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. As the country faces uncertain economic times, engagement with customers who are experiencing a debt episode needs to be consistent and targeted. Most customers will want to deal with their situation with as little stress and anxiety as possible. Factors that demotivate the desire to resolve have to be addressed and hanging on the phone for a contact centre agent often increases tensions at a time when they need to be managed.
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.
If you run collections as part of a billing system, 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 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 to the most appropriate treatment, cutting wasted effort and providing a targeted journey for the customer. In the contact centre, smart analytics can help agents to make consistent and quick decisions by providing them with information that is always up to date.
It makes financial sense to focus agent activity on accounts that really need it. Digital self-service 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 fact, results show that digital is effective across the whole debt cycle. In addition to cost savings, it 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. Meanwhile, at the contact centre, with digital taking a high proportion of engagements, 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. As contact centres move to more advanced technology, end-to-end collections strategies can be created which manage customer interaction from self-service through to agent engagement and automated follow up. To comply with best practice and meet regulation, sophisticated business process modelling techniques can be used to ensure potentially vulnerable customers are identified and managed appropriately.
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 or it could be developing new strategies to accommodate new business requirements. 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.
Book a demo or talk to us about how our collections expertise can benefit your organisation.