Australian integrated essential service provider AGL has partnered with FICO to deliver a next-generation self-service digital collections experience for its customers that uses video messaging and personalised web processes.

The solution is built on an intelligent, cloud-based, two-way customer communication platform called FICO Customer Communication Services. It delivers more than half a million unique messages a month and has improved customer engagement. Most significantly, the new process has increased payments annually by A$19m as compared to AGL’s previous two-way SMS campaigns. AGL says this has been driven by a nearly 30% increase in immediate, one click payments from customers.

“With the pandemic, the world underwent rapid changes. We realised that customers were seeking out digital experiences that were tailored to their needs and offered convenience,” said Steven Horbury, credit and affordability head of customer operations at AGL.

As happy long-term users and believers in FICO’s intelligent collections technology, we wanted to be early adopters. And we created a customer experience that had rarely been delivered in the market.”

Managing Bills, The Modern Way

AGL’s solution is called the Personalised Collections Hub. It delivers unique video messages to each AGL customer via SMS or email with self-service options for bill payments. Customers can pay bills, request extensions or set-up payment plans all without having to call and speak to an agent.

The video messages leverage the modern trend of consuming information through video. It also provides a high-quality and professional customer experience. This enables customers to interact and access collections support. These sometimes-sensitive scenarios can be messaged to customers, allowing them to engage in their own time, privately and for some, avoiding the embarrassment of having to discuss their situation with an agent.

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“We were able to respond to customers in an unprecedented way during their hour of need,” added Horbury. “The flexibility of the solution meant that video messages and self-service options could be turned around the same day. We could also use the two-way communication to better assess who needed help and who was unaffected, rather than using a blanket approach such as a uniform treatment by postcode.”

Gaining Extra Performance

Over the past decade, AGL has been investing in digitising its collections department. It first introduced FICO CCS in 2011 to automate its collections processes. It started with early collections, with the goal of creating a digital-first journey. By 2020, 90% of outbound communications were through an automated channel. This delivered lower operating costs, improved bad debt and resulted in a higher customer satisfaction score.

AGL is continuing to expand the use cases for Personalised Collections Hub. Most recently, the company introduced a tailored hardship support function. This enables customers to set up self-service tailored assistance. AGL is also working with FICO to bring digital collections journeys into their first venture in the telecommunications industry, expanding its services across mobile and internet.

“Working with AGL on this project has been an exciting opportunity for FICO to push the boundaries of what’s possible in digital collections,” said Nikhil Behl chief marketing officer at FICO.

“FICO technology creates an intelligent management system. It combines existing account data with a feedback loop that works on responses from AGL’s customers. Advanced analytics manage the process, and video and personalised options are used for engaging communication. This enables consumers to manage their bills with the widest range of choices at their preferred time and place.”

For its achievements, AGL won a 2023 FICO Decisions Award for Debt Management.  Disclosure: the writer was one of the judges at this years FICO Decisions Awards.