Tag Archive for: Collections

On the 7th of July we had the pleasure of having Dr. Stephanie Fitzgerald join us at the Collections and Recoveries Roundtable meeting in London to discuss best practices for preventing and managing burnout.

Since the pandemic, burnout has become particularly challenging for Collections front-line agents given the challenging conversations they have whilst working from home. Dr. Fitzgerald provided the group with practical techniques to use on their own teams to prevent burnout and build a healthier working culture.

Dr. Fitzgerald will also be joining us at the upcoming Customer Service and Complaints Roundtable meeting on the 15th and 16th of November in Birmingham. If you are interested in joining for the event, please reach out to roundtables@auriemma.group, or you can purchase a copy of her upcoming book “Reworked” on Amazon.

(London, UK) Collections Departments faced unprecedented challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, from embracing remote working to managing significant payment holiday volumes. And now, they must take action on HMT Breathing Space while transitioning from payment holidays. Auriemma Group’s Collections and Recoveries Roundtable has been discussing these events and their corresponding strategies amongst the UK’s top financial institutions. These two deadlines are quickly approaching, and along with the unpredictable macroeconomic environment, lenders must leverage learnings from the last year to prepare for the likely spike in volume ahead.

“Payment holidays have been the primary focus since the beginning of the pandemic, but with the extension of support schemes, that has now switched, and priority is on HMT Breathing Space,” says Louis Stevens, Director of Roundtables at Auriemma Group. “However, the payment holiday conclusion date is looming, which could mean a significant strain on Collections teams.”

In 2020, lenders quickly learned the need for automation and additional headcount to manage volume spikes, and they are now applying these learnings to prepare for the coming months. On average, lenders intend to increase their collections teams by 42% throughout 2021. Additionally, 86% of lenders have invested in their automated decisioning and digital channels to prepare for volume spikes.

Are Lenders Prepared for HMT Breathing Space?

On 4th May 2021 HMT Breathing Space (Debt Respite Scheme) will go into effect, giving consumers in problem debt the right to legal protections from their creditors. The Debt Respite Scheme has two paths: either through “standard problem debt” or through “a mental health crisis” referral. During this moratorium, lenders cannot communicate with customers and must stop interest from accruing.

According to Auriemma Group’s Collections and Recoveries Roundtable, as of April 1st,69% of lenders indicated that they feel somewhat prepared for the regulation, and the remaining 31% still feeling somewhat unprepared. There are a number of remaining concerns affecting preparedness, including the delay of the creditor portal, ambiguity in the regulation and unknown volumes.

To try to estimate the volume of customers who could potentially enrol in the scheme, lenders are utilising data from payment holidays, debt-advice charities and usage rates of other types of breathing space (e.g., CONC). They are also slightly increasing forecasts due to the worsening economy, payment holiday conclusions and the ceasing of furlough programs.

38% of lenders have already, or are planning to, increase their teams due to HMT Breathing Space. Initially, most lenders will use a combination of manual and automated processes to manage the regulation with the hopes of further automating as they get a better grasp on volumes.

How Will Payment Holiday Conclusions Affect Operations?

Although the deadline to enrol in payment holidays was 31st March, consumers have the option to extend their payment holidays until 31st July as long as it is within their six-month allowance for both secured and unsecured products. The number of customers returning to contractual payments after a payment holiday has remained strong; however, 92% of lenders are anticipating an increase in delinquency volumes following the conclusion of payment holidays.

“The primary watchout is the cohort of customers working in particularly hard-hit sectors, such as travel, tourism and food service. As the support ends for these sectors, we could see significant increases in delinquency volumes as many of these businesses are currently overstaffed,” says Stevens. “The magnitude of volume is contingent on the ability of the economy to bounce back and if predictions, such as the travel boom, come to fruition.”

Customers needing additional support will likely look to long-term forbearance plans, which have caused lenders to focus their attention on that process. Investments have been made in streamlining income and expenditure assessments and digitising the forbearance enrolment process as well as increasing the size of Vulnerable Customer teams.

Auriemma Group’s Collections and Recoveries Roundtable is tackling these challenges head on through our executive meetings, workshops and benchmarking exercises. Within the next three months, the group will be meeting six times with two sessions dedicated to HMT Breathing Space. If you are interested in attending any of these sessions, please reach out via roundtables@auriemma.group.

About Auriemma Group

For more than 30 years, Auriemma’s mission has been to empower clients with authoritative data and actionable insights. Our team comprises recognised experts in four primary areas: operational effectiveness, consumer research, co-brand partnerships, and corporate finance. Our business intelligence and advisory services give clients access to the data, expertise and tools they need to navigate an increasingly complex environment and maximise their performance. Auriemma serves the consumer financial services ecosystem from our offices in London and New York City. For more information, call Louis Stevens at +44 (0) 207 629 0075.

(LONDON) – The debt collections space in the U.K. is ripe for disruption: As outbound dialling performance yields decreasing returns, lenders have an opportunity to explore other contact strategies.

Over the last 18 months, core dialler performance metrics have deteriorated, according to Auriemma Roundtables data. A key indicator, right-party contact (RPC) rate, fell from 2.5% to 2%, a decrease of 20% since November 2017. Despite this slipping performance, firms have been apprehensive to retire their diallers, which have been the cornerstone of collections outbound strategies since the 1980s. Outbound calling is still relied upon to drive output, keep agents at the heart of the collections process, and demonstrate to internal stakeholders that firms are performing their part in mitigating risk by contacting customers to resolve their arrears.

Auriemma’s Roundtable members have often viewed the inertia associated with outbound dialling as a major hurdle in the adoption of alternate communication channels. To mitigate the decline in dialler performance, U.K. firms are looking at a variety of experimental solutions to improve overall contact rates.

Omnichannel Approach

Challenger banks by design have minimal telephony operations and demonstrate strong customer engagement via digital channels. Without the handicap of legacy systems, these firms utilise more efficient ways to support delinquent customers, primarily relying on live chat and two-way SMS staff using omnichannel systems. These systems provide agents with a holistic view of customer interactions across all channels and products throughout the account lifecycle. Consequently, agents are equipped with deeper knowledge of customers’ past interactions and can better anticipate contact preferences.

“Dialler-less” Approach

Recently, a few firms have tested completely switching off outbound dialling for the lifecycle of ring-fenced accounts and continued to track the progress of the test group. Inbound contact rate remained flat – disproving the prevailing wisdom that most inbound calls are responses to a voicemail or a missed call from a number. Moreover, turning off the dialler saves considerable costs and resources which can be reallocated across alternate and more efficient contact channels.

One such firm found performance improvement when testing tactical and precise usage of SMS, email, and live chat for customer outreach as a substitute for the dialler. This makes intuitive sense, due to the predominance of non-voice communication for the bulk of servicing requests and customer avoidance of answering calls from unidentifiable numbers. Moreover, missed calls or cryptic voicemails can further degrade repayment rates, as many customers perform Internet searches for these phone numbers, which may lead to incorrect information listing the number as part of a scam.

As the customer preferences continue to evolve, the way firms communicate will have to change to ensure future success. Auriemma’s Collections and Recoveries Roundtable provides members with access to industry expertise and best practises to support actionable improvements within the debt collections space.

About Auriemma Group

Auriemma Group’s mission is to give clients access to data and intelligence that drive decision-making. We provide information and advisory services in four areas: operational intelligence, co-brand partnerships, consumer research, and corporate finance. Founded in 1984, Auriemma serves the consumer finance industry from our offices in London and New York City. For more information, visit us at www.auriemma.group or Louis Stevens at +44 (0) 207 629 0075.

© Copyright - Auriemma Group