A discussion point that came out before and also during the Credit Strategy’s Utilities and Telecoms Conference highlighted the importance and benefit of outsourced collections as a priority over a debt sale.
Both Ian Parry, Head of Customer Payments at First Utility, and Ben Jones, Managing Director of Operations at Extra Energy were keen to stress this point ahead of the conference, with debt sale considered a last resort and certainly not a replacement for good collections practice.
This was particularly refreshing to hear as sometimes it can seem that the decision to sell debt is taken not because all efforts have been exhausted both internally and externally, but because it is felt that it is the “easier” route with a clearly defined (though low) cash return.
Combining this strategy with the failure to appoint a third party early enough in the process, when collection success is so much higher and less expensive, or to not enforce internal professional debt collection can only lead to an unsatisfactory result all round.
Like so many industries there is a real concern over the increasing problem of fraud and theft (and the need to segregate this from other sources of potential bad debt) as well as the need to focus on customer vulnerability and Treating Customers Fairly, and here an FCA authorised collector can add tangible value ensuring the collection process is fully compliant.
At STA underpinning our strategy is our Corporate Collector Accreditation from the Credit Services Association which, alongside our ISO9001 quality accreditation and in-house Training Manager, gives consistent collection tactics with outcomes to match. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for accounts formed under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, and using the latest IT solutions with the ability to trace and collect internationally also means we achieve industry leading pre-legal collection successes.
Our sympathetic approach enhances the customer experience; protecting the client’s brand and reputation, minimising bad debt write-off provisions or the need to sell off a large percentage of debt portfolios.
With Utilities and Telecoms operating in such a cutthroat market and with new entrants and technology continuing to drive down prices, we should not underestimate the benefit of successful outsourced contingent collection like that offered by STA. A successful collection process helps companies keep costs under control and, by passing these savings on to their customer, helps them to remain competitive.