Snijder Incasso en Gerechtsdeurwaarder

2020 will mark 25 years since Snijder Incasso en Gerechtsdeurwaarders (Collection and Bailiffs) was founded by the father of the current owner Leonie Snijder. The office, which employs 45 staff members in Beverwijk and Hoorn, became a client of EuroSystems (now called Aryza) shortly after its founding. At the time, that suited – and still does – Snijder’s aim to always be in the vanguard, which includes the use of neural networks to predict the behaviour of its debtors.

When Leonie Snijder started working for her father as a “junior employee”, she had no inkling of what the future had in store for her. “When I was a child I used to ask my father what kind of work he did. I didn’t really understand much of his response. In any case it certainly didn’t seem like much fun. But when I worked on my very first case, which involved collecting a traffic fine, I discovered that there’s always a story behind someone who isn’t paying. This approach – that there’s a story behind everything – is still what drives us to narrow the gap with debtors.”

From father to daughter

Leonie Snijder learned how important it is to handle cases in a socially responsible manner from her father. “He demonstrated that you always have to get to the bottom of a situation first in order to figure out what’s going on. You only determine your strategy after that. We’re essentially still doing the same thing. And we try to persuade our clients and their debtors of that as well, namely that we believe the story behind a debt is important. Because once you’re aware of the story, you know where to find the solution. In addition to flexibility, decisiveness, transparency and innovation, respect has been one of our core values for a very long time.”

An independent operation

Snijder Incasso en Gerechtsdeurwaarders was part of the GGN Group from 2003 to 2008, but after those five years it decided to continue as an independent operation. ‘That was an important decision,” Leonie says, “because we wanted to have complete freedom to make decisions. It has made us stronger, and we made up for the lost volume more quickly than planned. Now, ten years later, we have 45 employees working in different debt collection teams for the authorities, health and fitness organisations, educational institutions, law firms, intermediaries and housing associations. I firmly believe in our approach. After all, every line of business has specific characteristics, and our debt collection teams work with fixed contacts who have a great deal of knowledge about the sector in question. Moreover, we have our own support structure, for example in the area of ICT, so that the required knowledge is available, which enables us to spar on equal terms with suppliers, for example. That’s how we stay in control of everything that goes on.”

Always at the vanguard

Automation has been a key element of Snijder’s policy since the company was founded. The decision early on to use EuroDossier (now called Aryza Navigate), Aryza’s software package for bailiffs, is a good example of this. “We use Aryza Navigator from an efficiency point of view,” Leonie Snijder says. “This software has enabled us to do more with fewer people. But we also stayed with Aryza because over the years they’ve continued to develop the system. And they still are. We work with other ICT suppliers as well, and Aryza enables them to use our data from Credit Navigator as well. Our aim is to always be at the vanguard. We were the first office in the Netherlands, with the help of Aryza, to report a digital attachment to the Digital Attachment Register for court bailiffs. We’re constantly innovating in other areas as well. Debtors can create their own portal on the website, for example, with their e-mail address and a password, where they can access all of their agreements, obligations and payments at any time. That’s real transparency. And it’s a lot more efficient. Right now, people log in about 20,000 times a year, and its use is increasing rapidly. That’s true of other innovations as well, such as debt collection by telephone or the AcceptEmail.”

Self-learning predictions via neural network

The most striking innovation is definitely the Neural Credit Rating that Snijder has been using for some time now. This self-learning computer model uses a specially developed algorithm to predict whether or not it makes sense to resort to judicial debt collection for a given dossier. “Of course, neural networks are hot and many colleagues are eager to start using it,” says Leonie Snijder, “but we’ve already been working with it for three years. It had been a wish of ours for a long time. Neural Credit Rating was developed together with a company called NeurOP based on 42 characteristics of debtors. We extracted these characteristics from more than 150,000 closed dossiers from Credit Navigator. Subsequently the algorithm was tested on about 20,000 other dossiers to assess whether the predicted result was consistent with the actual outcome. Of course there were some setbacks. But now it’s up and running – and it’s paying off. After all, the sooner you determine whether judicial collection is worth pursuing or not, the better. Our clients are essentially saving about 25 per cent on costs, while the amount collected has increased by 4 to 8 per cent. They’re certainly pleased with the result. Of course, it cuts into our profit, but we’ll manage to recoup that elsewhere. The figures attest to this: the market is shrinking and we’re growing.”

Different kinds of added value

According to Leonie Snijder, Neural Credit Rating provides her office with a new way of highlighting different kinds of added value for her clients. “I should add that the use of artificial intelligence doesn’t mean there are no humans involved anymore. On the contrary: it requires major involvement by the client. After all, every client is different, and that’s true of their debtors as well. Ultimately, it’s the client who decides which thresholds to set, and based on that the system recommends appropriate action. Apparently we’re doing something right, because according to research our clients have given us an average score of 8.2 per cent, and 80 per cent of the debtors have given us a passing mark.”

And that’s not all

Leonie Snijder doesn’t see these developments ending any time soon. In fact, she believes the neural network that has put her in the vanguard will be commonplace within a few years. “Undoubtedly we’ll be concentrating on other things at that point to further enhance transparency. In doing so, everything we do will focus on separating those who can’t pay from those who won’t pay. The latter group is our market. In the short term, I can see us making some other important steps in automation – for example, when it comes to garnishee orders and bank repossessions. There are still substantial gains to be made. And that doesn’t always have to be hi-tech. For example, nowadays when we send our second email to a debtor who isn’t responding we attach a video message explaining why it’s so important that he or she contacts us. That works amazingly well.”