When working in the collections industry, it is important to understand that no one wants to have a defaulted account or fall behind on payments. Sometimes individual circumstances mean that payments are missed, and customers fall into arrears. With that in mind it is important to deal with these customers in a sensitive and caring manner because until we talk to these customers, we don’t know what has caused the defaulted payments. How you deal with these customers can have a direct influence on your brand, image and reputation. It can be the very difference between a loyal and a leaving customer. That is why customer service is a vital part of any business but especially in collections. Below I have outlined 6 things to consider when looking at how you can improve your customer's experiences and journeys.
- Put the customer at the heart of everything you do. Don't just make decisions that fit the corporation, make business decisions that incorporate the whole customer's perspective and experience. For example, as we become more and more digital, think about what communication styles are better suited for individual customers. This may include self-serving or the ability to be able to deal with their account from the comfort of their own home where the customer feels more at ease and where there is no pressure to make snap decisions.
- Treat customers as individuals. This means tailoring your approach to suit the customer by picking up on key triggers that the customer gives you through tone and language. Not every situation affects people in the same way, 1 scenario can mean different things to 2 customers. It's important to avoid the "one size fits all" habit because this shows an inability to adapt to specific situations and customer needs.
- It is so important to listen to what a customer has to say. This doesn’t just mean the interactions you have with them over the phone but also the invaluable feedback that they can provide you. Open up a communication channel for customers to provide information on what they think of your business as these can provide insight into what you are doing well and include suggestions as to what you could potentially do better.
- Align KPIs so that you are rewarding the right types of behaviour from your agents. Gone are the days where the key objective was money through the door. We have moved onto more customer focussed drivers and are delving more into cases of the most vulnerable in society which require the most sensitivity. It's important that you are not encouraging your agents to act in a way that causes detriment to the customer because of your rewards and recognition program.
- Use all the data and technology at your disposal. There are numerous tools out there that can help drive your business forward and help you make more informed decisions from the data hold. The sorts of things you can look at are the success rates of different communication channels, so that you are using the most suitable methods based on customer response rates. Look at the online journey for the customer; this will help you understand the drop off rates so that you can help support the self-serving element for the customer. All of this helps you understand what your customers actually want and not what you think they want.
- The last point on my list to consider is that the process of improving customer experience is never truly finished. It is a continuous evolution that will need constant attention. Just because something is working now, doesn't mean it will still be working as well in a few weeks or months. Always revisit your strategies for improvement to find better ways of working FOR your customers.
Technical Sales Manager, Ultracomms