dlc boosts collections performance and drives down costs with Sopra Banking Lending
Tight controls, and the ability to experiment confidently and report results in great detail, have made the debt collection agency more competitive and cost-efficient.
Sopra Banking Software, a world leader in banking software, solutions and services, has announced that dlc, one of the largest privately-owned debt collection agencies in the UK, is delivering profitable growth because of its ability to target accounts precisely and prioritise collections based on their risk profile. This is thanks to its extensive use of ICS, Sopra Banking’s comprehensive collections suite.
dlc collects overdue money across a range of different sectors and buys debt relating to financial products such as loans and credit cards from banks and other lenders. The business, based in Brackley, Northamptonshire, employs 400 people. It has been using the Sopra Banking solution since 2010, when dlc replaced a legacy collections system that would find it difficult to meet the extensive demands of the business.
The Sopra Banking system runs off a Microsoft SQL Server database. “This is very efficient and easy to manoeuvre,” explains Geoff Fensom, ICS system manager at dlc. “Our old system was very rigid. We had lots of workarounds in place to meet requirements. Sopra Banking ICS is a very robust system which gives us all the controls we were looking for and the ability to manipulate these ourselves.”
The system is also highly scalable, which fit well with dlc’s growth plans. Of the 400 staff at dlc, around 250 are collection agents, yet the Sopra Banking ICS suite is used by virtually every employee. “Almost everyone makes use of the ICS Suite,” says David Morton, the agency’s senior operations manager. This is because the system provides clear insight into the business’s activities and performance, allowing campaigns to be adjusted and refined as their impact becomes visible.
High levels of automation are helping the business to achieve more with less. “We are making more money than we were five years ago,” he continues. “The Sopra Banking ICS software has definitely helped drive up the sophistication of our core function – i.e. collecting money. We are able to manage our costs much better, and reduce uncoordinated, ‘off-plan’ activity. We’ve seen at least a 10% reduction in the costs associated with sending out letters. Also, our customer service levels have risen because individuals are receiving helpful, timely reminders rather than being hounded.”
dlc is also benefitting from Sopra Banking ICS’s advanced reporting capabilities. “We can process information in a fraction of the man-hours needed previously, as we can now move the data around a lot more easily,” Fensom notes. “Although the size of our database has doubled in the last three years – to over 3 million accounts – we haven’t had to employ any more people to look after it.”
Client organisations are impressed too. “Now, if we see the onset of a performance dip, we can pick up on it immediately, interrogate the system to find out why and quickly address the issue. As a result, we have improved our performance consistency and are regularly at the top of debt collection league tables.”
The ‘Champion Challenger’ component of the software meanwhile lets dlc play around with alternative approaches to collections with full confidence that existing performance won’t deteriorate. “We can try out a new idea on 10% of customers with full control and the ability to analyse the results. We have already seen noticeable improvements as a result,” Morton notes.
Since upgrading its Sopra Banking ICS system recently, dlc is now able to annotate individual accounts with customers’ contact preferences, giving dlc scope to phase out physical letters in favour of emails where possible, further reducing its costs. “Our ambition is to have a risk-based strategy for collecting money,” Morton concludes. “Once we can combine external credit bureau information with our knowledge of the value of accounts, and the best time and method to use to get the best results, we will be highly competitive. Sopra Banking will help us achieve this.
“We also want customers to be able to almost serve themselves via our web site and, again, the Sopra Banking solution enables this.”