StepChange has just issued a review of its interactions with new clients and, like previous years, this is a must read for any professional involved in financial services, particularly those involved in debt management. This year, the report includes a point of interest to call centre debt counsellors specifically.
The StepChange report shows that more than a third of the clients who started their debt advice journey through the charity’s telephone service had a negative budget (where monthly expenditure exceeds monthly income), compared to less than a quarter who started their debt advice session online. Clearly, StepChange clients in this position want to talk about their situation, not write about it. This mirrors lender customer behaviours; we know this from our regular discussions with collections managers. But it also applies to the call centres run by other financial institutions. Some call centres do not deal with such situations adequately, as evidenced by FCA fines in respect of arrears and forbearance issues.
Previous FCA decision notices reinforce the importance of call centre agents taking sufficient steps to establish individual customer circumstances, to correctly assess a customer’s ability to afford any agreement, to efficiently identify customers who may be vulnerable and to ensure correct information is provided (especially in respect of fees) and that there are no miscommunications.
Financial institutions are seeing an increase in arrears and an increase in the volume of customer interactions regarding their budgets. This situation will only get worse as interest rate and cost of living rises increase the number of customers with negative budgets. The time to improve oversight of these functions is now!
Yabber is here to help. Our call centre oversight can monitor and analyse 100% of customer interactions, highlighting the ones that fail for follow up reviews. This puts firms in a much stronger position than the traditional random sampling on less than 5% of calls. In addition, the Yabber team has extensive experience of arrears and collection calls. To learn more and to see how our independent oversight can help you, arrange a demo of the system or simply have a chat, give us a call.