Bristow & Sutor use digital technology to foster positive conversations
An ongoing digital transformation project at enforcement firm Bristow & Sutor has seen the recent implementation of new technology that will ensure better accessibility and availability for anyone who needs to resolve an outstanding debt at this time. The business has continually enhanced services throughout the coronavirus pandemic, including the introduction of webchat for debtors, a dedicated WhatsApp channel, text reminders for cases in payment arrangements, more payment methods and the prioritisation of successful contact techniques based on behavioural science and analysis.
Every Bristow & Sutor enforcement agent (EA) conducting physical visits has been trained on the use of PPE and must pass an industry approved course before being allowed to conduct visits. They are not permitted to enter properties, so any resolution found is done so in a socially distanced manner from the doorstep. The business has also recently obtained NQA COVID Secure Verification accreditation, an independent review that provides assurance measures in place successfully mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 per government guidelines.
Paul Lillico, Chief Technical Operator at Bristow & Sutor, says, “Our desire to help debtors have quality conversations in the manner they feel most comfortable with is something we have been working on since well before COVID-19. Actual visits play a vital role in establishing vulnerability and in obtaining payment from those that are wilful nonpayers, but by offering a plethora of digital ways to contact us as well, we are making it easier than ever for anyone to resolve a debt. There is no unwanted intrusion into digital channels, only enhanced availability and a fresh opportunity for customers to make contact.”
This use of data is also helping Bristow & Sutor refine its approach towards supporting the vulnerable, as sophisticated predictive algorithms and monitoring software is being used to identify stress and other communication response indicators that need flagging at an early stage. Bristow & Sutor can now use this feedback to adjust the wording of communications and help make decisions on who to visit and who not to visit. This analysis of communication is not limited to customers and is also helping the business identify any needs its own employees might have, from frustrations to training needs.
Paul continued, “It is important to remember that digital engagement is not one-size-fits-all and these developments have only been made possible thanks to the rich data captured by EAs over time. They often remain the first people to come into contact with a person facing vulnerability when they arrive on the doorstep. Individual preferences dictate that some people like to speak in person, whereas others find chatting via a screen on tools like WhatsApp more comfortable. Since introducing these digital options, we have seen many cases resolved that had historically proved difficult to engage with. We believe it is the right approach to cater for whatever communication preferences people have and remain committed to ensuring all of our channels are effective as they can be.”
Modern technology is also being used to keep Bristow & Sutor secure and allows the business to optimise its visits, including providing suggestions on the best time or day for communications to take place, promoting the most likely window to achieve successful engagement.
Bristow & Sutor is one of the UK’s leading players specialising in debt recovery and has over 42 years’ experience in the collection of local council tax, non-domestic rates and unpaid Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs). The company prides itself on delivering an ethical, compliant and high-quality service to the public and private sectors. Employees are trained to the highest standard and use modern technology and data to achieve market-leading performance, whilst protecting the most vulnerable in society and the reputations of clients.