Customer Journey Stages: Credit Collection with Proactive Messaging [Part 4/4]

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cash register credit collections

This is part 4 of our 4 part Customer Journey Stages series. Click below to view the following stages:

Credit card debt is on the rise in the UK. With the amount of debt customers are carrying, it’s important that you find ways to improve how you communicate with them in order to help manage their debt repayment. Proactive messaging is ideal for dealing with this issue.

If customers mainly hear from you after a missed payment, they’re left feeling less valued and more like a means to an end to get what you want — for them to spend money. This clearly isn’t the best way to build a solid customer relationship and experience.

Once you’re more strategic about how you remind customers about repayment, it ensures that they keep coming back to do business with you. One way to do this is to guide customers through the repayment process with regular messaging. This way you clearly lay out what’s expected of them and they don’t just hear from you when you need something.

Here’s how to use outbound, proactive messaging to connect with your customers, track repayment progress and manage ongoing communication based on what you learn over time.

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Improve customer communication with Outbound, Proactive Messaging

As we become a more tech-savvy society, we’ve gradually moved away from cash transactions and become more credit dependent. For example, credit card payments are forecast to be worth £189 billion by 2026. That’s over 60 million credit card transactions made daily:

[Source]

Part of the reason for this shift to more credit use is because of the convenience it offers customers. Instead of carrying around large amounts of cash, customers simply pull out a card, swipe or tap, and they’re done.

However, what’s convenient for customers has become a real pain point for businesses due to the potential for missed repayments.

Let’s say you offer a store credit card and encourage customers to use it because they either save on interest payments or receive special discount offers. When they pay with credit you basically extend goodwill that these customers can have something now with the promise to pay later. In order for this option to work, communication is vital.

You need a way to easily remind customers of upcoming payments and make repayment easy. Vanquis Bank, a leading UK-based credit card company, used a mix of automated voice, SMS payments, and Rich Media Messaging to remind customers of upcoming payments. The result was an increase in “late-stage ‘promises to pay’ to completed transactions – and with 60% less agent resource.”

Key takeaways

Two reasons to use outbound messaging to effectively communicate with customers:

Excellent read rates
Using SMS to remind customers of actions they have to take is a powerful tool because customers are very responsive.

Think about it. When you receive a text you want to read it immediately, right? Unlike emails, SMS messages don’t sit in an inbox for hours or days before you read them — texts are almost always opened and read right away.

One-touch payments to simplify the repayment process
With Rich Media Messaging, you can include a one-touch payment option so that customers only have to click a button in the message to make their payment. Instead of sending a message asking customers to take an action in a different tool at some point in the future, get them to repay their debt by telling them what to do and then giving them the option to follow through in the message.

Track payment progress with integrations and automation

Tracking customer data at each step of the repayment process is difficult. From the platform you use to track general customer data to your customer transactions database to your accounts receivable software, there are lots of systems and platforms involved with customer management.

All of these tools working independently of each other make it harder to quickly identify what stage of repayment your customers are in. For example, how easy is it for you to find payments that are 30 days past due? Or how quickly can you find which customers have received multiple reminder phone calls?

To easily access the customer information you’ve collected, integrate your reporting systems and only use systems with open APIs. This way, systems can connect with each other to remove payment friction since one system shows you where each of your customers is with repayment.

By integrating your systems, you’re able to segment your customer data so that you can automate and personalize communication. So, for example, customers who are 30, 60 or 90 days past due receive slightly different automated messages that include their repayment amount and due date.

Let’s look at an example of how to track repayment progress using our CRM integrations. Use automated text bots that are set to deliver at key points in the customer journey. For example, using the customer data you’ve added to our platform, set messages to deliver a few days in advance of the repayment deadline. Within the messages leading up to the deadline, give customers an option to pay via Stripe, PayPal or WordPay within the message. Once payment is received, your CRM database updates and customers receive a payment confirmation SMS message.

Take integration one step further and integrate VoiceSage with your customer data to understand customer buying behaviors over time. Use this information to provide relevant offers and updates to increase the likelihood of customers coming back to buy more — and paying back on time.

Integration and automation also help you:

  • Improve customer experience by proactively sharing updates during the repayment process
  • Allocate your resources more effectively to save money. Looking back at the credit collections case study, part of their success was being able to increase customer repayment even with 60% less customer support staff.

Key takeaway

Once you create an automation flow that clearly communicates to customers what’s expected and streamlines your internal processes, set up campaigns that target customers at different points in the repayment process. Act as a guide to remind them of what next steps are and give them access to follow through within your SMS messages.

Track each campaign to see what types of messages resonate with customers, the best time of day or week to send messages, what types of CTAs get customers to act, and more. The more you learn, the better able you are to guide customers and improve repayment.

Manage long-term communication to improve customer retention

As you learn about your customers, it’s important that you maintain how frequently you communicate with them. Remember, you’re trying to build a positive customer experience and relationship so that future repayments are on time.

You can use proactive messaging for ongoing notifications that act as helpful reminders before payment is due instead of a pesky nuisance that nag customers after a payment’s been missed. But there are even more opportunities available using text messages.

Once you’ve developed a clear communication strategy with customers and they follow the repayment routine you’ve established, you can begin to experiment with additional ways to engage them. For example, you can:

  • Send thank you notifications after customers buy something
  • Send an introduction to a special offer
  • Send an introduction to a new referral program
  • Send product updates and new feature releases
  • Celebrate customer milestones
  • Send reminders of past purchases
  • Send abandoned cart notifications

If there’s a CTA in any of these messages, include a one-touch button to make it easy for customers to follow through within the message. By keeping the required action in the message, you improve your chances of customers completing the desired action because it’s right at their fingertips.

Key takeaways

The point of ongoing communication is to nurture the relationship — which helps with retention — beyond repayment. This way customers hear from you regularly, not just when you need something.

Give some thought to the types of message you want to send and the ones that resonate the most with customers. Then set up automation in addition to payment reminders so that customers hear from you often, so that you’re providing value and not just asking for payments.

Get creative with outbound proactive messaging

Successfully communicating with customers to get them to do what you need them to do requires a strategy that lets you easily get in touch with them, guide them through the repayment process, and monitor progress going forward.

Keep in mind that it’s not that customers don’t want to repay debt, the process up until now has been cumbersome. Customers might get a reminder call, log onto their bank’s platform to pay, and then wait to receive confirmation that payment was received. This process was disjointed and affected the customer experience because of all the multiple steps in multiple tools.

With VoiceSage integration and automation, customers get a quick and easy way to repay their debt in fewer steps without procrastinating. Plus you have the flexibility to reallocate resources since your support team functions well with fewer people.

Published on: 23rd October 2018

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