Bristow and Sutor, the Redditch based enforcement agency specialising in local authority debt recovery, has won an industry award for its partnership with customer engagement tech company Webio.
The enforcement specialist was nominated for three categories at the Credit & Collections Technology Awards, held at the Midland Hotel in Manchester on Thursday 4th November. Alongside technology partners Webio, Bristow & Sutor were victorious in the Digital Business Transformation category and were shortlisted for the Innovation in Collections & Recoveries and Best Use of Technology awards.
The Credit & Collections Technology Awards recognise, excellence and innovation in the UK credit and collections industry. These awards celebrate solutions and innovations in lending, credit and collections through a range of categories related to technological needs and support.
Bristow & Sutor has more than 42 years of experience in the collection of local council tax, non-domestic rates and unpaid Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs). The business partnered with Webio last year to implement WhatsApp Business API as an inbound channel for people in problem debt, providing more opportunities for customers to reach out and find a resolution.
Webio uses the power of conversation AI to automate and blend chatbot and live agent-customer conversations across a multitude of messaging channels.Conversation threads capture chat history and remain open 24 hours a day, which improves the quality of responses and ensures key information is logged and accessible whenever someone chooses to engage.
The enforcement firm predicted that many customers would feel more comfortable discussing their circumstances on message-based platforms as this removes any embarrassment associated with directly speaking about debt. This would also aim to be a useful tool for overcoming barriers such as anxiety or vulnerability. It was anticipated that allowing customers to instigate conversations and questions would have positive outcomes, especially on channels where debtors already feel relaxed, comfortable and safe.
Since adopting this updated technological approach, engagement from customers has grown to over 160,000 messages every month. Due to this success on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger has recently been added to the Bristow & Sutor Webio platform as well, with the same chatbot and automation flows applied.
Emma Watson, Head of External Communication at Bristow & Sutor, said, “Our first aim is to give customers relevant answers to queries on topics including balance confirmations, payment dates, and complaints in an efficient way and on platforms they know and feel comfortable using. 78% of messages received over the past year did not require human intervention to be resolved and consequently, Bristow & Sutor agents can now handle three times as many cases compared to responding via standard web chat. We are incredibly proud of the results we have seen since partnering with Webio and we are delighted to both receive this award and recognition from our peers.”