uSwitch.com reports that 56% of debtors had not been contacted by their supplier about their debt, nor offered any advice about repaying the outstanding amount.
Customer expectations are higher than ever before and this doesn’t change when they fall into arrears. In the first instance, customers expect to pick up their smartphone or preferred device and either pay what they owe or come to an arrangement to do so as soon as they are able. They expect updates and messages to arrive via a secure online carrier and are increasingly averse to receiving letters or phone calls. On top of this, customers are used to being treated as individuals and expect this to be reflected in interactions. It is easy to irritate or embarrass a customer if they sense they are being treated clumsily or inappropriately. Ultimately, it can be harmful to customer loyalty and adversely affect NPS.
It’s worth considering these questions:
- How well are you serving customers in arrears if your billing system can’t offer the kind of segmentation that treats them as individuals?
- What unnecessary costs are being accumulated because you rely on letters and phone calls and don’t use a digital-first early-stage collections strategy?
- How can you respond and adapt quickly to a constantly changing business environment if control lies in the hands of your system supplier?
Use data to segment and personalise
When it comes to collections, your organisation’s two most important assets are its people and its data. Asking the right questions of your data can tell you who is likely to pay without intervention and who probably won’t. Those individuals can then be directed straight to the most appropriate treatment, cutting wasted effort and providing a targeted journey for the customer. In the contact centre, machine learning can help agents to make consistent and quick decisions by providing them with information that is always up to date.
Maximise early collections
It makes financial sense to focus agent activity on accounts that really need it. Digital can take care of those who have simply forgotten to pay or who need that first nudge, as well as customers who need a payment plan or to create a promise to pay while they are struggling to make ends meet. In addition to cost savings, digital provides a form of communication for people who can’t face phone calls. As well as people with general anxiety about their debt, customers with mental health challenges can find digital a uniquely non-judgemental and low-stress option. It also allows them the opportunity to self-disclose, should they feel able.
Protect reputation- reduce churn and build relationships
In sectors with significant customer churn and high acquisition costs, the importance of building lasting relationships cannot be overstated and in the case of digital interaction, how to achieve this should be carefully considered. Without the human element, the system a customer encounters must be clear and obvious, with minimum risk of drop out and opportunities for the customer to disclose any relevant circumstances. The options offered to customers can then be tailored to those circumstances.
Meanwhile, at the contact centre, with digital take-up rates of around 50% or higher, staff are given the space to resolve more complex cases with less time pressure, and customers find they can get through to the right handler more quickly.
Stay in control
Technology has moved on from the days when a system was delivered and only the supplier held the key to making changes. It is not feasible, in today’s fast-moving business environment, to be allocated a distant date and a hefty price tag for a relatively simple change. This may include changes to messaging or rebranding, changing the order of comms or the way customers are segmented. It shouldn’t be difficult for suppliers to open their APIs and facilitate quick and easy integration.. Having this control means being able to respond in real-time to challenges, more cost-effectively, as often as you need to.
There are times when speciality counts. The kind of functionality required for today’s consumer and today’s market needs range and depth. This is particularly true of collections with its high sensitivity and strict regulation. It’s also increasingly the case as letters and phone calls fall out of favour. It also makes sense in terms of revenue collected and keeping costs under control. In a competitive marketplace, organisations relying on sub-optimal systems are exposed to an unappealing combination of additional costs and sluggish customer service, inevitably hitting profitability and consumer reputation.