Debt collection throughout time has changed on a frequent basis, from the outdated methods employed pre-technology, to the innovative developments of the internet age. As an energy retailer, you’ll undoubtedly have your own thoughts and feelings about where the industry is heading amidst plenty of controversy over the last couple of years. The only way we can move forward is with innovation and forward-thinking – which is exactly where Chatbuilder comes in.
Looking to transform the way in which you operate, let our team guide you through a brief history of debt collection, alongside some new features which could drastically improve how you function.
Debt management practices can be dated back to as early as 3000 BC, and the societies who once inhabited what is now South-Eastern Iraq. Debtors who were unable to pay their obligation together became ‘debt slaves’, and this would even extend to their family and servants. These individuals were compelled to work for the creditor until they had paid off the loan via hard labour and often painful continuous graft. In some circumstances, paying off the loan could take years upon years. Thankfully, some of the more tolerant early societies introduced debt forgiveness laws, or permitted debt discharges after a set amount of time.
The Greek and Roman empires referred to debt slavery as ‘debt bondage’, though the conditions were very similar in nature. This hardship persisted for many hundreds of years, and was accepted as normal by society. Although still as severe as what came before it, this service required a legally binding contract to be signed between the creditor and the debtor ,and while the debtor was not regarded as a slave technically, the repercussions of the contract would often lead to a lifetime of misery and labour. There would be numerous terms in the contract that favoured the creditor, even requiring the debtor to pay back the obligation numerous times as punishment for their initial wrongdoing.
Following a period of unrest, many nations introduced laws to deal with debt collection in the late Middle Ages, all of which were largely based on a system invented originally in Germany. A creditor could call a debtor to court and ask for a judgement against them if they were unable to pay a debt they owed, more similar to the modern system but with several twists. A Court would give an assigned bailiff instructions to go to the debtor’s property and remove items valued at the debt, before giving those items to the creditor. Lacking organisation, bailiffs would frequently take more than was necessary to settle the obligation; in some cases, they would even force debtors to turn up the deeds to their property.
For failing to pay even a relatively small sum of money that was owed, an individual may have very easily ended up in a Victorian prison for their crimes. The prison population as a whole would have been separated from individuals guilty of accumulating debts, though, and in the late Victorian era, makeshift debt prisons were even designed especially to house debtors. Hardly fair on the individuals in question, the level of comfort provided to debtors while incarcerated was determined largely by their social class prior to being locked up.
The improvement of today’s debt collection techniques is due to the expansion of technology and strict legal regulations. Better management information systems have made it simpler for collection agencies to store and access data. Civilised, moral methods have also been developed to handle debt, and by working with a collection firm that specialises in debt resolution, the aggravated party can achieve a desired outcome with minimal fuss.
2023 will be a challenging year, and customers who incur debt with an energy provider will undoubtedly experience a variety of worries. The industry is under continuous pressure as a result of individuals and businesses not paying their bills, and while a select number of global brands are collecting record profits, some energy retailers have gone out of business. Unpaid bills cause a lot of stress since there isn’t always a clear process for customers to follow. Chatbuilder hopes to change this by providing a simple, easy-to-use interface and a transparent, practical payment process which can be understood by all who use it.
By providing your consumers with a single, centralised hub, Chatbuilder helps to simplify the process of collecting money. Guaranteed message receipt, personalization for consumers and debtors alongside a streamlined payment gateway are excellent for reducing third party expenditure. Additionally, you can automate payment plans, establish individual discounts or start a direct contact to the call centre when a given action is taken.
We’ve built a number of features with you, the energy retailers, in mind – because debt collection is a huge continuous concern for the entire industry. Retailers may be forced to pursue clients across numerous channels, with unpredictable and frequently conflicting results. Collecting debts in the past may have been a much simpler time, and we’re looking to set out the gold standard in 2023 and beyond.
As you of course will already know if you’re reading this, utility providers need precise metre readings to predict supply needs – and produce exact invoices. With many energy businesses contracting to third party suppliers, manually visiting properties is a time-consuming and expensive operation. We have automated the procedure, and with Chatbuilder, the end user is led through a simple process from their mobile device using a straightforward Chatbot.
We are well aware of the challenging circumstances facing energy retailers and their customers, so why not contact our team today for more information? We would be delighted to help!
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