Sigma develops fantastic relationships with clients and customers alike

Case studies

Energy Client

Date:  January 2016

Sigma is supportive of its clients and provides a flexible approach to its service provision and resourcing. Such flexibility and support has been demonstrated in regard to our ‘White Label’ service provision for a major UK energy retailer where we provide: ‘Live’ debt recovery (inbound & outbound telephony); Query management; ‘Final’ debt recovery; and ad-hoc customer campaigns.

The ‘White Label’ Final Debt Team originally started with 8 Full Time Employees (FTE) and quickly rose to 20 FTE including the addition of 4 “Super users”. The partnership’s ‘White label’ Live Team was set up shortly after with a team of 10 FTE and has increased month on month to 80 FTE. We have a dedicated “Client Performance Manager” who oversees the daily client liaison and manages all the activity within the team; they are supported by 7 Team Managers, each managing a team of between 12-15 customer advisors. This is further supported by 4 call coaches that assist with coaching and development of staff.

Sigma is currently delivering a Return on Investment of greater than 10x cost of service. The partnership has delivered instant success and headcount has increased by over 500% in just 12 months. Tight time frames have been handled superbly together with the introduction of new services and the need to be flexible. Training and recruitment requirements have been successfully managed, all whilst achieving Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and jointly improving performance month-on-month.

People development has been vital to the success of the project. The partnership has delivered a phenomenally successful programme whereby the client provides specialist trainers to work alongside Sigma’s training team in delivering bespoke training to the team. Training is cyclical and is conducted upon induction; when new products, services or changes are introduced; and on a quarterly basis in order to maintain knowledge and skills.

The impact of the partnership on the client’s customer care and credit management has been widely recognised by the industry resulting in back to back awards; energy team of the year and outsourcing partnership of the year 2015.


Retail Client

Date:  January 2016

Sigma provide 10 dedicated FTE conducting ‘white label’ early arears collections calls to this major retailer's customers.

Sigma also provide all lettering, email and SMS messaging – effectively managing the entire dunning process for its client. We have been able to provide a cost effective solution for our client which has surpassed expectation in terms of collections performance. Training was conducted as IT set-up was nearing completion and this involved members of both the Sigma Training Team and our client's Credit Management Team. Sigma’s advisors feel very much part of the client's Team; attrition is extremely low and the client's Credit Management Team is extremely visible to the Customer Advisors.

Significant improvements in collections performance have been achieved by the Sigma ‘White Label’ team from day 1. With the incumbent supplier collecting on average 22% of overdue monies passed to it, Sigma is more than doubling this performance. Further, customer feedback has been extremely positive and complaint levels have fallen since the service moved to Sigma. Successes include:

  • Achieving collections liquidations of over 60% against an initial target of 22%
  • complaint volumes well below the client Key Performance Indicators
  • team attrition levels extremely low ensuring continuity of expertise

Financial Services Client

Date:  January 2016

This financial services client was one of Sigma’s first 'White Label’ Early Arrears clients and was won following a competitive tendering exercise conducted in the early part of 2013. The contract went live in January 2014 following extensive training and implementation, with Sigma conducting recovery activity which exactly mirrors the activity conducted by the client’s own internal collections operations. The exercise was conducted in this way so that the client could benchmark their collections operations against the activity of a collections specialist. Sigma has continuously outperformed on the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) measurements set down by the client. At the turn of 2014 Sigma provided 27 Full Time Employees (FTEs). Over the summer of 2015 this number expanded to 45 FTE.

Sigma conducts ‘live’ collections calls to customers in default and customer advisors also handle any queries raised. Advisors work directly from the clients systems with access granted via a secure dedicated line. All payments received are processed within the client’s payments processing systems. The Sigma advisors are trained thoroughly across multiple systems and are at ease in adopting client specific technologies. The focus of the credit management service for this particular client is customer rehabilitation, working with the customers to get them back to a position where they can continue purchasing with the client without causing any further financial stress. In addition to the provision of customer advisors, Sigma also provide designated full time trainers, Call Coaches, Assistant Recoveries Managers and a Client Performance Manager to manage the account.


Sigma's relationship manager for a major UK energy client had the following to say in regards to an industry award winning partnership

January 2016

It was a huge change for my business to outsource collections activity, this has always been undertaken by our internal teams and we prided ourselves on doing this well. Unfortunately when there are other internal front office pressures it is often the case that collections could be viewed as a secondary function and staff are pulled from this to assist delivery of core activities. This was certainly the case for us and as such I suggested that perhaps this was a good time to pilot this activity with a collections specialist such as a traditional DCA whose core function is to collect outstanding monies.

