically generate several options with different amounts depending on the repayment period. The customer gets to choose,” says Andrea Burda, who continues:
“In our experience, our digital solutions mean that more people get help managing their debts more quickly and easily. Many people say ‘Wow, it’s such an easy way to get good help’.”
Lowell’s own data shows that the majority of those in debt choose the shortest repayment plan. They want it to be quick and the digital nudge they receive is often enough to get them into the system, where they get help choosing the best path for them.
“It’s also much easier for us to get in touch with and receive payments from people who have simply forgotten to pay that one time and want to clear the debt as quickly as possible.”
“We have built a solution that will change our industry,” says Jens Lindeblad.
He points to the way mailings have worked up until now.
“We previously sent a file to PostNord Strålfors, which then distributed an actual letter to the right person. In the worst case, it could take a whole week before our message reached the customer.”
“With our new omnichannel solution – Mobile Invoice linked to BankID and Swish – the customer receives the message after just a few seconds and we can get paid within a few minutes.”
“And if the customer cannot pay at the moment, payment by installments can be offered directly via ‘My Lowell’.”
Lowell has been following the technological developments in payment and communications solutions over the past few years and Jens Lindeblad has evaluated numerous market participants. Despite this, Lowell has waited until now to replace its written communication solution.
“The reason is simple. We saw a lot of smart market participants with good services, but we didn’t see a holistic solution.”
But when PostNord Strålfors presented its omnichannel vision two years ago, Lowell saw the potential in it.
“We immediately realized that they were looking at communication in a new way, which also supported our digital vision and our ‘Mobile collection only’ initiative,” says Jens Lindeblad.
“So we scrapped our own ideas about building separate solutions for different communication and payment solutions and chose PostNord Strålfors instead.”
“We immediately saw that this was something completely new and channel-independent – and something we could work with long into the future,” says Jens Lindeblad.
Who wants to have debt collection?
Everyone who receives a demand immediately asks how they can resolve it as quickly as possible – and Lowell wants to help its customers when this happens.
“The best initiative I’ve been involved in during my 20 years at the company was when we launched the possibility to pay with Swish during ongoing calls with our customer service,” says Jens Lindeblad.
“The solution meant that, for the first time, we could act immediately, during the call, when the payment arrived. It is a great relief for many people to be told that ‘it’s all fine now’.”
“Many of those people who experience this are both surprised and pleased. Everything happens instantly and we can tell them that we have received the money. The mobile debt collection solution we have now developed is along the same lines,” he says.
With mobile debt collection, the customer receives a text message with a link to a landing page that provides all the information about the debt collection case. Before the customer can access the information, identification using BankID is required to ensure that the right person has received the message.
Lowell has just completed a pilot of the mobile debt collection solution for people who have taken out small consumer loans with various retailers. About 4,000 people received a text message on their cell phones over the course of a month, asking them to log in with BankID to read the message.
The big challenge is to get the customer to tap on the link in the text message that opens BankID. We know that many people, quite understandably, may feel uncertain about tapping on links in text messages so we have therefore provided clarifying information at both Lowell.se and Mitt.Lowell.se.
“We hope to be able to remove that barrier with technology and communication, because nothing happens if we send the message to the wrong person. In such cases, BankID will tell you that the message was not intended for you,” says Jens Lindeblad.
“But we are aware of the issue and don’t know for sure if it will work fully. That’s why we’re testing it. It may be the case that we need to have more market participants working in the same way for it to take full effect.”
At the same time, Lowell finds its own data promising. It can be clearly seen how effective text messages are, so it seems likely that customers indeed want to receive such communication on their cell phones.
“Text messages have an extremely fast response time. The likelihood of receiving a response is also four times higher than with a physical letter, and there is a high probability that the customer will settle the debt immediately,” says Jens Lindeblad.
That is one of the great benefits of mobile debt collection. Text message notifications are given much greater attention than notifications sent via other channels.
“We always have our phone with us and we act quickly regarding important messages. The time from request to action is therefore also much shorter. And this applies not just to the younger generation that is more used to using cell phones,” says Jens Lindeblad.
Later this fall, the solution will be launched widely to all customers.
“We have already come a long way. And this solution shows what the debt collection industry will look like in the future,” says Jens Lindeblad, who concludes:
“Our passion is making credit work better for everyone, including businesses and their customers. Digital solutions make it easier for us to be the company we want to be.”