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Zincology: The next generation in customer understanding PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Zincology – the art of understanding your customers’ needs without directly asking – can prove to be an important step forward for the industry.

Dougie McManus
Chief Executive Officer, The Zinc Group Limited
01789 273 149
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At Zinc Group, we like to feel that we are always looking for the next big idea that will help both our clients and their customers. We are a multi-award winning company in the credit control, recoveries management, and business process outsourcing functions and all our solutions have been designed to dovetail into our clients’ current processes.

Zinc adopts an ethos built around seeking to understand clients’ needs, then delivering innovative solutions to galvanise your success. One such big idea is ‘Zincology’, which we have been developing for the past three years, and is now up and running, as we work on behalf of our clients.

The next generation
We have all heard of voice analytics, and most agencies have some form of it embedded in their systems, to do the basics of making sure that agents are not doing anything outrageous. However, we wanted to do much, much more – we wanted to take it to the next generation! So we have teamed with the very bright people at Enghouse Interactive to produce a system that is a benefit to our customers and clients.

The system has two elements to it: Voice Analysis and Vocal Coaching.

Analysing and coaching
We will all be aware that there are now a huge number of tick-box requirements that the agents on the telephone need to go through by law or guidance – have they gone through their Data Protection Act procedures, have they appropriately set out the consequences of non-payment and summarised the call?

All these are essential, so we need to coach the agent to include them within each conversation.

Pure scripting would not work because it would not allow for a natural flow of conversation, so, instead, every agent has an on-screen bar prompting them of the various elements that they need to include. As they complete them, they are literally ticked-off with a big green tick and physically leave the bar to show that they are complete.

If the system understands that there are additional requirements – for example with vulnerable cases – then sub-menus are brought up for the agent to tick off.

Such a visual representation means that, as the call is drawing to a close, the agent can see if there are a number of elements that they still need to go through, so they are constantly being coached and encouraged to learn how to do things in the best way.

Full audit
With these ‘hard evaluation’ points – primarily regulatory requirements that can be judged to either have been completed or not – it is clearly important to have a full auditing process.

So all calls are now constantly monitored and we can go back to review any calls, for example, where the bar was not ticked off to show that an income-and-expenditure form had been discussed or appropriate signposting had been made to free money advice.

Moving to real evaluation
The real value for both our clients and our customers comes with the system’s ability to carry out soft-evaluation checks – that is real Zincology.

One of the real buzz phrases in the industry, in recent times is around the need to understand the customer and what is the best journey for them.

I would whole-heartedly applaud that effort, but it strikes me as strange that very few people in the industry really ask the customer what they believe to be the best course of action for them!

The key to Zincology, then, is to ask the customer about what they want, without them even realising that a question has been put to them.

Understanding without asking
‘Root-cause analysis’, the reasons behind a particular customer’s financial difficulties are, clearly, important to understand, but the problem comes when a direct question is not the most appropriate way to find out about this.

Quite understandably, customers may well not want to answer direct questions about why they are in debt. To them it might be a personal matter that, for example, they lost their job and so are unable to cope financially. They would not choose to tell you about their problems directly, so it is the soft characteristics that our new system can monitor which will tell us all we need to know. These include:

- Stress levels – clearly if a customer is becoming stressed, we can learn from that.
- Cross talk – if they are cutting across the agent then they are clearly unhappy.
- Speed of the conversation – we tend to speed up in conversation as we become more angry.
- Volume – obviously the louder we speak is suggestive of increased irritation.

All this evaluation is done live and in real time so that all these factors will come together to build a true picture of the customer – we need to understand them from their own perspective and our new system allows us to do just that.

Another bonus from the system is that all the above soft evaluators are available and tracked for our own Customer Account Managers allowing the Zinc QA teams to help build their skill sets and rapport in a Live time environment.

An open invitation
We are hugely excited about the opportunities for Zincology to take our customers, clients, and our own business forward to a fairer and more understanding future for us all, to the extent that Zinc will be creating a Zincology degree for our Customer Account Managers to work to achieve. This will be the ultimate in TCF and customer outcomes as it is derived from what the customer wants.

So if you are one of our existing or potential clients and would like to see the next generation of customer understanding in operation, then we would like to show you Zincology in action!

Please do contact me to arrange to come and see how we can help you to build a better relationship with your customers through increased understanding.

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