Co-designing the future of remote debt advice services

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Co-designing the future of remote debt advice services

Transcript Of Co-designing the future of remote debt advice services

Co-designing the future of remote debt advice services
Report prepared by 2CV for the Money and Pensions Service
January 2020
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Table of Contents
3 Acknowledgements 4 Executive Summary
Background and Objectives, Method and Sample, Key findings and recommendations
11 Introduction
Background and context, our research process and sample
15 Setting the scene
Important contextual factors that influence the customer journey
22 The end-to-end customer journey: A snapshot
25 Pre-Advice 34 First Contact 45 Receiving Advice 57 Post-Advice 59 Post-Solution
61 Recommendations 69 Appendix
Detailed Methodology and Sample Detailed Stimulus
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A note from MaPS
At MaPS we believe it is important to design the best and most effective advice services for people who come forward for debt advice and the many more who, despite struggling with their debts, do not present for advice.
We want debt advice services to be shaped around the needs and perspectives of customers and to help achieve this, we have commissioned a series of participatory co-design projects centred around the voices of customers, potential customers, and advisers. This report builds on previous research with face-to-face clients (2018) and focuses specifically on remote advice provision.
This report outlines what clients need at different stages of their remote debt advice journey and it makes recommendations for changes which would enable the sector to better meet these needs. This work, in addition to other projects we are working on, is feeding into the design of PACE (Piloting Adviser Capability & Efficiency) – a new model for debt advice that was designed in response to recommendations by Peter Wyman regarding channel shift, creditor referrals and efficiency through technology and which is being piloted in 2020.
It is our hope that this report supports advice providers with the right tools and inspiration to create a customer-first experience across all stages of the debt advice journey.
Craig Simmons, Head of Debt Policy & Strategy
Acknowledgements and authors
MaPS and 2CV would like to thank all customers, advisers, advice centres and experts who took part in this important project. Your input has been invaluable in helping us understand what debt advice services could do to support, reassure and empower customers.
2CV would also like to thank our designers, Maisie Bowes and Andy Bolton for their help designing ideas and stimulus.
This report was written by Chloe De Schryver and designed by Binal Patel.
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Executive Summary
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Background and Objectives

Around nine million people in the UK are over-indebted, and supply of debt advice is struggling to keep up with the demand. To respond to this rapidly changing marketplace, services need to find new and innovative ways to serve customers. While face-to-face debt advice services remain crucial, people are increasingly using online channels for a range of services and experiences. Within this context, remote debt advice will play an increasingly important role in meeting the nation’s debt issues. After commissioning a piece of codesign work exploring customer needs of face-to-face services in 20181 , the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) wanted to explore remote debt advice services (telephone and online) in more detail.

MaPS commissioned research and design agency 2CV to explore, through a customercentric co-design process, how advice should be delivered through remote channels. This process aimed to:

o Build on what is already working well in the sector and what can be improved – identifying the pinch points and highlights across the remote advice journey for customers and advisers;
o Identify what services could change to better meet the huge variety of customer needs (and what the role of emerging technologies could be within this);
o Understand how to maximise efficiency, service effectiveness and customer satisfaction;
o Understand how each channel could be used as both a main and supplementary channel and how to encourage channel shift from face-to-face to remote debt advice services; and
o Prioritise recommendations and ideas that would address the above objectives


1Understanding user needs from face-to-face debt advice services: a co-design approach. Full report can be found here:

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Method and Sample
What is co-design?
A co-design process aims to build ideas and services with customers and service implementers, not for them. Customers and advisers were actively involved in all aspects of the research: helping us map user journeys; informing stimulus; building ideas with us and providing feedback across multiple iterations of ideas and prototypes. By centring this research process and its recommendations on the voices of over-indebted people and existing debt advice customers, it is our hope that the recommendations outlined in the pages to follow will help enable change in the sector and support advisers to better meet customer needs.
All methods were qualitative, combining a mix of exploratory depth interviews; observations; mystery-shopper challenges; group workshops; co-design sessions, and ‘simulated debt advice sessions’ with both face-to-face and remote advice customers and remote debt advisers across three phases of research. In total, we spoke to and built and tested ideas with 60+ debt advice customers, 25+ remote advisers and 10+ managers across three countries. The fieldwork for this research took place between October (2018) and March (2019).
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Key Findings and Recommendations


