The way customers communicate with the organizations they interact with has evolved – and these days they largely prefer digital methods such as email and SMS. This digital preference also applies to debt collection, so organizations still using traditional debt-collection methods when contacting customers need to ask themselves why.
Today’s customers are unrecognizable from those of even a decade ago. Technology has made many previously manually intensive processes much easier, and customers’ preferences have evolved along with these developments. They:
- are increasingly tech savvy
- overwhelmingly prefer to engage digitally
- respond best to highly personalized and timely communication
- prefer to self-serve when it’s convenient for them
- use readily available technology to block and filter unwanted content
- are more vocal and critical if they experience poor customer service
Most organizations understand these evolving expectations and have implemented digital solutions for the products and services they offer. But this evolution also needs to flow into an organization’s debt-collection practices.
Debt collection is a necessary part of doing business and the way it’s carried out can affect an organization’s brand and image. This means that using traditional debt collection agencies to recover overdue accounts is no longer a viable option. Outdated practices such as having call centre staff contact customers over the phone at times inconvenient for them results in poor response rates, customer experiences and outcomes.
One particular issue surrounding traditional debt collection agencies is their many points of friction. For example, they may find the customer they’re calling isn’t available, it’s the wrong phone number, they’re busy, or they don't have time to talk. If a traditional debt collector can’t contact the customer on the first try, they must then keep calling until they do. This requires a large number of personnel calling customers several times a day. Compare this to a digital debt collection agency that can send out thousands of messages to customers in a very short time frame.
When it comes to debt collection, today’s customers want to self-serve using the communication channel of their choice at whatever time they like. They want to be able to modify their payment plans, resolve their debt, dispute their account, in fact, anything they can do over the phone they want to be able to do digitally. This not only creates less stress for them but ultimately benefits the organization as it means fewer unhappy customers.
Through social media, customers who are unhappy with the organizations they conduct business with can post their complaints. This can cause reputational damage that may take months or years for an organization to recover from. Therefore, it’s in an organization’s interests to work with customers to resolve disputes or unpaid accounts. Not only does it help protect brand reputation but if customers receive a satisfactory experience from these organizations, they’re more likely to continue to do business with them.
The way to help customers resolve their overdue accounts easily without causing brand damage is very difficult if using a traditional debt collection agency. However, a digital debt collection agency like InDebted gives customers all the information they need to self-serve through the channel of their choice, 24/7, every day of the year. Organizations need to make digital debt collection a part of their own evolution. If not, the opportunities to become more customer focused – with the resulting benefits that brings – will be missed.