As with most businesses one of the biggest considerations when looking to outsource will be cost. My initial reason for selecting Sigma to undertake my outsource activities definitely came down to them being the most cost effective, however my rationale for continuing to expand the team and broaden the scope of activities was due to so much more. 

Since implementation they have understood my business and taken ownership of my collection requirements superbly, demonstrating a remarkable level of consistency in performance as they continuously exceed a tough set of targets and KPIs. The quality of the Collections Management team has been excellent. They are fully engaged and eager to deliver and improve week on week. The Team Managers have a great rapport with the advisors and are continually striving to bring the best out of each one. This creates a great atmosphere within the team and a real buzz about the work being undertaken. One thing I really like about working with Sigma is that everyone from advisors to Heads of Department are encouraged to interact with me and my team in order to address and resolve any issues that arise. I definitely feel like part of the “Sigma Family” and not necessarily “The Client”. This makes it far easier to have open and honest discussions and is different to my experiences to date with other service providers.

Sigma’s flexibility to meet my rapid expansion requirements has been hugely impressive and not something I have experienced when working with outsource partners before. 

Their ability to build and create bespoke databases and reports quickly is also another huge positive. The ability of the Operational team is fantastic; the unique way that they can turn at times a half-baked request into a fully functioning MI tool is impressive. As this partnership moves forward requirements continue to develop and change and these are always effectively managed. In all honesty when I commenced this activity I didn’t fully appreciate everything that I would want to see in order to demonstrate to my internal business exactly what the team was delivering as a return on investment and it has been hugely beneficial for me to be able to have direct access to the developers in order to discuss requirements and formulate a plan.

Another huge selling point for me is the ability for me to be able to have a direct route to interact with all of Managing Directors and not just a “Key Account Manager”. They all take an active role in the partnership with myself which is something rarely seen in larger organisations. I have found this hugely beneficial and this continues to demonstrate to me that they are fully engaged in delivering the best for my business as well as their own.

The relationship manager for a leading financial services client had the following to say

January 2016

In recent years, our company has completely transformed its arrears collection function, shifting focus away from maximising and accelerating payments, to putting our customers’ best interests at the forefront of everything we do. We have embedded a culture that ensures the right debt solution is found for our customers. When we decided to benchmark a percentage of our collections function, it was of utmost importance that we found the right partner, who shared our beliefs and values, and would protect the customer journey we are so proud of delivering.

We went to tender with a number of organisations of varying sizes and offerings. This included large multi-national companies with relatively cheap overseas functions. It was clear early in the process that Sigma were the type of company we would want to collect on our arrears portfolio. We were most impressed with Sigma’s management team, who, in the highly regulated space we operate in, were able to give us full confidence they would provide the focus and attention our portfolio required. We have now been partners for over 18 months, and are very happy with Sigma’s delivery. We were most impressed with the speed and ease at which they were able to set up and ‘go live’ on our portfolio, with their performance rapidly reaching parity with our own internal function.

If I was to sum up what we were looking for it would be the following:

  • A company who took a strategic partnership approach – we found this hard to achieve with some of the bigger BPO’s
  • A company who could evidence the focus on customer experience
  • A confident and professional management team – what was good about Sigma was that the management team we met and dealt with as part of the RFP process was the same one we would be dealing with as BAU. Again this wasn’t the case with some of the bigger players in the market
  • A good cultural fit – this was important to us and tied into our view of a strategic partnership rather than a service provider approach

The various demands of managing a panel of DCA’s will change the industry under the new conduct regime and I can see firms wanting more visibility and more control and therefore moving to a more strategic partnership approach via credit managed outsource and away from DCA usage. This puts Sigma and other smaller dedicated firms in a strong position for all the reasons we have highlighted above.

This major UK retailer had the following to say about Sigma

January 2016

Sigma were selected as a partner because they were a great fit for us. We desired a flexible, committed and open supplier with up to date technology and expert knowledge to deliver our ultimate strategy - Sigma fits that bill perfectly!

Having continued direct access to all Managing Directors who take an active role in the ever developing strategic partnership is certainly refreshing and makes us confident that we are valued.

The support during the build and go live exceeded our expectations with Sigma delivering every step of the way. The dedicated team is awesome; it was important to us that they felt part of our company and together we have certainly achieved this.

Sigma’s communication and professionalism is fantastic from an agent level right up to Senior Management - working with such passionate and focused individuals is always a pleasure and we have been able to build a very close and strong partnership with the entire team.

Our customers are at the heart of our company and we find comfort in the fact that Sigma is able to provide fantastic customer service as well as deliver an excellent recovery rate on a high volume debt portfolio.

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