The average consume receives dozens of messages a day. With the ease of communications, the volume of daily communications isn’t a surprise. Unfortunately, that means collection agencies have to do a little more to capture consumer’s attention—within the bounds of the law, of course.
Having to follow stricter regulations doesn’t necessarily limit collectors’ options for reaching consumers. Collection agencies can use a variety of techniques to personalize their communications with consumers. The benefit: stronger relationships and a higher success rate.
Many firms have already started embracing personalized communications. It may take a little more effort compared to sending out the same form letter, but tailoring messages can help collectors build better relationships with consumers and resolve more accounts. Not sure where to start? Let’s cover a few strategies.
Understanding the consumer
Consumers often find themselves in challenging financial situations—job loss, disability, unexpected expenses—and being approached by debt collectors can add to their exiting stress and anxiety. Traditional collection methods can be impersonal, making consumers feel like faceless entities being harassed for money. Personalized communications offer a different approach by first taking time to understand the consumer and their unique circumstances.
Collection agencies can use data analytics to segment consumers into different groups based on factors like the likelihood of paying, preferred communication methods, and payment histories. This can help agencies tailor their communications to better meet the needs of individual consumers. For instance, a consumer with a low likelihood of paying might be receive a settlement offer or discount as an incentive to pay—considering applicable debt collection regulations, of course.
Using personalized communication channels
Collection agencies can ask consumers for their preferred communication channel. Some consumers may prefer to be contacted via email, while others might prefer phone calls or text messages. Using the consumer’s preferred channels shows a willingness to accommodate their needs, which makes the communication process more effective and less intrusive.
Make sure to follow compliance regulations, even when you automate communications. That includes obtaining consent, calling consumers only 7 times in 7 days, and communicating only within the allowed hours.
Use empathy and emotional intelligence
Effective personalized communications starts with building rapport and trust. Collectors should make an effort to understand the consumer’s situation, including any financial hardships, job loss, or health issues that may affect the consumer’s ability to pay. Here are some things to consider as you interact with consumers.
- Listen actively, without interrupting: Give consumers an opportunity to express their concerns and provide information about their circumstances.
- Use empathetic language: Choose words and phrases that convey empathy, understanding, and respect. Express concern for the consumer’s challenges and acknowledge the difficulties they may be facing.
- Ask open-ended questions: Encourage consumers to share more about their situation. These details may be relevant to finding a suitable resolution.
- Validate their feelings: Acknowledge the emotional impact of financial difficulties and let them know that it is normal to feel stressed or overwhelmed in such situations.
- Offer convenient payment options: Propose alternative payment plans, negotiate settlement amounts, or suggest payment arrangements that are more feasible for the consumer.
- Avoid judgment or blame: Blaming or shaming debtors can escalate tensions and hinder productive communication.
- Steer clear of condescending tones: Avoid sounding condescending or dismissive, as it can undermine the consumer’s trust and willingness to cooperate.
- Don’t make assumptions: Treat each individual with an open mind and avoid stereotypes and generalizations.
- Don’t push for immediate payment without considering circumstances: Be mindful of the consumer financial situation. Pushing for immediate payment can create additional stress and strain the relationship.
- Avoid sharing personal information: Respect the consumer’s privacy and confidentiality. Avoid discussing their debt or personal information with third parties unless authorized or required by law.
Tracking and measuring success
Tracking and measuring the success of personalized communications will help you determine which communications are most effective and identify areas for improvement.
Monitor the response and repayment rates after sending personalized communications. Higher response rates and increased payments are a sign of success. When consumers enter a payment plan, continue to track how well consumers stick to their plan.
If you send messages through different channels, measure and compare the effectiveness of each channel. Note also whether consumers are more responsive to messages sent to their preferred channel.
Measure the time it takes to resolve debts after sending personalized communication. If personalization leads to faster resolutions, it indicates increased efficiency and effectiveness in debt recovery.
Continuously monitor communications to be sure their compliant with legal and regulatory requirements. Monitor compliance metrics, such as complaint rates, legal disputes, or violations, to ensure that the process follows industry guidelines and protects debtors’ rights.
Personalizing communications in debt collection brings compassion and understanding to a traditionally challenging process. By recognizing debtors as individuals with unique circumstances and needs, collectors can build rapport, trust, and cooperation. This shift towards personalized interactions benefits both collectors and debtors by increasing repayment rates, improving customer satisfaction, and fostering a more positive view of the debt collection industry as a whole.