A recent study conducted by Pew Charitable Trust revealed that 8 out of 10 people in the United States live in debt. Similarly, when customers fall behind on payments, it poses significant challenges for both the consumer and the business. All businesses, regardless of the industry, require timely and regular payments from customers to stay afloat. When an account goes past due, many send the account to a reputable and compliant collection agency to obtain monies on their behalf.
Providing good customer service shouldn’t stop when an individual has fallen behind on payments. Even during third-party debt collection, agencies should deliver exceptional customer service and, ultimately, end the relationship with a satisfied customer. Customer satisfaction can seem hard to obtain within the collections space, but it is possible! Here are some ways a collection agency can ensure customer satisfaction.
1. Treat Customers with Respect
Professionalism is important in all businesses. When you’re rude or unprofessional to an individual, they are more likely to avoid your communications. If you cannot communicate, you cannot collect the debt on behalf of your client. Ultimately, this means your agency’s profits suffer.
Collecting late payments can be frustrating. However, it’s not an excuse to be impolite to debtors. Use official and compliant language. Ensure all communication – written or verbal – are formal and polite. Train agents off the bat how to successfully communicate with a rude consumer. Learning positive talking points can be difficult, but doing so leads to less friction during an already difficult conversation and goes a long way to skew customer satisfaction in your favor. If you’d like to read on about creating positive collection call, check out our recent blog here.
2. Personalize the Collection Process
The individual should be at the heart of every debt collection strategy. Nowadays, many agencies are shying away from mass, repetitive collection calls. On average, this approach makes people embarrassed, angry, and resentful. None of these things lead to customer satisfaction. Treating each debtor scenario uniquely and individually helps gain trust and satisfaction with the consumer. An easy way to accomplish this is to have one agent assigned to an individual for the entirety of the repayment relationship. This builds rapport and leads to the debtor paying quickly and on-time more often than not.
3. Have an Effective Strategy for Receivables Management
Within your agency, improving your receivables management cycle leaves debtors more satisfied. This discussion should start with your payment processor and establishing a collection agency merchant account. Please make sure you have a full self-service payment arsenal onhand so individuals can pay when they want and how they want. Adding value services such as pay by text, IVR, or even web payment negotiation tools can go a long way to motivate debtors to pay more frequently and on-time. Furthermore, ensure invoices and account balances are easily accessible and simple to understand. Not leaving any room for questions to arise makes you guarantee payments flow your way easily and consistently.
4. Tailor Communication Based on Preferences
There are many media channels and communication tools agencies can use to reach out to individuals. Unfortunately, not all are compliant when it comes to debt collection. Obtain the correct and proper authorizations and understand how your debtor wants to receive correspondences from your agency. Some want the convenience of an SMS text message or email correspondence. Others may request you only reach out to them via a phone call. Whichever is preferred, ensure they can easily opt-out of or update their options. Making this experience more consumer-friendly leads to less tense discussions once you have the debtor’s attention.
5. Don’t Ignore Complaints and Compliments
Messages from the debtors, whether good or bad, are an opportunity to better customer satisfaction. Compliments from people help you know what to reinforce moving forward. Complaints pinpoint new action steps needed to improve your repayment strategy. Additionally, as a collection agency, you are a high-risk business. This means increased regulatory measures and oversight. Be sure to respond to any negative compliant – no matter the platform. Doing so shows a willingness to assist consumers immediately and lowers your susceptibility to sanctions or fines.
6. Make Use of Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Customer surveys reveal a plethora of helpful information. Agencies should survey individuals throughout the entire process of repayment. But, aim only to ask questions that improve your service delivery. Feedback from these surveys can help pinpoint any issues and prepare for future problems. They can also help determine why some accounts slip into a permanent, non-payment status.
To conclude, customer satisfaction is an important business measure – even as a collection agency. Offering a pleasant and professional debtor experience leads to more accounts paid in full. This quickly can snowball into your agency obtaining more and larger clientele, which increases your bottom line. Although there isn’t one all-encompassing solution to improve customer satisfaction, developing a consumer-centered mindset will help you make informed and beneficial decisions for your business. Incorporating these six proven strategies into your customer satisfaction handbook is an excellent starting point to build off as your agency grows.