MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN 2012/13
CASE IN POINT | TSLS
Collecting Debt, Adding Value
by Shalane van Rensburg
All journalists have a stock question or two to lead into an interview and begin a discussion, and mine is invariably on the subject of the recession and its impact on a client’s business. Except, when I pose that question to Vasi, her response is: “What recession?” TS Legal Services is TSLS Holdings’ core business and also her first company, which Vasi successfully manages in her typically quiet, but determined, way, to the extent that she has made significant inroads into the local debt-collection sector, with a number of big-name clients and local municipalities on her books.
“I’ve reached a point in my career where I would like to make a difference to the financial services sector. We’ve got more than 10 years of debt-collection experience within TS Legal Services, and we have our own development arm housed within our information technology
company, TS Telecommunications, which, to my mind, leaves us ideally placed to innovate to the benefit of our existing and future clients,” notes Vasi. She attributes much of the success of the company to the fact that it embraces innovation while maintaining service excellence, qualities which she believes are often lacking in the business world.
One example of this innovation is the humanistic approach of TSLS Holdings’ debt-collection arm. “Over the years, we have come to realise that most people are good citizens who would pay their debts if they had the means to do so. Therefore, we have developed a process whereby we allow repayments – even in small amounts – on debts. While civility is common in our industry, kindness and compassion are seldom encountered, qualities which we believe differentiate us from our competitors. Our clients often question this approach initially, but, with time, they realise that our results underpin this philosophy,” explains Vasi.
As TS Legal Services has gained experience and grown its order book and its skills base, so it has strengthened its value chain. “Today, we are in a position to take complete control of a challenging collections environment through the provision of a collection service and its accompanying legal services, and offer call-centre functionality (it has a 2 000-seat call centre) and tracing services, all encompassed within a single service offering,” she notes.
As TS Legal Services grew, Vasi seized the opportunity to branch out into other sectors. For example, having endured its own Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and call-centre trials, TSLS Holdings spun off a telecommunications arm, TSL Telecommunications, to help other small and medium-sized enterprises with their telephony requirements. This move proved to be prescient, as it introduced Vasi and her team to the realm of software development, initially offshore, but, with time, she appreciated the need for localised solutions which would, furthermore, contribute to growing the economy.
Over the years of software development, Vasi never lost sight of leveraging the benefits of all the systems and processes that TSLS Holdings had to offer in order to propel TS Legal Services into a new sphere, that of integrated revenue management solutions. “We have gained first-hand experience of the challenges that local government, in particular, faces when collecting monies. For this reason, it makes perfect sense for us to provide an enhanced revenue collection service that utilises a strong technological base,” she says of the company’s recently launched integrated revenue management solution. Vasi points out that TSLS’s software is an ideal adjunct to the electronic systems that already exist within municipalities. “Our software provides an integrated revenue management value chain, with the exception of billing operations,” she adds. Moreover, TS Legal Services is also able to provide clients with the necessary support in terms of skills, training, information technology infrastructure and advisory services to implement and sustain its solution.
“Although the software can be used in both the private and public sector, it is my ambition that we achieve a significant uptake of our revenue management solution in the local government sector before we expand into the private sector or take our solution further into Africa. It is, after all, a world-class product developed right here on our doorstep, and there would be perfect symmetry if this product were to be used at a local government level, both here in Africa’s economic powerhouse and elsewhere on the continent, to ensure efficient revenue management,” concludes Vasi.