Ways Wescot Is Reducing Mis-Traces

wescotMis-traces by collection agencies are a rather large problem that consume a great deal of time and money as well as infuriate those that are continuously bothered in the attempt to glean errant contact information leading to high numbers of complaints. But what can be done by those in the industry to significantly reduce recurring mistakes?

The Problem

Wescot and other debt collection agencies that are active members of the Credit Service Association (CSA, have experienced large volumes of data cleansing. Current figures reveal that upwards of 70% of newly loaded business requires cleansing when received. This reflects a 40% increase over figures produced in 2007 before the global economic crisis.

There are several reasons for the escalations in data cleanse requirements. Banks hit hard by the downturn were forced to make extreme adjustments in mortgage lending procedures. Loans allowing 110% of value have disappeared and offers providing interest-only have become extremely difficult to find.

These changes have led to more people losing homes, seeking rentals over purchases and living with family members instead of independently. This shuffling and destabilising of a once more stable customer base along with a continuously weakened economy has produced a challenge to debt collection companies like Wescot to locate goneaways.

Current strategies utilise a growing arsenal of smart-data systems for tracing customers which are actually just lead generators. Quite often, the data gleaned from such systems only works to compound the problem as erroneous debris is simply transferred from file to file.

The Solution

Companies where debt originates, as well as debt buyers and debt collection agencies to whom they turn, have had to make adjustments to meet these new trace challenges. Wescot quickly made such adjustments to strategies employing cleanse and trace methods and is one reason they are one of the largest UK companies in the industry today.

Wescot registers well over 250,000 new debts from its clients each month so better data trace and management tactics have to be employed. The solutions that have been found to be successful include combining traditional and electronic trace methods to increase contacts. Once contacts are made, agents take extra time to find out why customers are financially unable to make payments. These issues are taken into consideration and repayment plans are created that adhere to present circumstances.

Innovation, attention and flexibility have been a successful formula for Wescot.

Review of the Current Debt Collections Market

WescotThe financial atmosphere has changed considerably over the last decade or so and the evidence can be easily seen through current market data. Prior to 2007, services for debt collections were making strong strides in growth. This was largely due to loose banking procedures combined with unchecked consumer borrowing. Although debt was common during this period, economies were booming which allowed consumers to make payments and banks were extremely willing to allow outsourcing to collection agencies to recoup monies in arrears.

However, the bursting of the financial bubble in late 2007 and the subsequent devastating recession created an unfavourable economic environment that exists till this day and is only slightly improving. The nagging downturn has eroded incomes leaving many customers unable to pay debts. The banking industry has been forced to implement much stricter loan regulations and a large portion of individuals that can obtain loans are using them to cover past debts which continue to stagnate the economy.

Alteration of Debt Collection Procedures

Surprisingly, the market for debt collection services in the UK has remained fairly even since 2007 with statistics from the credit market combined with revenues from major companies revealing that collection agencies still hover in the area of £500 million. Although the value of debt collection cases has remained steady, the means by which debt collection agencies now locate and retrieve those debts has been significantly altered.

Traditionally, debt collection agents have relied on tracing methods that include phone calls, letters and visitations to pursue customer contact and extract due payment. These services were normally carried out on a fee-basis, but the rise in costs for new methods of retrieving debt has pressed agencies to rely heavily on commissions. Because more people are either being forced to frequently move or are choosing to move, collection agencies have had to radically adjust their methods to include more technologically advanced systems including tracing software, the use of email and mobile devices as well as spend more time understanding customer situations once contacts have been made.

Wescot was quick to recognise the economic and industry changes and make relative adjustments. For this reason, the company is considered to be one of the top debt collection performers in the UK and is consistently sought out for its cutting-edge services. Find Wescot location details and see how they can benefit your company with their revised debt collection services.

Wescot Delivers Collections in a Changing Economic Environment

Numerous radical changes have occurred since the economy was stricken by the 2008 financial crisis. Regulations have significantly altered compliance with UK consumers that have, on average, seen a decline in their disposable incomes. Such changes have created a challenge for DCAs and creditors assigned the task of retrieving debts in arrears and the need to make innovative adjustments in order to boost faltering attempts based on past methods.

WescotWhen the mortgage bubble burst in 2008, unsecured portfolio holders saw their settlement rates plunge across the board, save for a few examples. One example was Wescot, which made rapid adjustments to their contact and compliance procedures. The company’s fast thinking and innovative problem-solving efforts have paid off by showing marked improvements in recovery activity, running from benchmark figures in 2006 to performance figures gleaned at the end of 2013.

