Michelle Dunn, Learning, Knowledge & Change Readiness Manager at Lowell, and I were delighted to attend a regional CICM event to talk to members around the work we are doing at Lowell on customer communications.
The Yorkshire-based event provided an ideal opportunity to meet other professionals from across the industry and hear about the great work being done in areas such as analytics, debtor ledger management, and enforcement. It's pleasing that leading companies across our profession are showcasing best practices and helping others to consider such approaches for the benefit of their own customers.
Sharing ideas always make events like this so valuable and it was a pleasure to share Lowell’s thinking around customer communications, and in particular call handling.
The nature of our business provides an interesting set of customer communication challenges. We acquire debt that the originating creditor has not been able to recover and then work with the people owing the debt to improve their financial wellbeing.
Interestingly, the people concerned haven’t chosen to be our customers. More than that, for organisations who use debt sale as a final option in the recovery process Lowell could represent a sixth generation contact point for that customer. This creates a potentially more complex customer journey.
To achieve the best customer outcome we believe communication with our customers is about so much more than conversation technique, tone of voice and understanding a customer’s financial situation.
Through the great work Michelle's Learning and Development Team are doing to coach effective conversation and identifying customer circumstances, we have equipped our staff to handle conversations effectively. However, to achieve outstanding customer experience we also need to appreciate the journey the customer has taken so far and use this insight to optimise interactions.
Training an adviser in the art of controlling a call is the start of a good experience but being able to intelligently inform an adviser how each customer has arrived at that point today is the path to an outstanding experience.
Within the Utility Sector, which is where I focus, knowing which energy provider supplied the stated property and for which period, allows our advisers to open up the very basic conversation with a customer. However, then being able to access information such as the number of meter readings submitted, the meter type, how readings were obtained, the customer’s tariff and unit usage and their history of complaints makes the interaction so much richer and delivers better outcomes.
Effective customer communication therefore combines;
- Effective conversation handling technique and an appropriate tone of voice
- A deep appreciation of the customer’s current circumstances
- Insight regarding the customer’s historic journey
At Lowell, we believe that delivering great customer experience is critical to achieving the best outcomes for our customers and helping them along the road to financial rehabilitation. Ensuring the three elements outlined above work together effectively is an important success factor.