Customers don’t know what to expect from debt advice or where to look for it.
o Few customers choose a channel, they often simply ‘end up’ in a service without knowing much about what the journey entails or what is expected of them. This situation is often made worse if customers are transferred by a creditor with little explanation for why the transfer took place or even where they have been transferred
o As a result, many customers are unprepared for the whole advice journey, know little of what is required of them or who they can trust
o Many customers may be in crisis or feel overwhelmed when making first contact, making it more difficult for them to establish a clear path forward
Customers bring assumptions and expectations about debt advice from outside the sector.
o Customer expectations are strongly influenced by experiences with other services, particularly remote services that are setting a new norm around speed of response, longer access hours and seamless switching between channels

The benefits of remote advice are unclear to customers and it can be harder (compared to face-to-face advice) to build rapport with customers and provide reassurance about quality and trust.
o Many customers report being ‘intercepted’ by untrustworthy services masquerading as debt advice services, making it hard for customers to discern who or what to trust
o Many face-to-face customers are unaware of the benefits that remote channels offer
Given this difficult landscape, it is important that:
o The benefits of remote advice – anonymity, efficiency and flexibility –are communicated to customers more clearly and ideally before they engage with advice (through marketing materials and at first contact with the service)
o There is better signposting and easier transfers between channels (and services, in the case of creditors) to create a more frictionless customer experience
o Any remote service provides greater transparency and clarity for customers around what it offers and how the customer journey will look, to set expectations
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Customers do not know what to expect from debt advice and have often done little or no research ahead of time – they are unsure which channels are suitable or available.
o There is potential to develop the debt advice locator tool – to allow customers to input some information in advance and to direct to them to the most appropriate provider/channel
o There might be value in some form of quality mark or accreditation to help customers identify legitimate providers

First Contact

Customers can spend considerable amounts of time in a queue/on hold, which can be frustrating and demoralising.
o Time spent queuing to speak to an adviser could be used to ‘fast-track’ urgent cases and/or provide customers with information and set expectations
o Technology such as IVR or chatbots could be used: - to provide information for customers who call out-of-hours. This could provide information and/orreassurance - as a triage tool - to help schedule appointments and direct customers to the right information
o The choice of language would be very important and it would need to be clear that the bot is not intended to replace human adviser interaction (i.e. position as an assistant to the adviser)
o It is essential that information is transferred between channels and the process is as seamless as possible; also any interactions should recognise that some customers may be in an emotional state
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Receiving Advice



Customer journeys are often disrupted at this stage due to missing information and many customers can feel forced down one path in terms of how they engage with the advice channel.
o Customers should be able to switch easily between channels during their journey and be offered choice in how they engage with debt advice. The different channels offer different advantages and may be more appropriate for some customers or some stages of the journey. Follow-up messages and case numbers can help customers switch between channels more seamlessly
o Open banking can offer significant benefits, but many customers will be wary or unfamiliar with the implications of using open banking technology. The way in which the concept is framed (i.e. the advantages it offers customers) will be critical
o For some customers, the idea of a debt advice app (that offers a one-stop-shop for all aspects of debt advice) has huge appeal and offers choice and flexibility in how they go through the journey. However, for some this idea is off-putting so offering choice will be key
o Copies of case notes could help customers feel reassured that the conversations they had were captured, but these should be short and easy to understand. Visual aids could be helpful to explain solutions
o There would be value in testing various ‘nudges’ such as text messages to encourage re-contact and ensure customers continue on the journey

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Post Advice

Customers often report feeling ‘in the dark’ about what is happening at this stage.
o There is a desire for more transparency about any dialogue between advisers and creditors after the advice session
o Customers would value regular updates, provided these are concise and salient

Post Solution

There is currently little adviser-customer interaction once a solution has been put in place.
o Many customers are open to wider support such as budgeting tools, but it is essential that these are not perceived to be judgemental or ‘Big Brother’ like

Text message

For a comprehensive summary of our key findings and recommendations, we ask the reader to turn to page 61 of this report.
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CustomersDebt AdviceServicesChannelsDebt Advice Services