So, what are the driving factors that are leading to extremely high collection rates even though the economy continues to struggle? Of course, banks have been forced to radically improve their lending procedures which have played a key role. However, debt collection improvements are also a large part of the successful formula.

Performance Rises as 3-Month Break-ins Decline

Figures have revealed a steady trend in the debt collections environment in the past several years, despite other economic fluctuations. Within a 12 month period concluding at the end of 2013, Wescot found that a decline occurred in their break-in collections delivery with a slight recovery experienced in the final 6-month period.

However, while 3-month break-ins were in decline, figures also showed that collection performance improvements after stock payouts increased by nearly 20%. The entire scenario averaged out to more than a 15% increase in overall collections performance for the year.

The reasons for the decline in debt collection break-ins lie in short-term adjustments that eventually lead to long-term stability.

Contact Rates – The number of contacts made directly relate to collection delivery success. With constant changes and errors being made, data has to be constantly cleansed in order to make more contacts, properly tailor communications towards the customer and deliver those messages through the best means of communication.

Contact Conversion – In order to boost repayment conversion rates, steps need to be taken to tailor plans according to their circumstances. As this effort is made and accommodating options are supplied, customers tend to fulfil their agreements. However, more man-hours are required to speak with customers longer. Again, the initial investment is costly, but it produces long-term benefits for all involved.

Wescot has heavily invested in the fields of technology and data analysis resulting in debt delivery success. The company’s innovative approach to debt collection has made it an industry leader that big financial names recognise. See Experian signs deal with Wescot for a good example.

Mis-Tracing Problems and Solutions

WescotA significant increase in mis-traced customer data has led the collections industry trade assoication, Credit Service Association, to crack down on faulty methods of tracing such data and to provide solutions for improvement. The upsurge in data problems is partially due to the banking crisis that has seen extensive restructuring of practices in mortgage lending which has directly led to more people either living with relatives or seeking rentals. These ‘hidden’ customers can be extremely difficult to identify in order to verify faulty data or address collection processes. Relying on old tracing methods has led to growing numbers of mis-tracing incidents.

Repetitive Capturing of Lead Data by CRAs

Credit reference agencies (CRAs) have had the habit of correcting erroneous data without informing other CRAs of the updates. The problem with the antiquated system is that all those working at CRAs, as well as those relying on their records, can find it extremely difficult to recognise what data is current and what remains errant and thus data updates are often repeated.

Solution: CRAs have suggested creating a helpline between their offices that allows mis-traced data alerts to be shared and then corrected by all involved. This procedure of unified data correction will significantly reduce repeated mis-trace investigations and the subsequent confusion.

Non-verification of New Data

Yet another problem lies in organisations that load new addresses into their systems without utilising any form of verification process. This new data is often assumed to be correct, enters the main company account system and is then spread to multiple other sources. However, the addresses are quite often incorrect and can end up as a verified address change on the files of consumers.

Solution: Adherence to Credit Service Association (CSA) guidelines is being stressed which instructs those reporting address changes to do so only after acceptable steps have been taken to validate the data at their level.

Wescot is a leader in the debt collection industry and has arrived at that status because it adheres to strict regulations. This close attention to detail allows Wescot to be extremely successful at recovering debts that are held as outstanding. Wescot contact information will get you started on the road to debt recovery.

Wescot: Leading the Way for Compliance Standards

As the largest debt recovery service in the UK, Wescot leads the way across many areas of the market and most especially in compliance. Compliance is at the forefront of every Wescot procedure and in the current changing regulatory environment Wescot has not only developed unsurpassed compliance standards, but also helped in many cases to shape the new and stringent regulations. The high compliance standards at Wescot have been officially recognised both by Trading Standards and by the Lending Standards Board. wescotThe Wescot operations team is comprised of a large number of highly skilled individuals with strong backgrounds in both compliance and negotiation, helping bring each account to an achievable conclusion.

Compliance is built into every system and process at Wescot to ensure that all of the relevant regulations and guidelines are adhered to, that clients are protected and that each customer is treated fairly and provided with the appropriate solution to their debt. Each individual who works for Wescot and deals with the public is subject to strict and regular structured audits, and provided with continual training. Wescot requires all individuals working in areas where customer contact occurs to undergo an annual compliance test in order to ensure continues understanding and practice. As well as focusing on customer-centric solutions to debt, Wescot also actively promotes the free advice sector in order to provide customers with even more information regarding the best way to handle debt. Click here to find out more about Wescot or visit the website for information about where to go for free advice in debt issues.

