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Data Pre-COVID is Useless... Or is it?

Updated: May 16, 2023

It’s difficult to find a person or organization that hasn’t been touched by the COVID event. We shop, do business, socialize, and consume healthcare with different expectations. You may have heard people say that since all this upheaval, data you have from “before” is no longer useful. But wait, did the world really start over? Are all data useless? No, of course not. The response to industry-shaking events is to study more data, to widen our lens. Data remains the best fuel for evidence-based decisions. When we widen our lens (see Chart 1 for a 20-year review of recoveries across 80 agencies), we see numerous global and national events that have shaken economies and formed the zeitgeist of our recent history. These include the recession of 2008-2009 that depressed recoveries and the TCPA regulation that curbed automated dialers in 2016. Of course, we can also see when we experienced disturbances in the data. In Chart 2, we notice dips in creditor listings when the world shut down during 2020. Our view of data includes outcomes (such as answered phone calls and payments) as well as activity. While activities are volatile, outcomes have been less so. We see call activity dipping in March and April, resurging in late summer, and then dipping again in November in Chart 3. This pattern reflects shutdowns nationwide, even though there were agencies that stayed open continuously. We also see agencies responding to the stimulus bumps in 2021. As we review the outcomes of calls, we are more prepared to attribute erosion of consumers answering calls (RPCs) to the general public’s disinclination to answer telephone calls than to any COVID related reason. You can see a depression in RPCs year over year in Chart 4. Regardless of the reason for the deterioration in the answered calls outcome, a smart agency will diversify communication channels to reach consumers in preferred ways. Instead of doubting your data, know that if your data were reliable before 2020 (captured cleanly, reflecting activity and outcomes faithfully), they are still as true and vital now. With ever scarcer resources and decreasing value of phone calls (shown in Chart 5, below), predicting the most collectable accounts to work is critical. An astute collection manager aligns profitable activities against each segment, from low-cost low-touch activities to high-cost high-touch activities. The good news is that the validity of our predictability score remains intact year over year in times of upheaval and relative calm, shown in Chart 6. Data remains the optimum fuel for evidence-based decisions. With Intelitech, you can harness the power of your data to improve your business performance and grow your confidence in the face of uncertainty.


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