Our customer centric approach to debt recovery

BW Legal were recently mentioned in the July edition of CCRMagazine.com on the topic of ethical debt recovery practices in the private parking sector. The Litigation Manager (Client and Strategy) for BW Legal, Rohan Krishnarao, has looked into this area in more detail.

The recovery of private parking charges, in general, is such a contentious topic for a multitude of reasons, primarily due to the public perception of certain operators and debt collection practices in the industry who adopt highly aggressive tactics that potentially fall foul of the enshrined copy of Treating Customers Fairly.

As a dual regulated business, ensuring that our debt recovery model and processes are compliant with both the SRA and the FCA guidelines is fundamental to our business operations. It is easy to assume that as parking charges are not “regulated”, we do not have to follow the guidelines set by the FCA in terms of treating customers fairly. Strictly speaking this may be true, however, the reason why we are so successful in this industry, is due to the fact that we recognise the importance and the need to engage with customers, fully understand their circumstances, rehabilitate and work with them to ensure a fair outcome for both our clients and their customers.

When it comes to tackling vulnerability, we have a heightened focus on training our front line and specialist staff to use tools for:

  1. Handling disclosures not only of mental health problems, but a wide range of vulnerable situations.
  2. Effectively responding to customer disclosures of suicidal thoughts or intentions, and to involve internal specialists and external agencies where needed.
  3. Proactively identifying and supporting customers who might be at risk of vulnerability and disadvantage due to difficulties with understanding and decision-making.
  4. Working to find the right solution for any customers who may be experiencing financial hardship.

Whilst training staff is one very important aspect of how we approach vulnerability, without a sophisticated IT system, it is easy to miss opportunities to identify vulnerable customers when dealing with thousands of business instructions. As a result, all our processes have conditional checks to identify and separate vulnerable customers from our mainstream debt recovery strategy. These checks are carried out at each stage of the recovery process and once we have identified a vulnerable customer, we have a dedicated Customer Care Team who work with the customer to ensure a fair outcome.

The individuals we are instructed to pursue are human beings at the end of the day, and whilst we will always act in our clients’ best interests, it is by treating individuals with respect which ultimately allows customers to interact with us and find mutually beneficial solutions that leads to matters being resolved swiftly and amicably.

We’re pleased that our peers have recognised our ethical practices and the full link to the article, from the CCR magazine, is http://www.ccrmagazine.com/parking-operator-says-ethical-debt-recovery-is-vital-for-effective-enforcement-and-encouraging-behavioural-change/

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