Ethical collections – caring for customers

As a global business, Intrum understands the impact our work has on people and society. For us, ethical collections practices are essential, helping our clients, their customers and our people thrive.

Ethical debt collection is at the heart of Intrum’s business. People can only operate fully in society when they are free from worry and strain of problem debt. Dealing sensitively, promptly and ethically with consumers accelerates their financial rehabilitation as well as helping businesses survive and prosper.

Treating Customers Fairly

When it comes to customer service, Intrum operates under ten general principles of Treating Customers Fairly. While in some countries these kind of behaviours are enshrined in legislation, at Intrum we are striving to deliver best practice across all of our locations.

Investing in training, processes and systems to ensure customers are treated fairly is always worthwhile. As well as helping individuals in debt, it motivates our employees. They know they are contributing, not only to the consumers and their well-being but also to the business and the wider economy.
Gavin Flynn

For Flynn, training is the keystone of Treating Customers Fairly – customer service representatives are given time in the classroom to learn how to conduct conversations with people in debt and deal with any issues that may arise.

Emotional intelligence

Head of Global Learning Ed Bonnaire was previously responsible for training call centre teams at Intrum UK. He explains that, before they conduct any calls, people working in the call centres are taught about emotional intelligence, the barriers to communication and the power of tone of voice as part of in-depth training.

The danger when you are making so many calls on a daily basis is that you go into autopilot and stop actively listening to what the customer is saying. We train our team to listen intently and use empathy and rapport to ensure a positive experience.
Ed Bonnaire

The credit management industry is not necessarily well understood by consumers and Bonnaire knows some may have fears about how they will be treated. This can even lead to them offering repayments they cannot afford. Using affordability checks is essential to ensure their payment plan is realistic and sustainable.

In the UK, for example, those who are: unemployed; have priority debt arrears (such as government, housing and utility debts); are vague about their finances; or have a deficit in their monthly disposable income will be given a period of time without collections activity so they can take advice from a free and independent organisation about what they should do.

Continuous improvement

There are always ways to enhance and improve customer experience and, across Intrum, a range of tools assist in this endeavour. Customer surveys provide important intelligence about practices, and the move to real-time surveys of consumer experience is a powerful development as it allows teams to check customers are satisfied immediately.

Employees are also a source of knowledge and ideas, something Flynn says is used to great effect. They are often best placed to suggest innovation and are passionate about the ideas adopted as a result.

“The initiatives we undertake and the processes we put in place to help consumers and ensure they are treated fairly may seem onerous, but there is no doubt in my mind that this is the best way to do business,” says Ian Davies, Commercial / Sales Director Market UK & Ireland.

“Our clients are relying on us to take care of their customers, many of whom are facing difficult and stressful financial situations. We know they value the time and care we take in our approach – putting in place payment plans that last for the long term.”

“I find my health problems and financial state extremely difficult. This company understands that life and situations are different and difficult. So many other companies could learn from you.”

UK Banking customer, November 2021