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Your Collections Message — If It’s Long, It’s Wrong

Let’s say you’ve sent a customer who is behind on their payments one or two reminders and have gotten no response. It seems the customer just isn’t getting the message. If the debt’s been charged off, this situation becomes more prolonged, expensive and serious. Whether it’s a collection or recovery effort, the fact remains: You’re being ignored.

So what do you do? Talk louder? Communicate more frequently? Use more channels?

Any seasoned collector will tell you this doesn’t always work. In addition, regulators such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are looking to identify any collection efforts that don’t fall within regulatory guidelines.

Despite the fact that people are more likely to read and respond to short messages, regulations and the need to clearly state the case to overdue borrowers means that messages are getting longer — often much longer.

One organization taking a different approach is Lloyds Bank. In a presentation at FICO World 2014, FICO’s Jonathan Annis coined the phrase, “If it’s long, it’s wrong” in discussing how Lloyds is improving its collections communications.

Lloyd’s follows five Performance Pillars:

  • Put customers at the heart of the business
  • Aim to be a great company to work for
  • Invest in communities to help them prospect and grow
  • Work to continually reduce environmental impacts
  • Work responsibly with external stakeholders
“These five pillars are integral to our strategy to be the best bank for our customers,” said David Morpeth, operations director for Lloyds Bank Asset Finance.

How does this focus on the customer lead to “If it’s long, it’s wrong”?

“Because Lloyds is very focused on the Ethic of Care, putting the customer first, by the time a collection effort is required, the message can be short and to the point,” Morpeth said. “We’re not writing a letter, we’re keeping it simple and to the point.”

Duplicate information is removed from scripts, as well as obvious statements such as “This is a call…” or “This is an automated service…”  Because customers already have a good relationship with the bank and the FICO® Risk Intervention Manager automated technology supports strong compliance, Lloyds’ collection efforts have experienced a noticeable lift.

Lloyds keeps customers satisfied with the relationship and consumers are responding accordingly. To see Lloyds’ presentation slides, go http://subscribe.fico.com/how-lloyds-bank-improved-its-collection-communications.

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