As a company which actively engages with and listens to the needs of customers, Wescot has in place a stringent complaints procedure. With a mission to deliver a first-class service each and every time, Wescot takes complaints seriously and uses these as opportunities to improve upon future service wherever possible. The aim at Wescot is to reach problem resolution within a period of no more than eight weeks from receiving the initial complaint, with all account activity being suspended until resolution occurs. In only the most exceptional circumstances will the process take longer, in which case Wescot will inform the customer in writing with a date for resolution. Compliance not complaints is the Wescot ethos.

Wescot: Treating Customers Fairly

wescotTreating customers fairly (TCF) is a large part of the changes being made in the financial services industry as changes to the regulatory environment bring all institutions under one single governing body. In the wake of the banking crisis, a new and more customer-centric business model is emerging, with focus on increasing customer confidence in order to assist the recovery of the UK economy post-recession. Consumer confidence in financial institutions has noticeably dropped in recent years as households cope with the changes to their own personal financial circumstances with prudence and forethought. The average family discretionary income has risen by only £11 per week over a five year period, a far lower percentage rise than that of wage growth or interest rates. As a direct result of this consumers are reacting by decreasing their spending rather than increasing their borrowing.

The £11 per week rise in discretionary income per household equates to just 8% over five years. In terms of the mortgage market, a rise of just 25bps in the standard variable rate would immediately wipe out that 8% and a rise of more would equate to the average disposable income actually dropping to below March 2008 levels by a significant degree. Little wonder, then, that consumer confidence is at a low ebb. The backbone of any flourishing economy is the confidence of the individual members of society to consume. In a bid to increase consumer confidence financial institutions at every level are rapidly altering strategies, creating a far more compassionate banking world with focus on treating customers fairly.

The consolidation of all regulation of consumer lending and debt recovery into one single body has helped to drive real change, protecting the needs of consumers and over time increasing buying confidence. As the largest debt collection agencies operating within the UK today, Wescot is one company at the forefront of the changes. Wescot is not only proud to operate with compliance standards which are unsurpassed within the financial services industry but has in many cases helped to shape the changes in regulation. Consumers today find Wescot focusing primarily on reaching solutions which are beneficial to all parties involved and which treat customers fairly, taking into account personal circumstances and creating affordable and reasonable repayment plans which enable each customer to begin to get out of debt faster.

Wescot knows technology ought to be combined with communication skills to deliver best outcomes

For those individuals or organisations looking to outsource debt collection work, it is worth taking time to work out a list of priorities of what they want from a service provider. Value for money is likely to be top of the list (especially for those businesses that are still recovering from the effects of the economic downturn). Another item that ought to be high in any list of priorities is fair treatment of customers.

Those organisations unfamiliar with the workings of the debt collections niche may assume that fair treatment of customers is more to do with pure ethics and bears little or no relationship to achieving successful outcomes. In fact, as the leading UK debt collection agency Wescot demonstrates, fair treatment of customers tends to result in outcomes from which all parties benefit. This particular company has been at the forefront of best practice and has a proven track record when it comes to setting an example to other operators within this niche.

wescotUse of technological solutions has an important part to play in this particular sector, as Wescot is well aware. Many companies use ‘smart data’ tools in which databases are cross-referenced as a method of tracing customer with whom organisations have lost contact. These can be useful but they can also have their limitations. One issue is that the majority of operators in this field use similar types of credit reference agency lead-generation data tools. The same information and data sources tend to be accessed on multiple occasions. If part of that information happens to be incorrect, multiple mis-traces can happen. It can be all too easy to assume the data is valid when in fact it is not. One of the unfortunate consequences of this can be that third parties are contacted in error on multiple occasions by multiple organisations.

Wescot knows that technology, when used in isolation or when put to use by inexperienced staff can have its limitations. When it comes to tracing customers, the company uses effective validation technologies coupled with experienced staff. Once a likely trace has been established, the company also recognises the value of re-establishing meaningful contact with that customer. This provides the opportunity for outstanding issues between organisations and their customers to be resolved in a manner that is appropriate to the circumstances of the customer.

Wescot knows the potential value of combining effective tracing methods with actual customer contact

wescotSome organisations may be tempted to look for a ‘quick fix’ approach to tracing customers with whom they have lost contact. This is especially the case in the current economic climate where companies are keen to keep overheads to a minimum as they recover from the deepest recession for decades. A trend over recent years has been the development of ‘data cleansing’ solutions. These are often referred to as ‘light touch’ indicators of where an individual customer may currently be living. This approach is often coupled with treating all or the majority of gone-away debt scenarios as ‘trace and collect’. This type of approach might be appropriate in many situations. As Wescot is aware however, businesses may be missing out on valuable opportunities if they rely solely on this type of method. An organisation may find there are considerable advantages to making actual and meaningful contact once customers have been traced.

