A persistent concern many organisations have about outsourcing is ending up locked into a rigid contract, stuck with the same ways of working as when you first signed up. And, while that may be true of some outsourcers, at Sigma Connected we work differently. We know how important it is to be agile and flexible, so we can grow partnerships and evolve with the needs of our clients and, most importantly, their customers.
Sigma’s partnership with a retail bank began back in 2009. We look after early stage collections on their credit card portfolio, from our offshore contact centre in South Africa. Over a decade later, that partnership has seen many changes, as the requirements of the bank – and its customers – have shifted. Add to that, the changes in the banking industry itself including the introduction of the FCA in 2014 and, more recently, the impact of Covid.
A new approach to collections
With more and more challenger banks emerging, competition is fierce, and customer service can be the real differentiator. Customers can easily turn to another provider if their needs aren’t met. Like most banks, our client has worked hard to enhance its approach to customer experience, putting the customer at the core of the business. Collections has been a particular point of focus, due to the sensitive nature of this service.
Having successfully delivered the collections service for over ten years, our client asked us to expand our role to cover aspects of vulnerable customer care and later stage collections. This expansion required our advisors to be upskilled with more complex, specialist training, to holistically support customers from early- through to point of late-stage collections.
“This partnership is all about trust. Customers put a lot of trust in their bank – and the bank puts a lot of trust in us to reflect their values and look after their customers. So it’s a real testament to the trust they have in us that we’ve been asked to take on this side of the work, dealing with vulnerable customers. In fact, one of our advisors was awarded ‘Best call’ in recognition of how she handled a call from a customer in difficulty” the client commented.
A responsive service in times of change
The ability to react fast to changing situations is vital in customer management – and it’s a strength that makes us stand out from many other outsourcers. As the Covid pandemic has reminded us, big changes can come out of the blue.
“At the height of the Covid pandemic, we were asked to downsize the collections team from over 100, down to 30, then after 6 months swiftly start to ramp back up again to over 100 and we’re still ramping. No one knew what was around the corner, but we were able to meet changing demand successfully.” Jaco Snyman, Director of Financial Services
As a contact centre operation, we had to get government approval to be open and working and put strict measures in place to keep our staff safe, such as transport to collect staff from home, instead of public transport. We managed to be back in the office, working for our clients, within three days.
Growing the partnership further
In August 2021, our client asked us to add customer services to our contract. Just five weeks later, we had recruited 30 agents, aligned trainers, assigned office space and set up the IT. Our first team of agents was trained and taking calls. In January 2022 within a 4-week period we extended the customer service support to an additional Sigma UK fully remote working team of 15 advisors, with the intention to increase that to 30 in March 2022. This will also serve as a champion challenger for our client’s existing hybrid office/homeworking model in the UK. Sigma now operates a seamless UK and South Africa blended service for our client.
Jaco Synman stated “Despite the quick turnaround, there’s no compromise on quality. During the mock call stage of our newly recruited agents’ training, our client said they’d never seen such a successful pass rate (100%) and were impressed with the high standard and learnings that came through on the calls.”