This blog is by Frank Hammerton, the Business Development Director of Teleperformance Collections.
The collections business is changing and fairness is at the heart of new regulations that will shake up the industry. This is all linked to the demise of the Financial Service Authority (FSA) and the new broom of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which will ensure that much of the regulation that used to apply only to Financial Service (FS) companies will now also apply to utilities too.
The important acronym to remember is TCF: Treating Customers Fairly. Having a policy that sits gathering dust is no longer an option because the FCA wants to see evidence that at every possible interaction with the customer, the customer felt that the treatment by the organisation was fair.
Clearly this means that collections need to be handled with some sensitivity, but there has long been a difference between companies that operate ethically in this area and those who pester and threaten vulnerable consumers.
The utility firms I have spoken to appear to have the same goal as the FS companies, but they are taking a different approach. An FS company would typically say ‘the rules say X, which we think means Y, so ensure that you do Z regardless of the commercial implications.’
The utilities appear to be more focused on just having the right conversations with customers, helping them to a good outcome, and assuming that the commercials will work out if the customers are looked after.
The FS companies use compliance to protect against fines and even more scrutiny, but the utilities are looking at the bigger picture. They need to protect their brand, reputation, and they ultimately want to retain customers.
For the utilities, it could be that compliance guidelines and collections where the customer feels fairly treated are the key to keeping customers for the long-term.
Photo by Robert Steinhöfel licensed under Creative Commons