PayPlan won Debt Advice Provider of the Year at the Credit Awards, sponsored by Lowell, in May. Amber-Ainsley Pritchard explains how they improved client engagement and outcomes through digitalisation.
As well as rewarding innovation and recognising the achievements of firms, from all sectors and of all sizes, within credit, it’s right that Credit Strategy should explain why the winning teams are successful at the Credit Awards.
The flagship event has been running for 19 years and once again took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, in London, on May 17.
The 2018 independent judging panel voted for the Debt Advice Provider of the Year Award to be given to PayPlan, an organisation with more than 20 years’ experience in the sector.
Judges were looking to award an organisation that demonstrated commitment to provide qualitative, comprehensive and transparent debt advice.
Judges said that PayPlan’s entry overshadowed all others. They said this was down to the digital transformation of the organisation’s debt advice journey and the impressive approach it has to sharing best practice with other agencies.
Its entry explained how its new end-to-end digital debt advice journey and referral partnerships initiative improved client engagement.
PayPlan found 68 percent of its clients would prefer to use digital channels rather than talk over the phone about the taboo that is debt. Therefore, the provider created and developed digital platforms and channels to help its clients feel more comfortable talking about an issue they sometimes feel ashamed of.
21st century debt advice
The first initiative created was an end-to-end digital debt advice journey. This included an online income and expenditure tool called PlanFinder which uses email and credit reference agency data to assess a client’s circumstances and affordability.
This digital tool delivers a quicker speed in advice to outcome, enabling same day solutions, and has improved customer engagement by 30 percent.
PayPlan explained how 75 percent of people who start PlanFinder complete it: “Normally this takes 18 minutes, compared to a telephone process which can take up to 90 minutes. Having this digital option available has increased engagement with PayPlan’s debt advice process by 30 percent.”
After completing PlanFinder, clients receive debt advice by email, live chat or phone, and get access to an app, PayPlanPlus, to complete their digital journey. Using the app, clients can electronically sign a letter of authority, upload documentation, make payments, manage direct debits, message advisers and monitor plan performance.
55,000 users log into PayPlanPlus every month and 70 percent of people in plans now use it to complete their annual review.
The second initiative created was in the form of a digital referral partnerships strategy. PayPlan built three new channels for creditors, including web referral forms, co-branded SMS and email campaigns, and bespoke landing pages with unique tracked website links.
These partnerships have transformed the way consumers can access debt advice through their creditors and by using these methods creditors have engaged up to 10 times more consumers in debt advice than would have been achieved by traditional methods.
Each digital referral partnership launched with creditors involves a bespoke agent training session to ensure they can identify the triggers for spotting problem debt and the practical application of making a debt advice referral.
By working closely in-house with creditors and listening to calls, PayPlan developed training and mentoring packages, tailored to the needs of the creditor and their customers.
As part of this training PayPlan has implemented vulnerability best practice, in the form of the University of Bristol’s ‘Guide for debt collection: 21 questions, 21 steps’.
The organisation has also shared the policies, procedures and training, it has implemented with other advice organisations and creditors to ensure the industry is continuously improving the wellbeing of customers with problem debt.
Most recently the organisation has worked with Nationwide Building Society to implement this digital referral partnerships strategy.
Gareth McNab, Money Advice Liaison Manager at Nationwide Building Society, said: “Implementing PayPlan’s web referral form, digital tools and staff training meant our members in our pilot were six times more likely to engage with debt advice. We’re now also able to engage branch customers in the pilot with free debt advice via a digital channel.”