GFKL LOWELL GROUP HEADS HONOURED WITH TOP INDUSTRY AWARD

GFKL Lowell Group’s Chief Executive, James Cornell and UK Chief Operations Officer, Andrew Bartle  were honoured at last night’s Collections & Customer Service (CCS) Awards for their work as pioneers in the credit management sector.

To commemorate ten years of the CCS Awards, organisers, Credit Strategy Magazine awarded ten organisations and key individuals with a special CCS Decade of Pioneers Award.

Kamala Panday, Publishing Director of Credit Strategy said:  Over the last ten years, Credit Strategy’s CCS Awards scheme has charted the progress of this large and complex sector. There is no doubt this world has undergone rapid transformation – from the maturation of the debt purchase sector, through to the development of a heavily regulated consumer market. And as the market has evolved, those organisations that are on its front line deserve recognition.”

Kamala continues: “Lowell Group, which merged with German market leader GFKL last year, deserves praise not only for its senior team led by James and Andrew, but for its industry-leading approach to listening to customers and actively seeking feedback as part of its commitment to treating customers fairly and with respect.”

The awards which took place last night at The Midlands Hotel in Manchester, herald best practice and achievements in debt collection, customer services, debt counselling, outsourcing and debt sale.

James Cornell said: “Both Andrew and I are delighted to have received this award. We are constantly challenging ourselves in order to adapt to the changing landscape of credit management and have a clear commitment to focus on our customers and people – it is great to receive this recognition on behalf of all the excellent colleagues who we are proud to work alongside.”

In 2013 Lowell Financial was the first organisation in its industry to team up with independent customer experience consultancy Investor in Customers (IIC) to complete a comprehensive assessment of their customer service. The assessment includes a survey of customers, staff and senior management to assess how well a business understands its customer needs and how well it delivers services that meet those needs. Lowell currently holds IIC’s top rating of 3 stars for Exceptional service.

Leeds-based Lowell Financial, a leading provider of credit management services specialising in debt recovery, data analytics and customer insight, has been accredited with Investors in People (IIP) Gold for a second time. 

With over 900 team members, the Leeds-based company first achieved Gold status in 2012.  Lowell Financial, which is part of the Lowell Group, is just one of 1057 organisations nationwide with Gold Status and one of only 19 in West Yorkshire to have been reassessed and again awarded Investors in People Gold status.

The prestigious award recognises that Lowell Financial operates the highest standards of people management and development to support its team and to achieve its business goals.

To ensure its Gold status was confirmed for another three years, Lowell Financial demonstrated that its senior management is committed to team member communication, training, development, and engagement; and also provided compelling evidence that all team members are fully engaged in the vision, values and development of the business. All of which provide a gold-plated endorsement of Lowell’s position as a highly attractive employer that recognises and supports team members.

James Cornell, Lowell Group’s CEO commented: “This is a fantastic achievement and I’m delighted that we have kept our highly prized Gold status.  Our success is down to the commitment of our fantastic team who embody the Lowell vision by working tirelessly to deliver a first class service to our customers.”

Investors in People is the UK’s leading people management standard.  Launched by the Government in 1991, it exists as a business improvement tool designed to help all kinds of organisations develop performance through their people. Gold, silver and bronze awards were introduced in 2009.

Will Brown, Senior Assessor, Investor in People commented “I’ve assessed over 100 organisations over the past 20 years and Lowell Financial is amongst the most progressive when it comes to investing in people in order to provide a great service to customers for the mutual benefit of stakeholders.”

Since being launched, over 30,000 UK organisations have gained Investor in People accreditation, but less than three per cent of those have gone on to achieve the Gold standard.

To achieve Gold status, organisations must meet a minimum of 165 evidence requirements compared to 39 for the standard Investors in People award.

Lowell Group, a leading provider of credit management services specialising in debt recovery, data analytics and customer insight, has been awarded a three star rating for ‘exceptional’ customer service – the highest rating awarded – from Investor in Customers (IIC).

IIC, a customer experience consultancy, surveys customers, staff and senior management to assess how well a business understands its customer needs and how well it delivers services that meet those needs. In total, IIC analysed responses from over 1,800 Lowell customers and 500 staff.

Two years ago, Lowell was awarded a two star rating for ‘outstanding’ customer service, becoming the first company in its sector to achieve an IIC award.

Sarah Sargent, Director of Operational Delivery at Lowell Group said:

“Our relationship with Investor in Customers has been driven by our strong commitment to ensuring we make our customers’ experience as positive as we possibly can. We were delighted to receive a two star rating last year and we found the positive feedback invaluable in helping us to set in place clear action plans to develop and further improve our customer proposition.

“Being awarded a three star rating this time is a great achievement, a real testament to our customer-centric approach and our commitment, drive and passion to make sure the customer gets the best possible service.  This award is well deserved recognition for our customer-facing team members as well as everyone at Lowell as we all play a part in shaping the customer journey.”

