Our client was an app-based energy supplier start-up, selling 100% renewable / offset energy at wholesale costs to its members. They ran a lean business, focused on technology and automation, and outsourced processes where possible. Sigma Connected provided the energy start-up with an outsourced contact centre from 2018 until October 2020 when, like many energy suppliers in the wake of soaring energy prices, they were sadly forced to cease trading.
How Sigma and the start-up’s partnership grew
As an online-based business, the start-up anticipated that most customer contact would be managed digitally either through the website or through their app. But they also knew the importance of the human touch, particularly when it comes to more sensitive issues, such as debt. So, back in 2018, the business asked if we could place one of our Sigma contact centre agents within their business, handling debt collection.
“Members join and manage their energy account online or on an app. This modern approach means we have no inbound call centre – so no more waiting for ages for someone to pick up the phone. Service is usually handled through our AI Chatbot, and our community, which is why so it is so important that our members have the best possible experience when they do speak with us – for this we trust Sigma Connected.” Customer Services Director, of the energy start-up
Our Sigma agent was soon joined by a Sigma consultant, Sarah Henry, with extensive experience in the energy sector. She went in 3 days a week, to help the client further improve collections performance and customer experience.
As their member base grew, so did the number of Sigma agents needed to support the company’s growth, and our team expanded. Meanwhile, it had become apparent that there were other systems and processes within the organisation that also needed addressing and refining to cope with the surge.
As the UK Sigma Connected team became more experienced with the energy company’s ways of working, they entrusted us with more complex work. Core processes could then be offshored to our contact centre in South Africa to be taken care of, while the UK team could increase their support.
Flexibility and agility were key to the partnership
Sigma proactively contacted customers to identify those who were at high risk of Direct Debit failure.
Customers were identified by checking if their Direct Debits had recently increased in value, or through one our bespoke propensity modelling.
A team of 15 FTE were appointed over three consecutive months in order to positively influence the payment habits.
As we have grown rapidly, nurturing a high Trustpilot score and high number of member referrals, Sigma has proven to be flexible and supportive, while consistently delivering strong collections performance.
“Key to Sigma’s collections success are great, helpful conversations with our members that lead to the best outcome for all parties. Sigma has worked hard to align with our community-focussed culture and, in doing so, has become a valued extension to the start-up’s team. Sigma is an excellent partner.” Customer Services Director, of the energy start-up company. Sigma Connected also achieved high performance against KPIs. In 2019/20, we:
- Consistently exceeded monthly collections targets
- Delivered 31% above revenue target and 35% above Direct Debit reassessment targets as an average for the year
- Delivered 61% increase in revenue through card payments
- Contributed to the start-up’s TrustPilot score increasing from a rating of 4 to 4.6 – an improvement of 0.6.
The start-up was also the first partner to pilot Sigma’s new and unique ReachOut initiative, which reconnected with customers who are hard to engage with and struggling to pay bills, through open and honest conversation, guiding them to free advice or to charities who can help with their wellbeing. As a result, we were able to re-engage with 22% of their most vulnerable customers to help them take steps to better manage their finances and, ultimately, improve their ability to pay.
“If Carlsberg created business partnerships, they would put us and Sigma Connected together to create ReachOut.”
Co-Founder, energy start-up company