Credit Connect’s hosted the latest edition of the Connected News series last week which saw a discussion focused on the delivery of responsible vulnerable communications strategies and the future of the sector discussed by four leading collections professionals.

Banks, credit card providers, building societies, loan providers, collections specialists, utility firms and fintechs were amongst the viewers who tuned in.

Commenting on the event, panel speaker Neil Costello, UK Marketing Director from Lowell said “It was a fantastic event and when you run out of time with tons of questions unanswered it’s always a good sign the conversation was valuable for all!”

Event panelist Anna Roughley, Head of Insight at the Lending Standards Board (LSB) said “Thanks to all who contributed to what was an insightful and engaging discussion. From how businesses can build trust digitally to effective communication, we explored lots of ways in which firms can better support their vulnerable customers. There is one clear message underpinning all of this: it is simply not enough for banks and other lenders to develop and implement a vulnerable strategy. They must ensure the right processes are in place to enable them to continuously identify, monitor, and measure the impact of their work, and then act on it. At the Lending Standards Board, we’re excited to continue to help these firms meet the needs of their vulnerable customers and push this crucial conversation to the top of the agenda.”

Commenting on the event host Colin White Founding Director at Credit Connect said “It was great to see the great number of interactive questions from our audience in what is clearly an important subject as we move into a new economic environment with more changes expected in the next couple months.”

The event can video is now available to watch by following this link.

More events are planned for the second part of 2021 these include:

  • The Online Collections Technology Think Tank – Thursday 16th September – Click here to register
  • The Online Lending Technology Think Tank – Tuesday 12th October – full details to be confirmed soon
  • *Lending & Collections Technology Think Tank Thursday 4th November at the Midland Hotel – full details to be confirmed soon
  • *Credit & Collections Technology Awards ceremony – Thursday 4th November at the Midland Hotel – Click here to book attendance

If you are interested in speaking or becoming a sponsor for any of these events then call 01622 437014 or email events@credit-connect.co.uk for more information. More online events will be confirmed soon.

*Subject to Government guidelines relating to face to face events


Event Questions round-up

  • Do you think debt or managing debt can directly impact and increase an individual’s mental health- if so what do you think the industry needs to do more to help? Or do you think more should be done prior to the debt being authorised?

Neil Costello, Lowell: Absolutely. The identification of customers with vulnerability remains key and mental health and the enhanced awareness of the impact over recent years only raises the importance. As an industry I do think we can do more to signpost to relevant services in this space which is high on our agenda.

 

  • What level of duty of care do companies have when communicating to their customers?

Anna Roughley, LSB: How firms communicate with their customers is one of the most important elements in financial services. This is because it encapsulates everything behind the product and customer journey. For example, at the point of sale, firms need to be sure that the information presented is clear and includes everything the customer needs to make an informed decision. This is communication, and it goes beyond simply delivering the T&Cs required by law or notices required by regulation.

Communication is also integral to how customers are supported once they have taken out the product. How any changes to the product or service are explained and how any queries are dealt with is all about effective communication. Without it, firms are not providing customers with the level of care that the customer had a right to expect when taking out the product. Communication is central to the Standards because of its importance and how it ties into the duty of care that firms have for customers. This could be seen as a duty of care to do what it said it would do when the product was taken out, but also to support the customer during the journey should anything arise that means they need a tailored approach.

 

  • There has been a lot of focus on a move to digitalisation and self-serve which has been accelerated by COVID. Is there a risk of digital exclusion to some customer segments, particularly for some of those customers in vulnerable situations? Are any firms considering the use of field visits to engage with some of their vulnerable customer groups who don’t engage through the more traditional means of contact?

Neil Costello, Lowell: I think the focus has to be on giving customers their channel of choice. Digitalisation shouldn’t be viewed as a cost-saving opportunity – it’s all about offering a space where customers who are uncomfortable talking about their situation, or just want an easy route to clear the debt, have the place to do it.

 

  • Have you/your business implemented supportive communication strategies for your customers? 

Anna Roughley, LSB: At the LSB and the Insight team that I lead, we spend a lot of time supporting firms to improve how customers are engaged and communicated with. This includes all elements of communication whether it be written in a letter or email, spoken during a first-line engagement, or delivered through digital means such as an app or chatbot.

I know that many firms have made great steps towards making sure that the language they use is inclusive and clear, regardless of the channel used. This is an area which will continue to develop as different communication methods and best practice emerge. For those with first-line teams, training, oversight, feedback and coaching is what will drive the greatest change in how firms communicate. By using simple but effective techniques, for example, using open questions when collating information or closed questions when confirming your understanding of a situation, advisers can really improve how they interact with customers. Part of this is down to culture, having a culture within a firm where advisers want to get to the heart of an issue and really help the customer.

 

  • Do any of the companies on the panel use external partners/charities to review websites, communications etc and if so which ones do they use?

Neil Costello, Lowell: I prefer to have confidence in the agencies developing the communications, messaging hierarchy, design, UX etc. and to then combine it with behavioural technology. SiteImprove and Decibel are solutions I’ve used and have been a huge fan of as they give you clear direction on what needs fixing and the value to your business of doing so

 

  • Does anyone have any tips for initiating contact with customers not engaging with firms? so not responding to letters, answering phone calls etc.

Neil Costello, Lowell: At Lowell we have successfully switched on retargeting of visitors to our site in social media who don’t then go on to engage once they’ve visited. Apple’s drive to improve privacy could scupper this over time though so we’re exploring alternative marketing channels


Event Poll Results

What channel do your customers prefer when discussing their personal circumstances/support requirements?

  • Telephone/Agent 60%
  • Face2Face 3%
  • Email 18%
  • Webchat 5%
  • SMS 3%
  • Other 11%

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to managing vulnerability?

  • Recording & maintaining records 21%
  • Proactively contacting customers 49%
  • Channel reach and distribution 6%
  • Customer awareness of available support 24%

* ALL EVENT DATA AND POLL RESULTS ARE COPYRIGHTED TO CREDIT CONNECT MEDIA  AND SHOULD NOT BE USED OR SHARED WITHOUT OUR PERMISSION