Home Finance Getting a grip on Bad Debt: Practical steps to help utilities boost their Debt Collections 

Getting a grip on Bad Debt: Practical steps to help utilities boost their Debt Collections 

by Rajdeep Basu
Debt Collections

Statistics emphasise that vulnerable customers are choosing between heating and eating.  Research published by the Economic Research Council (UK) in March 2022 identifies a 26% increase in the number of vulnerable customers with the cost of living crisis the overwhelming cause of this increase.

The current crisis continues to create a new set of vulnerable customers who have never been in this position before and do not know where to turn.  Not everybody realises that help is available, or perhaps are too embarrassed to ask for help, and so are at risk of making the wrong decision.  We can and should be identifying and contacting these consumers proactively and not waiting for them to ask or fail.  It is completely possible today through smart analytics of data to identify consumers who are at risk and reach out to them to offer support and appropriate coping solutions.

It is important to realise that not every customer is the same and categorisation as vulnerable doesn’t necessarily mean financial issues. Being able to identify different customers and their own specific needs is possible with the data and tools which are available today.  

At TechM, our Next-Gen Intelligent Digital Debt Collection Platform – IntraCollect – powered by Qualco, can replace obsolete debt tools, and accelerate digital collections for utilities and pre-empt debt collection. Qualco’ Data-Driven Decisions Engine (D3E) can quickly build explainable and authoritative models, predicting customer behaviour. D3E’s advanced modelling capabilities coupled with TechM’s sound experience and expertise of soft debt collections provides debt collection services that are uilt around six key drivers – People, Process, Digital Automation, Analytics and Compliance.

In our experience in working with global utilities, quite often when we start investigating the reasons for low collection rates, few fundamental issues prop up regularly – e.g. poor data collection methods, over reliance on traditional contact channels and lack of understanding around different customer personas early in the collections cycle. 

Many utilities focus on chasing debt at later stages. However, if we have wrong customer data (often due to administrative errors) then debt collection is destined for failure. Therefore, it is imperative that we have the correct customer data (key info) captured, input into systems correctly and checked for accuracy. 

By capturing the data early and accurately in the debt collections process, we can create customer risk profiles and then keep them updating throughout their lifecycle with the utility. This helps to create the right approach and offer the customers appropriate access to payment methods and information when they need it. 

Given below are some of our recommendations that can be undertaken at each stage of the debt collection lifecycle to enhance overall effectiveness of utility’s debt collection process –

TechM’s Debt Collection Offerings aligned with Utilities’ Collection Process 

TechM is well equipped with its utilities knowledge, management solutions and Qualco-led technology platforms to provide specialized debt collection solutions to the water, electricity, and gas providers. We jointly promise to deliver outcomes aligned to regulatory requirements, with – 

We have designed our Debt Collection service offerings by taking into account a utility company’s need for timely collection as well as an end customer’s requirement of a fair collections process at every stage of their customer journey. Our Debt Collection model has 5 key parts –

It is a fundamental requirement that our advisors have empathy and a natural affinity for helping customers but by giving them tools which help them have the right conversation is as important. Our executives undergo rigorous pre-process, process and on the job training to understand customer sensitive circumstances during interaction. Our ‘soft debt collections’ approach which is compliant with major and region-specific regulators is ideal for the Utilities (be it Electric/Water/Gas) all over the world, that can ensure:

Benefits from our recommended Debt Collections offering: 

Our recommended Debt Collection offering can help utility clients drive measurable business outcomes while enabling brand differentiation through improved identification and treatment of vulnerable and high-risk customers. Listed below are some key benefits basis our delivery experience for global utility clients – 

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Author’s Bio –

Rajdeep Basu is a postgraduate in Systems Engineering (MS) and Technology Management (MBA) from The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia; with work experience spanning 20 years in the Energy and Utility industry. Having successfully 

led RPA driven digital transformation projects, business operations in the Meter-to-Cash space, Consulting & Diagnostic Assessment initiatives, and Business Process Transitions. As a Principal Consultant, his key role is traversing in building practice, solution design architect across the Energy and Utility sector, with strong communication and interpersonal skills while successfully managing client/stakeholder expectations

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