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Citizens Advice and EDF Energy Telephone Helpline Tailoring debt advice to the customers needs Ann Kinahan – Plymouth CAB.

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Presentation on theme: "Citizens Advice and EDF Energy Telephone Helpline Tailoring debt advice to the customers needs Ann Kinahan – Plymouth CAB."— Presentation transcript:

1 Citizens Advice and EDF Energy Telephone Helpline Tailoring debt advice to the customers needs Ann Kinahan – Plymouth CAB

2 The thinking …. Puzzle for a voluntary sector advice service: How to provide full debt advice to large number of clients (27,000) Without funded face to face caseworkers On a much smaller budget (funding for 3.5 posts + volunteer expenses and set up costs)

3 The thinking continued … Puzzle for commercial energy provider How to persuade relatively small number of vulnerable customers to engage over bill payments How to improve public perception of energy provider

4 A radical approach …. EDF Energy to contribute to Citizens Advice telephone capacity by funding skeleton call centre Plymouth CAB sub contracted to provide EDF Energy Helpline for customers facing difficulty paying bills

5 A radical approach continued.. Plymouth CAB also given capacity to establish phone service for Plymouth residents Anticipate taking 27,000 debt enquiry calls (+ 13,000) in year one 3.5 posts and set up costs funded Plymouth CAB forced to find way to deliver money advice at low cost

6 A radical approach continued.. All callers to receive 10 minute gateway assessment from trained volunteer (16 days training) Volunteers recruited, selected and trained by full time volunteer manager Phone line open Mon to Fri plus 2 evenings and Sat morning Supervised by 1.5 telephone supvervisors

7 A radical approach continued.. Debt clients with all paperwork give details to information assistant (16 days training) Information assistant enters details on Cash Flow to produce common financial statement Financial statement checked by Case Worker (funded from elsewhere) Financial statement and letters e mailed to client for printing and posting to creditors

8 Practicalities To ensure telephone access, needed to train 130 volunteers and maintain rolling programme of recruitment, selection, training, support and help with job search Work closely with Job Centre Plus and University Running six courses contemporaneously Assume 50% recruits moving into work and will leave

9 Practicalities continued.. Training supported with easy to use technology: On line training modules CRM with appropriate scripts Call centre technology offering options for all callers

10 Practicalities continued … Major change for voluntary sector organisation – change management skills important Careful planning over 6 months and communication with all stakeholders Volunteers only on premises when working (space shortage) Team building and support essential

11 Immediate benefits.. 900 calls processed by assessors in first six weeks % callers chose to use other services Quality outcomes for EDF Energy customers Gateway assessors report high satisfaction Many clients happy with information and dont need to come in

12 Lessons to learn … Difficult to manage with very new technology Important to warn partners that will take a few months to iron out glitches Gateway assessors need on hand support

13 Preliminary client outcomes.. Fewer complaints about access 70% callers getting through

14 Preliminary client outcomes cont.. EDF Energy customer case study: Customer with self declared mental health issues Moved into social landlord accommodation one year ago Did not inform EDFE Therefore continued paying previous tenants bills

15 Preliminary client outcomes.. Client soon in arrears of £600 (had paid £600 too) ESA only income Called EDFE but not able to help Called CAB for help PCAB were able to contact named EDFE manager

16 Preliminary client outcomes.. CAB helped him provide proof of tenancy EDF Energy recalculated bill CAB made trust fund application CAB negotiated ongoing affordable payment Client empowered – had taken first step EDFE and client both very happy

17 Preliminary client outcomes cont..

18 Next steps Hoping technology will improve Adopt apprenticeships (customer service) Apply for more contracts to give added value and increased efficiency

19 Conclusions early days but new approach : achievable with well motivated team hard work contributes to work skills of jobseekers (added bonus) will provide good debt advice more economically

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