Collector - May 2017 - 19
SPREAD THE WORD
about it, you've wasted your money. The
solution? Simple cross-promotion.
If consumers call into your company, your
hold message should let them know they can
check their balance and resolve their account
online. That way instead of gritting their
teeth though piped-in music, they can head
to the website and take care of their business.
Your mailed letters should detail how
consumers can call an agent, go online or call
a bill payment number. Your website should
clearly state how consumers can talk to a live
agent to make a payment or ask questions.
(Or even better: offer a chat function so
consumers can "talk" to an agent without
actually talking to an agent.) Your emails
should link to a secure payment portal and
list a phone number consumers can call and
a website they can visit in case they are wary
that the email is part of a phishing scam.
Before closing out a phone call, especially
if the consumer is calling to make a late
payment, your collectors should always
remind consumers that they can check their
account balance, make payments and adjust
their payment schedules online.
"Teach your staff how to create log-ins [on
your website] so when a confused consumer
calls and says, 'I went to your website and I
can't get it to log me in,' your collector can
tell the consumer what they need to do to
set up their account and we can make sure
everyone is happy," Hoheusle said.
The digital experience offers a whole
host of amazing benefits-higher
account resolution rates, better consumer
engagement, improved operating results and
fewer regulatory and compliance concerns-
but don't worry, robots will not be taking
all the collection jobs. You will always need
debt collectors on staff to handle complex
debt situations (especially for healthcare and
student loan accounts), answer questions
and offer compassionate and creative
solutions to consumers' problems.
"You have to have a calling arm," Collins
said. "You just can't do everything over email
or with a chat box. I think it has to be a
blended system. Maybe someday we'll get to
50/50, but I think that's still years away."
You might have the most expensive,
innovative payment technology in the
world, but if your consumers don't know
Anne Rosso May is editor of Collector
beefing up your payment portal with a virtual
negotiation product that helps consumers
hammer out a payment plan according to
your predetermined parameters, such as
minimum payment, maximum discount and
payment plan length.
While it may be old news at this point, don't
overlook in-bound IVR systems that allow
consumers to call and check their account
balance and make one-time or recurring
payments without talking to an agent. Some
systems can even address customer service
issues, like wrong numbers and complaints.
Of course, noted Ashlee Hyden, director
of marketing for DAKCS, if your IVR
system has too many available menu
options "people aren't going to listen to
all of the options, and you're guaranteed
to have a lot of hang-ups. That's when
agencies tend to ask, 'Why did they
connect to the IVR but not complete
making a payment?' A consumer may
come back and say, 'Well, it was just too
complicated.' Providing a simplified
process that's easy for the consumer should
be one primary focus for IVR."
Here are a few more tips to improve
consumers' self-service experience:
* Optimize your website for mobile
devices. "If you go to your site on a
smartphone and it looks like a smaller
version of your current site, it's not
mobile ready," Collins said.
* Make the "pay your bill now" button
the most obvious thing on your website.
Put it at the top of multiple pages so
consumers can find it quickly and easily.
* Design your payment portal with your
oldest and youngest consumers in mind.
"Try to figure out what your 70-year-old
mother would be able to do, and design
your payment technology around that,"
said Brian Hamilton, senior business
operations consultant at LiveVox. "A
20-year-old can roll with just about
anything, but you should keep your least
experienced online consumer in mind
when you set up your system."
Use your expertise to
educate and reassure
consumers. Post answers
to 10 of the most common
debt collection questions
on the consumer section of
Ask consumers how
they would like you to
communicate with them:
phone calls, letters, emails,
texts? Record their consent
and give them regular-and
change their minds.
Invest in your payment
portal and virtual
negotiation tool, and cross
promote all your payment