At Bristow & Sutor, our response to COVID-19 has been agile and flexible, but we have not made sweeping changes to the way we work. Like many successful companies, we are proud of the way we operate. Drastic change is unnecessary if you are already doing things right to start with. Business as usual, wherever possible, is often the best response to any critical scenario.
With a sensitive and pragmatic attitude applied, there is no reason why debt recovery responses cannot continue to succeed currently. As a business, we have always supported the vulnerable and considered the unique circumstances of every debtor. It is more important than ever that we continue to act in this way, as the reality of the situation is there could many more vulnerable cases and financial hardship to come, if redundancies are made once furlough is over.
Of course, adaptability is essential as no enforcement agent could or should be permitted to attend a property during lockdown. But it is important to remember that the key to resolving an outstanding debt is and always has been, good communication. With care and consideration this can still be achieved successfully, even at a time when visits are not possible.
Our decision to adapt to the ongoing pandemic, whilst maintaining our usual principals for success, saw a massive mobilisation exercise to help staff work from home and roll out a new contact centre. Thanks to our ongoing investment in innovative technology systems and software development, we were prepared to remain operational and contactable with minimal disruption to customer service. Portals, apps, emails, telephone lines and debt recovery tools are all still entirely accessible for debtors.
Another key theme is preparedness. That is why it is business as usual for us internally as well as externally. All of our furloughed enforcement agent staff continue to receive training and certification, so they will be ready to work again as soon as it is safe and appropriate for them to do so. Some local authorities may feel it is better to put all cases on hold currently but deviating from business as usual will create an avoidable backlog at a time when income is vital to funding essential local services. COVID-19 is, in some ways, no different to the last recession or indeed individuals facing financial hardship at any time. Success remains achievable when adopting the same sensitivity that recovery cases should always be handled with.
As an example, on behalf of Derby City Council we have had 2 spurious complaints and 111 cases are in arrangement, which is 10% of all live PCN cases. Our overall income since lockdown equates to £18,445 verses income of £53,875 during the same period last year (34.2%) with minimal new cases thus far, zero visits and zero complaints.
Bristow & Sutor remains committed as ever to our service approach of Cool, Calm and Collected.