Shared Support services
A university client approached us in the summer to discuss options regarding a marked increase they had seen in debt from international postgraduate courses. They wanted to avoid going straight to debt recovery with these current students; instead, they wanted additional credit control support to ensure they had all been contacted by phone and any queries elicited. Time was of the essence, as they wished to complete the project before the end of the term while the students were still on campus. Their internal resources – people and telephony – wouldn’t be able to cope with the numbers on time.
We agreed on a script for use by selected members of our student collections team – calling in the university’s name – using our dialler telephony between 6 pm and 8 pm over three to five days. The aim wasn’t to collect the monies owed but to encourage payment via the university payment portal or direct contact with either the income or welfare teams.
There were just over 700 international students – primarily Nigerian and Indian – owing circa £2.3M. We ran the campaign in early July, achieving a 60% contact rate directing students to make payments at the university portal and ascertaining where Nigerian students were in the Form A process. Where we could not make actual contact and have conversations, we left voicemail messages where possible, increasing the overall connect rate to 80%.
More recently, a student accommodation client approached us about conducting a similar campaign for tenants in arrears but still in occupancy at one of their sites. In a similar scenario, the client did not want to go straight to debt recovery but instead adopted a firm credit control telephone campaign for the tenants and, where necessary, the guarantors. It was a smaller campaign – just over 200 student tenants – directing students to pay via their payment portal or, where there were any issues/disputes, to go to the reception at the accommodation. As a result, we achieved a 71% contact rate from the original 200 tenant arrears.
This month, we begin a campaign for another university client with similar issues to the above of unpaid international tuition fees, not wanting to go straight to debt recovery but receiving additional telephone credit control support to supplement their in-house dunning cycle of reminder letters. Unfortunately, once again, university resources could not make the volume of calls required in the time available.
In September last year, a university client wanted support to handle the credit control function of its company/sponsor ledger for the short term due to staff shortages. These staff shortages meant there had been limited internal collection efforts over several months, apparent from the number of accounts in ageing buckets.
Based on the high number of overdue accounts and unallocated cash, we proposed a short-term clean-up exercise conducted in the client’s name using a dedicated member of our confidential credit control team to bring the ledger back into good order.
We agreed on a script and collection process and assigned dedicated telephone numbers and email addresses. We expected a high level of queries and invoice requests, managing all of these through our web-based reporting tool, Your Debts Online. The campaign commenced in late October, and by year-end, we connected with most of their customers, collecting over £1.4M. The outstanding balance is either in ‘promised payment’ or a query awaiting client feedback.