The holiday season is fast approaching, and now is the time for collections teams to consider how and when they should contact debtors.
Restrictions on debt collection practices vary from country to country, but generally, collectors are prohibited from contacting lendees outside of their work hours. Similarly, collections teams typically cannot reach out to debtors at times known to be inconvenient for the customer.
The following statistics highlight some key figures for lenders in Europe:
- Across the European Union, Malta has the most public holidays, with 14 days annually.
- Domestic credit across the EU reached $24,949.8 billion in Dec 2021, representing an increase of 3.3% year-over-year.
- EU household debt reached $6,639.8 billion in August 2022.
Not all states, countries and localities recognise the same holidays, and many countries set different holiday lengths. But getting ahead now and being proactive with your recovery approach will prevent your business from seeking to recover debts over December and January - when the most widely celebrated holidays occur.
Key dates to avoid when contacting borrowers in the EU
The European Union doesn’t set public holidays for its member states, but the European Commission sets out 14 public holidays per year (of which two are local holidays) for the employees of institutions in the continent.
To help your business get in the know, here’s a list of significant public holidays for institutions of the EU:
Staying ahead of the curve
The list of legally recognised holidays across Europe is extensive, and many countries outside of Europe celebrate a range of different public holidays. As a result, collections departments should be diligent in ensuring compliance with local laws concerning abusive collections practices and permissible contact times. Similarly, lenders should be mindful of public holidays at the regional level, to better ensure the successful receipt of emails, social media messages and SMS correspondence.
Businesses adopting collections strategies with an emphasis on personalisation and enabling user autonomy increase the potential for timely repayments. This often proves particularly valuable ahead of holiday periods, when seasonal spending habits change and, in the case of post-Christmas spending, figures reduce.
The case for going digital
While making a mental note of the dates on which to avoid sending emails and letters might suffice in the short-term, as businesses grow and expand into new geographies, managing the debt recovery lifecycle becomes increasingly difficult. To account for this, key recovery elements like the choice of a communications channel, flexibility of schedule, and customer personalisation help businesses yield better rates of recovery across new regions.
At scale, message personalisation is achieved by better access to data and customer insights, and improved customer segmentation allows businesses to modify communications en masse. Similarly, increased process automation is enabling collections teams to make large-scale adjustments to account for global events and regional holidays.
Better resource allocation for businesses
A digital-first approach is giving businesses the flexibility to test multiple recovery strategies across numerous channels concurrently—while system updates take place automatically. This empowers collections professionals to make informed decisions and improves resource allocation, ensuring teams can operate continuously and independently from IT departments.
By switching to cloud-based, AI-driven collections software, labour-intensive processes like spreadsheet management are eliminated. This facilitates an ongoing responsiveness to external economic factors and fosters event-driven collections approaches year-round, even when staff numbers fluctuate - a common occurrence during seasonal periods.
Looking to learn more about approaches to debt recovery following holiday periods? Read our blog: How to recover consumer debt after the holiday season