Communications Solution Delivers ROI of 29:1
Absa Bank, one of Africa’s largest financial groups, has transformed its collections operations in just three months by deploying FICO® Customer Communication Services (CCS).
The number of self-paying customers nearly doubled, from 23 percent to 43 percent, and immediately reduced impairment charges, resulting in a three-month ROI of 29:1. As COVID-19 hit Africa, the FICO solution enabled Absa to roll out payment relief initiatives and communicate with distressed customers, meeting its vision of ‘Housing the Nation’.
You can read more about this story in the full media release.
“One of the solutions we chose is the FICO Customer Communications Services, which our Home Loans portfolio implemented first," said Sibulelo Ncamani, a change lead in the Collections Transformation Programme at Absa. "We sought to achieve a digital, omni-channel capability that will enable 24/7 access to our distressed customers to assist in their time of need. This capability was a crucial component to the Absa Home Loans business vision of ‘Housing the Nation’ and more specifically for Home Loans collections and recoveries.”
Improving Communications in Collections
Communications is the key to effective collections, and Absa needed to break down siloed communication channels, create profile-specific communication strategies, and execute real-time processes. Automation was important, as was learning from response and interaction data to see what worked and which channels customers preferred.
FICO® Customer Communication Services (CCS), integrated with FICO collections solutions, enabled Absa to set up different treatment strategies for customers at different risk levels and who had different reasons for being in arrears, including:
- Technical arrears such as delayed inter-bank payments.
- Salary dates that had moved.
- Customers who simply forgot to pay and require a nudge or reminder for payment.
- More severe types of distress such as reduced working hours or even unemployment.
Using FICO CCS’s omnichannel capability, Absa sent customers different combinations of static messages, interactive messages and interactive voice recordings, thereby allowing customers to self-pay before being worked by an agent. Customers could also make a payment arrangement without having to talk to an agent.
“We saw fantastic results from our initial trial,” said Ncamani. “Removing accounts from the dialler resulted in a 26 percent reduction in call center effort, without a reduction in customers’ payment performance. By automating more work, we also saw our team’s morale improve, as more meaningful work was provided to agents.”
Meeting the COVID-19 Challenge
When South Africa went into hard lockdown at the end of March 2020, it placed a severe constraint on the collection team’s operational capacity, at a time of unprecedented distress for customers. “More of our customers than ever were in danger of losing their homes due to non-payment,” said Ncamani. “Again, FICO CCS was able to accommodate Absa Home Loans. By increasing our capacity through automation, we were able to focus on severely distressed customers and roll our payment relief initiatives as part of our COVID-19 response. FICO CCS also acted as a channel of engagement for distressed customers looking for assistance on managing their bond repayments. FICO CCS enabled us to do ‘business as usual’ collections in a period that was anything but usual.”
For its achievements, Absa Bank has won a 2021 FICO® Decisions Award for debt collection.
Absa Bank kept more customers in their homes during an unprecedented period of anxiety and financial stress. That is an achievement that goes beyond profit margins — the bank is truly a force for social good. We at FICO are honored that our technology could play a part.
“ABSA understands the sensitivity of the collection process and the importance of reaching a customer as quickly as possible,” said Tiffani Montez, banking analyst at Aite and one of the FICO Decisions Awards judges. “They were able to take a manual collections process and automate customer outreach with a high-touch, flexible communication model. In addition, they were able to reduce reliance on having an agent take payment by giving the customer the ability to review options and make payment.”