This guide provides a comprehensive overview of how debt collection organizations can better understand and support vulnerable customers. It includes 21 questions and 21 steps to help organizations identify and handle customer disclosures related to vulnerability, as well as support both customers and staff in vulnerable situations.
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- Conventional guidance on ending conversations with customers emphasizes the importance of a summary, confirmation, and invitation.
- The response of the industry to the study was positive, resulting in 1573 frontline and specialist debt collection staff in the UK undertaking an online survey.
- Positive attitudes and practices were found among staff towards customers with mental health problems.
- Six firms participated in both the 2016 and 2010 surveys, indicating marked and positive improvements in disclosure management, attitudes, and practices.
- The aggregated results were analyzed and presented to participating organizations, frontline staff, industry experts, and other stakeholders at a series of problem-solving workshops.
- In addition to this guide, each firm in the study was provided with a bespoke report presenting the findings for that organization.
- The guide also draws on three other sources of information: the experience of the authors in delivering a program of training and organizational change on vulnerability, data from the 2010 study on mental health and collections, and data from a 2016 survey of people with mental health problems conducted by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.
Key Take Aways
- Debt collection organizations should prioritize understanding and supporting vulnerable customers.
- Positive attitudes and practices towards customers with mental health problems are important.
- Disclosure management, attitudes, and practices can be improved over time.
- Problem-solving workshops can be an effective way to analyze and present survey results.
- Bespoke reports can provide organizations with tailored findings.
- Multiple sources of information can be used to inform a comprehensive guide.
- Debt collection staff should be trained to identify and handle customer disclosures related to vulnerability.
- Organizations should have clear policies and procedures in place for working with vulnerable customers.
- Staff should be empowered to make decisions that are in the best interest of the customer.
- Organizations should consider the impact of their actions on vulnerable customers and take steps to minimize harm.
- Collaboration with other organizations and stakeholders can help to improve outcomes for vulnerable customers.
- Regular monitoring and evaluation can help organizations to identify areas for improvement and track progress over time.
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