Some 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.