Rather than taking formal action against the customer once he or she has been re-located, there is a lot to be said for making contact and attempting to resolve the outstanding issue in a sensible way. Responsibility for regulation of the consumer credit niche has now been transferred from the Office of Fair Trading to the Financial Conduct Authority. One of the implications of this is that there is a much greater emphasis on delivering outcomes appropriate to the customer as an individual. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer acceptable. Rather, companies need to have procedures in place that take into account the personal circumstances of the individual. There is certainly room for high-tech solutions in the tracing and debt collection (especially when it comes to data validation, appropriate data handling and avoiding the type of situation where third parties are repeatedly contacted in error). At the same time however, organisations should also seek out those agencies who appreciate the value of engaging with customers in an effective way.

There is also an important reputational element to this. It is no longer acceptable for organisations to decide on a certain course of action merely because letters and telephones have gone unanswered. Organisations that engage in inappropriate behaviour risk serious damage to their brand image. Wescot is a natural choice as the provider of trace and debt collection solutions for organisations looking for a company with a proven track record in both data validation and treating customers fairly.

Wescot embraces ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ in all its activities

Organisations choose to outsource their debt collections activities for a number of different reasons. First and foremost, many realise they do not have the resources or the time to deal effectively with debt collection work in-house. Under such situations, referring the work to a professional makes perfect sense. When choosing a partner to work with, cost effectiveness is generally at or near the top of an organisation’s list of priorities (especially at a time when many businesses are still in a state of recovery following the deepest and most prolonged economic downturn in decades). At the same time, it is important to pay close attention to a potential partner’s attitude to compliance. In particular, organisations should look closely at whether a debt collection agency is committed to treating customers fairly.

Most companies will claim in their promotional material to be committed to compliance. For anyone choosing a debt collection agency to work with, it is worth looking closely at such claims to check whether there is any substance to them. Wescot is a company worthy of particular consideration. This leading UK debt collection agency believes strongly in the importance of treating customers fairly. The company says such an approach is vital for achieving appropriate outcomes for individual customers.

The approach also brings considerable benefits to the organisations it works for. By engaging customers in a meaningful way, it makes it more likely that appropriate solutions wescotcan be worked out. It means, for instance, that agents and customers are able to come up with repayment plans that are achievable in light of the customer’s individual circumstances. This is far preferable to imposing a plan on a customer with little or no thought as to whether that customer is going to be able to stick to it. The approach adopted by Wescot makes it much more likely that the arrears will be recovered. It also increases the likelihood that the relationship between the customer and the business in question can be rehabilitated.

There is plenty of evidence to indicate Wescot takes ‘treating customers fairly’ seriously rather than paying mere lip service to the principle. The company carries out regular audits and is dedicated to regular monitoring. The company also recognises how important it is for customers to have access to free independent debt advice and is an active supporter of a number of charities in this field.

Wescot demonstrates taking compliance seriously makes good business sense

A trend of recent years is that some of the standards and general practices prevalent within the consumer credit industry have been brought into sharp focus. Organisations need to take the issue of compliance seriously. They also need to be careful with their choice of partner in those circumstances where debt collections and tracing services are outsourced. It is natural for businesses to seek cost-effective solutions (especially at a time when many organisations are still recovering from the effects of the economic downturn). Equally as important however, it is worth finding out more about the proposed wescotagency’s attitude to compliance. One useful piece of advice is to identify those companies that have the processes in place to ensure the whole business operates in accordance with the spirit of the regulations – rather than attempting to do the bare minimum to stick to the rules.

Wescot is a very good example of a company that has compliance at the heart of its business. This commitment to treating customers fairly has advantages not just for those individual customers, but also for the organisations it works with. By treating customers with professionalism and fairness, there is a greater chance of coming up with solutions that are acceptable to businesses and realistically achievable by individuals.

Wescot has always rejected the type of practices that in the past have given debt collection agencies (and by association, the organisations they carry out work on behalf of) a bad name. Such behaviour included overly aggressive correspondence, constant non-productive phone calls and visits in person conducted in an inappropriate manner. Now more than ever, such behaviour is likely to result in an agency and/or the organisation it is working for being publically admonished by the authorities. The business model adopted by Wescot and its attitude to compliance provides a useful benchmark to other organisations involved in debt collections work. The industry-wide guidelines that are now in place are designed to ensure customers are treated fairly. In practice, this means all operators in the field should aim to conduct themselves in the same manner as this company.

Organisations also need to be increasingly aware of their wider brand image and of how easy it can become tarnished. For a customer who believes he or she has been treated unfairly when it comes to resolving an arrears issue, it has never been easier for that customer to share his or her experiences publically.