Commenting on Lowell Group’s ‘exceptional’ rating, Tony Barritt, IIC’s Customer Experience director, said:

“This is a superb result, which is just reward for Lowell’s ongoing commitment to enhancing the customer experience.

“Lowell’s customer culture was evident from our first meeting with them over a year ago. This is despite the fact that customer accounts are sold to Lowell by creditors as opposed to individuals choosing to be customers of Lowell.  What the results show us is that once people become customers of Lowell they show a preference that should they have future debts they are passed to Lowell to handle over and above their competitors – which is really the highest praise Lowell could hope to achieve.

“Along with some excellent customer feedback Lowell has again received some very tangible and actionable suggestions for improvement, and we look forward to continuing to analyse our findings and develop action planning alongside Lowell.”

Customer comments included:

“I was ashamed of my debt, but when talking to Lowell they put me at ease and I felt I was not being judged, not like past companies” – anon

“Lowell have always been the best creditor I have dealt with since I’ve been having financial difficulties. They have been the only one who make me feel at ease and not [like I have] failed” – anon

“Lowell take the stress out of it all by making correspondence clear and straightforward. I’m confident that they will be helpful in the future and will support [me] during my financial issues” – Alexander

“I would recommend Lowell as they have really helped me with my debt situation as I am not working and they accept and understand that. They are easy to talk to as being in debt can be embarrassing but they don’t judge. They are genuinely there to help and they put my mind at ease. Everybody I have spoken to at Lowell has been friendly and helpful and has outstanding customer service qualities. Other companies can be threatening and intimidating but Lowell are fantastic and seem to really care about their customers” – Michelle

“The company are extremely friendly, the staff take time to listen to your situation before asking about payment plans, they make sure you are able to afford the repayments before setting anything up” – Rebecca

Lowell Group, the UK’s leading debt purchaser, has achieved the prestigious honour of being selected as an ‘Investors in People Champion’, responsible for encouraging and supporting other organisations to become Investors in People by sharing best practice.

Launched by the government in 1991, Investors in People is the UK’s leading people management standard, designed to help all kinds of organisations develop performance through their people.

Champions are handpicked from organisations that have achieved the highest scores in gaining Investors in People Gold status, which demonstrates they operate the highest standards of people management and development to achieve their business goals.

Out of 30,000 organisations that have become Investors in People since 1991, only around 600 have achieved Gold status and of those less than 200 have been selected as Champions.

In order to achieve Gold status and subsequently be selected as a Champion, Lowell Group not only had to demonstrate commitment from senior management to team member communication, development and engagement; but also provide compelling evidence that all team members are fully engaged in the vision, values and development of the business.

As well as sharing best practice by taking part in presentations, mentoring and open days, Lowell Group’s role as a Champion will include becoming involved in the future development and evaluation of the Investors in People framework.

James Cornell, Lowell Group’s chief executive officer said:

Our success to date is built on the quality and commitment of our people; we have a fantastic team of over 550 people who understand what we are trying to achieve, are totally engaged, and work together to help us deliver our business goals. It’s a real honour to be selected as an Investor in People Champion and we are looking forward to helping other organisations in any way we can.

Leeds-based Lowell Group, one of the city’s major employers with 550 staff, has become one of just 600 organisations nationwide and only the 18th in West Yorkshire to be awarded Investors in People Gold status.

To mark the occasion, the Rt Hon Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds central and the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, visited the company (31 August 2012) to unveil a special commemorative plaque.

The prestigious award recognises that Lowell Group, a specialist debt purchaser, operates the highest standards of people management and development to achieve its business goals.

Lowell Group not only had to demonstrate commitment from senior management to team member communication, development and engagement; but also provide compelling evidence that all team members are fully engaged in the vision, values and development of the business.

Investors in People is the UK’s leading people management standard. Launched by the Government in 1991, it is a business improvement framework designed to help all kinds of organisations develop performance through their people.

Since being launched, over 30,000 UK organisations have gained Investors in People accreditation, but to date less than three per cent have gone on to achieve the Gold standard.

To achieve Gold status, organisations must meet a minimum of 165 evidence requirements compared to 39 for the Investors in People Standard.

James Cornell, Lowell Group’s chief executive officer commented:

Our success to date demonstrates that that we have a highly effective business strategy. It is built on the quality and commitment of our people, we have a fantastic team of ‘better people’ who understand what we are trying to achieve and work together to help us deliver our business goals. Investors in People Gold accreditation is the ultimate external endorsement of this and we are delighted that Hilary Benn has been able join us today and help us celebrate!

Hilary Benn said:


I would like to congratulate the Lowell Group on achieving IIP gold status. It is a recognition of the culture of the company which deals with people who are often facing difficult circumstances. Listening and trying to help is really important and this IIP award acknowledges the way the company goes about its work.

Click here to find out more about Lowell’s Gold journey…