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Legal Collections – Isn’t ‘Treating Customer’s Fairly’ a given?

Posted
October 23, 2014

In a conversation with a colleague about ‘legal collections’, they said: “Isn’t ‘Treating Customer’s Fairly’ a given?” You would certainly hope so wouldn’t you, and with the emergence of the FCA leading all credit providers and collectors down the road of uniform, high level compliance and quality standards, it should indeed be a given! In fact the FCA state quite clearly: “Treating customers fairly (TCF) remains central to our expectations of firms’ conduct, that firms put the well-being of customers at the heart of how they run their businesses” So, with all its guidance notes and a comprehensive licensing process, it comes as a pleasant surprise that the FCA most recent half yearly complaints have decreased by 15% on the previous half year to 2,479,029 complaints…. Although two and a half million complaints is one hell of number!!! But before we all slap ourselves on the back, they also state that this number is actually 36% higher than the same period in 2010, which takes the shine off it a little bit! What I can tell you, is that a very large proportion of the 2010 figures and the subsequent decrease, relate to Payment Protection Insurance complaints and Insurance in general…so breathe people it’s not all us! TCF has been a requirement since 2007 and was adopted very quickly and with, one could almost say, gusto. The Money Advice Industry pushed for greater forbearance, quickly introduced the Common Financial Statement and then put in trigger figures which clarified and standardised things nicely, no confusion just follow the form.

Then, the Lending Standards Board reviewed their guidance, making it even more customer centric and thus focussing the complaint ridden Financial Industry’s attention on affordability and vulnerability, rather than wringing the life out of someone for a few hundred pounds. It seems like they developed a visible social conscience, something we know had been noticeably absent in previous years …well which of us wasn’t stung for extortionate overdraft fee, and don’t get me started on PPI!!! So swing forward to 2014 and TCF is now part of the common language of any customer facing company in the financial sector. You cannot miss it; it now forms part of the very fabric of most organisations, part of the mission statement, part of the training and call scripting, of the business objectives, the quality provided, the audits, the technology, the growth. 

The customer experience is the starting and ending point for all the outcomes required by any business looking to achieve a sustainable bottom line, which is no mean trick in debt collection. But I think we are all managing to perform the job whilst remaining vigilant and responsive to the circumstances of each individual who finds themselves overstretched and unable to make ends meet. In my opinion, the best results can only be obtained by listening and negotiating a solution that the debtor agrees to, and can actually manage, otherwise you end up effectively being ‘de-friended ‘ by the debtor who’ll simply screen your calls and ignore your emails and letters and worse still …NOT pay a penny! To quote Vince Pfaff: “People tend to resist that which forced upon them, people tend to support that which they help create”  and as contrary as human nature is, he is spot on! So I guess what I’m saying is, It clearly pays to Treat Customers Fairly … so yes, this then makes it a given!

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