Helping customers in financial need
Transurban has introduced a Financial Hardship Policy to help customers who have difficulty paying their accounts due to personal circumstances beyond their control.
"The policy will help our customers struggling to pay their bills due to illness, unemployment or other unforseen circumstances—such as the death of a main income earner or medical expenses," says Craig Dent, Transurban's Revenue Management Commercial Manager.
Craig encouraged Transurban to adopt the policy in FY07. "It will help us to respond specifically to customers' individual circumstances so that we can negotiate flexible and reasonable payment solutions. The only condition is that they are in genuine need."
Prior to working for Transurban, Craig was involved in an initiative called The Utility Debt Spiral Project, which explored the close ties between the inability to pay utility bills and poverty.
The project was initiated by the Committee for Melbourne—a think tank with representatives from 170 organisations. It came under the auspices of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) program to support responsible and ethical business operations.
"The Utility Debt Spiral Project combined the expertise of business, government and communities to identify ways of reducing the impact of utility bills on the spiral of debt," Craig says.
"Participants agreed that people were entitled to essential services regardless of their ability to pay and that industries should develop hardship policies for disadvantaged customers."
Inspired by the project, Craig urged Transurban to introduce a Financial Hardship Policy for all its customers in Australia. It seemed, he says, to be a natural fit with the Group's Customer 1st philosophy.
While the level of take-up is still growing, the new policy is expected to translate to better customer service, fewer complaints on Transurban's credit management practices and lower bad debt write-off.