Now that the dust has settled almost two years since the introduction of GDPR regulations, we’re beginning to get a better picture of how these changes have impacted the world of veterinary debt collection.
In general terms, most veterinary practices bought into the spirit of the regulations, even though few really understood what it all meant in everyday situations.
However, over the last 20 months, the team at DSL has worked tirelessly to help customers improve GDPR compliance, in turn increasing revenue.
So, how are the two issues connected?
In short, getting GDPR right can reduce bad debt.
Unfortunately there will always be customers who don’t pay on time, so debt collection agencies will always be around to offer help, guidance and assistance with collecting overdue accounts. But day-to-day practices are often at the root of debt collection difficulties.
Here’s what’s happening every day, in veterinary practices around the country and is actually suppressing cash flow:
While there was much concern about the implications of GDPR prior to its implementation, it quickly became clear that the new law has actually changed little in terms of the quality of personal customer data being passed to third-party collection services.
For example, we still frequently receive customer details with:
- No first initial
- No first name
- Incorrect post codes
- Incorrect or partial address details
- No telephone number
- No working telephone number
- No email address
- No clear bill payer details
- No signed consent forms agreeing to take financial responsibility
- No joint and several information i.e. if a couple present with an animal, obtaining personal contact details for each person would be beneficial.
This is not an exhaustive list but gives a good snapshot of the kind of data gaps still plaguing the industry.
So why is this a problem?
In short, poor data in means less money out.
From a legal perspective, it’s worrying that practice staff are unaware they are not complying with GDPR 2018 regulations effectively but, from a business perspective, this has very real impact on income.
If you don’t have the correct personal data, it’s much more difficult to contact non payers and secure payment. It takes more time, reduces cashflow and can put a practice under real commercial pressure.
Yes, asking customers for personal details can be awkward but in a world where you can’t watch catch up TV without registering your personal data, why allow customers to obtain expensive treatments without knowing who they are and how to contact them?
So what can veterinary practices do to improve their data collection processes?
- Introduce a formal customer on-boarding process
- Implement a documented data cleansing procedure to verify existing customers personal information held on system.
- Verify information offered by new customers i.e. ask to see a driving licence, utility bill, passport or similar document.
Don’t be an April Fool
At DSL, we have seen a noticeable increase in the value of revenues collected for customers that have applied GDPR regulations properly; reducing bad debt, improving cashflow and increasing profitability. If you follow the rules, bad debt will reduce and cash flow will improve!
With high street banks due to increase commercial overdraft rates, credit and debit card transaction fees, from 1 April 2020 – some by as much as 100% – failing to get your data right makes you a real April Fool.
These changes all add costs to veterinary businesses, reducing margins and putting pressure on cashflow. Therefore, it’s never been more important to collect overdue accounts as quickly as possible.
For more information about how DSL can help, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01527 543672