The goal: Improve collections effectiveness
A UK electricity and gas supply company had a separate, specialist team to handle arrears collection. Following a review, the client sought a new approach, where the core customer service team would handle the entire customer journey.
Consolidating customer services under a single team presented an opportunity to enhance performance for one of the most challenging areas – arrears collection. Client goals included improving collections performance, boosting customer satisfaction with the process and increasing efficiency, all while staying compliant.
The solution: An integrated approach where the core customer service team handles everything
As an existing partner for customer service Firstsource was perfectly placed to deliver a unified solution. We initiated a project to train customer service advisers on handling arrears conversations and provide ongoing support through coaching.
Our solution ensured advisers have access to an extensive knowledge base and real-time support over Slack. We delivered the information while all of the systems were provided by the client.
The arrears collection process
The process kicks off with an automated email sent to the customer asking them to call in. There is also a system flag so the advisor can see which incoming callers are in arrears. As the advisor is guides the caller by adhering to an established process.
For arrears calls advisers’ responsibilities include:
- Identify the repayments the customer can afford by discussing their income and expenditure with them
- Screen customers for vulnerability, such as age-based, physical or financial vulnerability, have ability to conversations, and update the Priority Services Register (PSR) accordingly
- Use own judgement to evaluate to what extent the customer is in a “can’t pay” or “won’t pay” situation and adapt their approach
- Explore with the customer how they might be able to reduce their energy consumption
- Negotiate and process an immediate payment on the call
- Negotiate a repayment plan with the customer of up to 12 months
- Where appropriate, set up a separate Debt Ledger for ongoing consumption from the debt
- Take into consideration breathing space orders
- Apply to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to have repayments deducted from benefits
- Refer to a third-party collections agency when the customer is obstructive or unresponsive
Compliance is handled through a range of measures including call listening, quality assurance, monthly risk review process, an overall culture of compliance, recognition – all managed by an energy-sector specific compliance offer with over 20 years’ experience.
Success measures are:
- Payments taken on the call
- Customer satisfaction with the process
- Compliance with Ofgem Ability to Pay and Reasonable Steps requirements
The results: Improvement in collection efficiency and customer experience
Increasing amounts of arrears collected and simultaneously boosting customer satisfaction may seem at odds – yet the right process can lead to both. Our client hit all their goals improving collections performance, boosting customer satisfaction and increasing efficiency with:
- 35% increase in average cash collected on the call itself – up from £117 to £159. (£100 is seen as good)
- 11% increase in volume of payments collected
- 50% increase in overall collections performance
- +70 NPS
- PSR complaints cut by 50%