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New technologies for the future – an interview with Hubert Duda, Board Member of APS Polska

New technologies are the future. Investments in intelligent solutions affect the development of the enterprise, give possibility to build its competitive advantage, affect revenues as well as the company’s image.

According to the new report ‘Digital in 2018’* talking about the state of the digital market, over 4 billion people around the world use the internet! This means that almost half of the population using mobile applications is “online” on average 2 hours a day. These changes and market trends as well as the needs of our clients have inspired us to create an application for mobile employees, which is currently implemented in several debt collection companies in Poland and abroad. We have decided to take a closer look how this out-of-the-box solution works at APS, which has been dealing with debt service for over 15 years. Hubert Duda – Head of Sales, Board Member at APS Poland, part of APS Group, talks about how debt collection activities are carried out in Poland and how it is done abroad, as well as what prompted APS to invest in the VSoft application for field debt collectors.

VSoft: Today you are already present in 14 countries. What is the specifics of debt service in an international company – holding company?
Hubert Duda: The question perfectly fits in the round anniversary of our activity, especially focusing on the markets of Central and Southeastern Europe.
Such anniversaries are a great opportunity for synopsis and I can confidently admit that the specificity of debt service in an international company is a constant theme and subject of meetings of the management staff in APS Group.

Despite of common experience, European legal database – especially in the field of applications so-called continental right – the differences and specificity of debt collection activities in the different markets are significant. Given this situation, we do not transfer the model of action from one country to another. We always use the know-how from countries where we are already present, best practices and best patterns and examples of effective implementations.
We take into account the very specific needs of markets, clients, and our investment partners.
We follow this by looking for a competitive advantage, thanks to the knowledge of the region’s unique specifics and even the opportunities that are currently showing up in it.

VSoft: How does the customer service look like in each country?
HD: Always, when adapting debt collection competences, one should understand the differences in client approach form the perspective of creditor in each country.
Of course, the market closest to me is the Polish one – in Poland debt collection activities are carried out at an early stage of expiry. In fact, sometimes – which we promote at APS Poland – they are, or should be, an element of the relationship management policy under “customer care”.
It is carried out on a regular basis, even before the maturity of payments, to resolve issues that would give an excuse or risk of delay in payment by clients – our clients. In other markets, the idea of combining after-sales care or other activities using a “call center engine” is not obvious – this type of service is one thing, and debt collection is another. With respect to the portfolio transactions, Polish creditors are quite conservative, cautious, and sometimes even preservative.

For example – it is difficult to understand why they are not interested in receiving offers for mortgage-secured debt packages as separate one from the unsecured ones? What’s wrong with having more offers and negotiating them in a specialized way, thus having a chance to get a higher price for a secured package? We in APS pay special attention to this, due to our specialization, we are only interested in claims with real estate collateral. There is no such problem in other markets. Just like a rigid formalization of the shape and content of the offers. Here, let’s be honest – the price parameter should be a determinant, and all formal requirements must be absolutely complied with, but it all needs to be done at the stage of finalizing the transaction agreement. And why the documentation is prepared in English by only few creditors? Did they forget that having such materials, they increase the chance of raising capital from organizations and investors, who, acting globally communicate only in this language? Here again, other markets are more open to such – as it seems – obviousness.

VSoft: APS is growing bigger and bigger – the company clients’ portfolio is growing as well as the number of outlets on the map of Europe and the world. Did the company’s growth affected the decision to implement the solution for field workforce? What were the other reasons?

HD: The innovation of this solution, good communication with the VSoft team, with a the software house that can drive interest to its ideas, and then … and then active implementation in Poland and the possibility to recommend VSoft Mobile Workforce in “other APS markets”.
The other factor that helped us was the rapid implementation into the application of the GDPR standards and official it confirmation in consistent communication with the market.

VSoft: How does the international nature of your company affect the management of tasks and field employees?
HD: Here – regardless of the international character – every novelty, including implementation, causes “resistance of employees against change”. I think this may be the main reason for ineffective implementation of management changes. We need to seek support, understanding at every level of human resources – from decision-makers, through middle managers, to executive staff “on the so-called first line”. It is because the fear of a “new” turns into an unnecessary discussion related to emotions rather than real problems. Of course, there are emotions – so how to convince people who, due to their age, were not born with a smartphone in a hand, to break and change habits? Work with them, convince and prove the advantage of the new one.

Build the understanding of market requirements and the needs of customers who want to pay only for effectiveness, quality and safety.
For me, the issue of the participation of the “human factor” in implementations and its essential role in this process (from researching needs, preparing decisions and implementation, usage “after implementation” and ending up with evaluation) is crucial!
I would add that in all markets, increasing recovery parameters and efficiency of debt recovery, while ensuring compliance policy, is much easier thanks to IT implementations and solutions. Especially it is important in the changing legal environment and in order to meet the expectations of the regulator. I should mention that technology should give a competitive advantage, but it should always be assessed taking into account the scale of the business in which it was introduced. I observe that it becomes rather an “expected standard”, without which company cannot compete at all – in other words, it simply falls out of the market.

VSoft: Thank you for the meeting, we wish you further success!

(*source: /2018/01/global-digital-report-2018)