How a 10-year partnership with a UK energy retailer has grown and delivered improved collection rates and high return on investment

How a 10-year partnership with a UK energy retailer has grown and delivered improved collection rates and high return on investment

Overview

Sigma Connected has been providing Collections services for a large UK energy retailer for 10 years. In that time this partnership has grown in terms of size and services provided, as well as delivered improved Collection rates and a high return on investment back to the client. This is down to our investment in people and technology, commitment to a sensitive and empathetic human-centric, customer service, and our policy of continuous improvement to deliver above and beyond.

Background

We began with a small Collections team of c. 30 FTE in the UK, dealing with early arrears. Stepping in when a due payment had just tipped over into a missed payment for an active customer, and also collecting final account debts. We continue this service today but, over 10 years, that small team has grown to 350 FTEs, largely based in Cape Town, South Africa, delivering an expanding complex service still focused on ensuring a positive customer experience.

The secret to the partnership’s success

Our services:

Debt collection is always going to be a challenging, sensitive and complex task. Sigma Connected has a long history in Collections. That extensive experience, coupled with an energy industry knowledge that’s second to none, means we deliver expert services to this big-hitting energy client.

And, as an organization that firmly believes in the importance of empathy and the human touch, we always find the right balance between business needs and the well-being of customers. We believe that a good customer experience is always important, and we aim to maintain customer loyalty during and after the Collections process.

Our people:

Sigma Connected has been named as one of the UK’s top employers in The Sunday Times Best Places to Work survey. We recruit our people carefully and practice Impact Sourcing both in the UK and South Africa. This means we have dedicated, happy employees with low attrition rates.

Lengthy training of our teams ensures that they are immersed in the intricacies and specifics of the client and of the energy sector. This means they are fully equipped with the knowledge and level of seniority to find the right solution for each individual customer, even in more complex situations, without handing off.

Continuous improvement and extra services:

We work on the premise of continuous improvement in all our partnerships – and this one is no exception. We refine and improve our service adding extra value, over and above our contract, and in most instances at no extra cost to the client, including:

  • Intensive analytics – we have added in a powerful data analytics and insight service, complete with a team of analysts, dedicated to the client. The team can identify immediate issues, as well as look at performance and spot patterns over longer periods of time supporting the client to make operational changes across the service.
  • Investment in an improved outbound contact strategy, tailormade for the client.
  • The latest technology – in addition to our omnichannel seamless service we have invested in a dedicated intelligent Interactive Voice Messaging (IVM) service for the client for outbound dialing and inbound routing.
  • Skill-based priority routing for inbound calls, which not only prioritizes inbound calls, but looks for top performing (priority 1) agents best equipped to deal with the call.
  • Extended training – we train agents beyond the requirements of the client, followed by four weeks in our own ‘Grad Bay’. This makes sure our new agents are fully confident and competent and trained to deal with complex situations and effectively identify vulnerable customers. This means our speed to competency is excellent, and our data shows there’s little to no dip in service when new agents come on board.
  • Additional investment into the campaign and structure, including a dedicated head of operations and service delivery managers.

Results

During this partnership we have delivered a x 25 return on investment (ROI) to the client. We consistently meet and exceed SLAs, including the ‘golden measure’ of Collections, the collections v opportunity ratio. Since 2021 we have increased collections v opportunity by:

  • 6% on live inbound calls – from 35.7% to 50.3%
  • 4% on final inbound calls – from 23.2% to 63.6%
  • 5% on live outbound – from 5.3% to 7.8%
  • 2% live outbound calls – from 3.1% to 5.3%

Our client also works with three additional collection agencies. The agency that performs better month on month gets a higher allocation of customer calls.  As a result of our consistently strong performance, we have been allocated the majority share of the calls, which sits around 80% for live inbound calls, 65% for live outbound.

As you can see from the data below we have also outperformed these agencies.

 

 

 

 

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