Digitization of Financial Literacy and Financial Inclusion:  A still relevant best demonstrated practice given the current Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on credit and collection practices.

In 2018, the Credit Awards judges voted for PayPlan to win the Debt Advice Provider of the Year category. The entry, which detailed a crucial partnership with Nationwide Building Society, is included here.  PayPlan, one of the UK’s largest providers of free debt advice, stated in its entry that it’s “passionate about supporting clients and helping them become debt-free, by working closely with partners to make a difference.”

The entry added that 68 percent of PayPlan’s customers prefer to use digital channels rather than a phone, indicating that debt remains a taboo topic that people often feel ashamed to talk about.  To overcome this, PayPlan created a digital assisted self-serve tool called PlanFinder, which uses live-chat, email and credit reference agency data to assess customer’s circumstances and affordability.

Some 75 percent of people who start PlanFinder complete it. Normally this takes 18 minutes, compared to a telephone process which can take up to 90 minutes. Having this digital option available increased engagement with PayPlan’s debt advice process by 30 percent. After completing PlanFinder, clients receive debt advice by email, live-chat or phone, and get access to the PayPlanPlus app to complete their digital journey.

Using PayPlanPlus, clients can also electronically sign a letter of authority, upload documentation, make payments, manage direct debits, message advisers and monitor plan performance.

A total 55,000 users log into PayPlanPlus every month and 70 percent of people in plans now use it to complete their annual review.

PayPlan implemented this digital journey without sacrificing the quality of payment plans or service, keeping arrangement rates in line with those completed via phone and achieving +86 NPS score (as at December 2017).

Partnerships:  PayPlan’s Digital Referral Partnerships, training and staff development transformed the way consumers could access debt advice via their creditors. PayPlan created three new digital referral methods for creditors to use:

  • Web referral form (creditor agent instructs PayPlan to call or email customer).
  • Co-branded SMS/email campaigns (message content and landing page).
  • Trackable website links (optimized journey from creditor website to PayPlan).

By using these new methods, creditors engaged up to 10 times more consumers in debt advice.

Each digital referral partnership launched with creditors involves an hour-long agent training session to ensure they can identify the triggers for spotting problem debt and the practical application of making a debt advice referral.

By working closely in-house with creditors and listening to calls, PayPlan developed bespoke training and mentoring packages, tailored to the needs of the creditor and their customers. Some 95 percent of delegates deemed the training good or excellent.

Commenting on the referral process, Gareth McNab, money advice liaison manager at Nationwide Building Society, said: “Implementing PayPlan’s web referral form, digital tools and staff training now means our members are six times more likely to engage with debt advice. We’re now also able to engage branch customers with free debt advice which is an industry first.”

Best practice in vulnerability:  PayPlan’s entry states that it continues to develop vulnerability best practice, working closely with industry stakeholders to make a significant contribution to the profession.

Clients with vulnerabilities make up nearly 10 percent of PayPlan’s customer base and in making a strong commitment to delivering the right client care, it pioneered a specialist vulnerability function.

Through 2017/18 PayPlan developed an internal ‘REACH’ model for supporting customers while also adopting industry models ‘BLAKE’, ‘BRUCE’ and ‘IDEA’. PayPlan also shared policies, procedures and training with other advice organisations and creditors to ensure that together, the profession continuously improves the wellbeing of customers with problem debt.

The team also worked with partners such as GamCare, Mind and The Samaritans, to ensure clients could access appropriate help.

Fiona Bonser, a volunteer listener at The Samaritans, said: “One in two adults with debts has a mental health problem. Being able to be open and honest is a big step and can be daunting. The training that PayPlan has provided, including awareness from Samaritans, means clients can be confident that they’ll be heard and understood.”

In November 2017, PayPlan launched a campaign with the IMA calling for a change in the law to protect vulnerable people from being imprisoned for council tax arrears.

A report unveiled at the Money Advice Liaison Group (MALG) Conference, combined data sourced from Freedom of Information requests to 279 local authorities. It showed a 10 percent rise in court action taken against individuals for non-payment of Council Tax.

PayPlan has also continued to campaign to end what it sees as the ‘legal anomaly’, giving courts the power to imprison householders for up to three months if they don’t pay what they owe.

PayPlan’s key achievements:

  • The creation of an end-to-end digital debt advice journey: Online I&E tool PlanFinder improved customer engagement by 30 percent and delivered a quicker speed in advice-to-outcome (18mins vs 90mins) enabling same-day solutions. The PayPlanPlus app, used to support clients in plans, has 55,000 users.
  • The launch of digital referral partnerships: PayPlan created three new digital referral channels for creditors including web referral forms, co-branded SMS and email campaigns, and bespoke landing pages with unique tracked website links. These delivered up to 10 times more customer engagement over traditional referral methods.
  • Vulnerability Best Practice: PayPlan completed a GAP analysis against Bristol University’s ’21 questions, 21 steps’ programme, which resulted in system enhancements and advanced vulnerabilities training. It led to the creation of a conversational model for addiction called REACH. This was all underpinned by partnerships with organisations such as GamCare, Addaction and Samaritans.

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Source: Courtesy Credit Strategy