Collections teams are now responsible for more customers than ever — are they ready?
The recent announcement from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority concerning its expectations about what to do next with customers who have been affected by COVID-19 — whether they have taken a payment holiday or not — underlines the importance of customer communications. This is true whether the customer is in collections or up to date, but assumes even greater importance for those customers in arrears.
We have learnt a lot in the past 10 weeks. Across EMEA, our clients have all reported similar trends as a result of the pandemic and lockdown.
- Significant impacts to the organisation due to the lack of digital channels in place
- The inability and/or limitations to implementing change at speed
- An historic under-resourcing and funding in collections
These key trends have been severely impacted by the “perfect storm” of dramatically increased call volumes hampering the ability to maintain SLAs — especially with staff absence rates as high as 50%.
What we can all learn from the past few weeks, reinforced by the new guidance from the FCA, is the absolute requirement to put customer communications at the forefront of all operational activity to achieve the best customer outcomes.
Nine Million and Counting
In the UK alone, there have been nine million payments holidays granted. The impact on individual financial organisations has been staggering, with some arranging as many 300,000 payment holidays.
While the majority of these customers will not be in arrears, the new reality is that collections teams will now inherently be responsible for the lion’s share of an organisation’s customer base. This includes not only the responsibility to manage these customer accounts, but also all of the associated customer communications.
Is your collections team up to this challenge?
Or is your company’s reputation at risk because collections has not been central to operational strategy for a while?
The tidal wave of customers being managed by collections isn’t over yet. What is still unknown is how many new customers in the forthcoming months will also need support as the real damage to the economy begins to bite and more jobs are shed.
No matter how much a shock the last two months have been, companies need to be prepared for what is coming and it is imperative that we take the lessons learnt from the past 10 weeks to gear up for the challenge. We are currently helping clients with rapid digital solutions within customer communication that fulfil all the FCA’s guidance requirements. Together we are working to develop a strategy that helps now and for any future collections by allowing the customer to self-serve, as well as providing the customer with the vital information they need.
By: John McMahon, C&R Thought Leader at FICO