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Taking a more proactive approach to helping vulnerable customers

Collections & Recoveries

Taking a more proactive approach to helping vulnerable customers

Just think how effective it would be to have all the customer information right where you need it and being able to protect financially vulnerable customers.

It’s always been challenging to collect delinquent revenues and rehabilitate customers, but as consumer indebtedness has deteriorated supply costs have increased and regulatory constraints on how utility companies approach debt management have been tightened.

Traditionally, debt collection has always been about collecting money. However, its focus is now shifting towards helping the customer to self-cure and find a realistic and sustainable payment option.  Whereas other organisations might only be looking to help customers in arrears, we know of many taking a far more pro-active approach in helping customers in and out of arrears.  One in particular is Yorkshire Water who we’ve recently started working with to help identify and support customers who are under pressure with the cost of living.

Through Integrated Collections Data (ICD) Desktop tool, utility providers can;

  • focus on information that is important to them
  • access a customer’s credit expenditure
  • validate income levels.

This on-screen view can be tailored enabling collection teams to understand each individual circumstances and agree realistic, sustainable agreements with the consumer.

Differentiating between outstanding revenue on the balance sheet and debt that will ultimately hit the P&L can be challenging on an account by account basis – it can be difficult to make a priority call based on internal data in isolation.  Only a small proportion of customers fall into debt, and a smaller proportion of those impact the bottom line when accounts are written off.

Early segmentation based on ability to pay, propensity to pay and level of engagement is key to efficiently deploying collections efforts where the risk of downstream P&L impacts are highest.  Accurate billing is also key with accounts often falling into ageing debt buckets as a result of disputed responsibility; obtaining evidence of residency periods can be unreliable given the difficulty with confirming authenticity of documents – such processes hinder collections efforts, have operational expense impacts and for genuine customers, represent a poor customer experience and desire to move on.

The way forward in reducing debt for both consumer and company is to start being proactive and helping those in and out of debt. Agreeing realistic and sustainable payment arrangements on mutually beneficial terms that pay off for the individual will ultimately pay off for utility companies.

If you would like to find out more about how ICD may help your business I’d be happy to speak with you-

Author: Mitul Patel

Related links

Take a look at our Collections’ brochures
The Money Statistics July 2015
UK consumers are now half a billion pounds in debt to energy suppliers
FCA – Treating customers fairly




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