CICMQ Accredited Companies Discuss Their Current Situation During These Challenging Economic Times
On Wednesday, 23rd November, CICM and Head of Accreditation Karen Tuffs FCICM hosted an exclusive CICMQ virtual event with our prestigious accredited companies in attendance.
The event, ‘Supporting Our Network Through Challenging Economic Times’, asked our companies about the current economic situation, how they were putting the well-being of their employees into practice and any adjustments for their customer’s payment terms.
We had a range of attendees from Health Care, Solicitors, Engineering, Insurance, and Construction, to name a few, which gave us an incredible array of responses to all the questions we posed to them.
The first activity to break the ice was to guess how much things cost 20 years ago. We had ‘How much was bread?’, ‘How much was a wedding?’, ‘How much was petrol?’ and of course, in the current climate, we know that the prices have risen as we feel it when buying our weekly shop and filling up our car.
A Storm Is Brewing
After the icebreaker, our attendees were split into six groups and banished into the breakout rooms for the first two questions:
- How is the current economic situation impacting your organisation?
- What measures are you taking/considering to mitigate the impact?
We gave the groups ten minutes to discuss their answers before returning them to the virtual room. Each group roughly had the same answers – Not seeing an impact, especially for the construction industries, as they are still going forward with Government contracts.
Insurance firm Atradius stated that in Quarter 4 / 1, they anticipate a ‘boom’ time for debt collections with success rates from referrals and an increase of 40% in insolvency.
Biffa stated they had yet to see an impact from businesses apart from Colleges and Universities due to room rates, downsizing and hybrid working. In contrast, Amey said there was a turndown in the waste side with fewer collections.
Everyone agreed that although the current economic situation did not impact them, they predict a storm is coming next year, with more insolvencies happening.
Communication is key!
After the last group gave their answers, we sent them along their merry way back into their breakout rooms for the following three questions to answer:
- Why is knowing customers more important than ever?
- How are you identifying what support your clients/customers need?
- What adjustments have you made to your payment terms to assist your customers?
For the first question, there was a resounding answer: ‘ It’s ALWAYS been the MOST important thing to know your customers!’
You need to be aware of their behaviours, and you can look out for any little changes, such as a lack of communication, when they are generally good at replying to you.
For the second question, the most popular answer was ‘communication.’ As mentioned above, it was about identifying different behaviours, such as an increase in spending – why is this happening? Increasing their communications via email or telephone or meeting the client and customers in person for that personal touch, build that rapport and gain their loyalty to you.
Much like the other two questions, the third question came back with a ‘No’ to any adjustments. The over-arching answer was, ‘The payment terms need to be stuck to – they are what they are and need to be adhered to.’
How do you support the well-being of your employees?
We then came to the last two questions of the event:
- How are you and your teams putting well-being policies into action, and how do these vary across the sectors?
- How can organisations strike the balance of supporting employees at difficult times and staying financially viable themselves?
Once the ten minutes were up, we got straight into their answers. Our CICMQ-accredited companies take the well-being of their employees seriously, which is why they are the best of the best in the Credit Management and Collections industry!
Our accredited companies have confidential phone lines for staff to ring to discuss anything they wish and Mental Health first aiders to support struggling teams.
They also commented on company-wide Well-Being surveys, which create action plans from the answers submitted, safe spots in the offices to go and work from, and 121 time with managers to discuss any issues.
The last question of the session was about striking a balance between working from home vs. office working. The census was that it was better to give the option to work from wherever their team members prefer and not to drag people back to the office but entice them in with new perks such as food and drink, investing in people’s career paths, team lunches and catch-ups, and more employee benefits.
Although a couple of attendees said it was hard to create camaraderie with your colleagues who work from home, offering that flexibility and looking after your team is the number one priority. In doing so, the results will follow.
The event gave us insight into our accredited companies and how the economic challenges will affect them next year. With awareness of their answers, it means we can support our members and companies to drive the industry forward and unite the credit and collections community.