Messaging Apps are relatively new forms of technology that have only been around for the last 5 years, yet have become the front runner in communications for many. This trend is only going to continue as they gain popularity.
If we look at the Apple app store or Google Play we can see that the top ten apps usually consist of not just one but sometimes four or five messaging apps. What's App, Facebook Messenger or Viber consistently appear and continue to gain users.
In addition as AI becomes more mainstream with people using Alexa, Siri and other personal assistants. It is inevitable that AI will become part of our daily lives, we are all going to get used to dealing with it and accept that it is now part of the norm.
And now, companies are seeing a gap between how their customers are engaging and communicating and how they are. With any change there are always going to be a opportunities and companies are now taking advantage of the AI and Messaging platforms to engage with customers.
One area of business that can really benefit from advances in this technology is debt collections where a lot of agent time and resources are spending constantly chasing customers that let’s face it don’t want to talk. Relying on agents, diallers and ‘snail mail’, we all agree, is no longer a winning strategy. It is costly and inefficient and that is a fact.
Companies are now experiencing the benefits of using more modern channels like Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber and SMS and are seeing increases in customer engagement with those who owe money and more importantly are collecting more payments.
The addition of these new channels gives customers more contact options and this has been proven to increase engagement, even in collections. These text based messaging engagements provide a medium that customers prefer and are much more comfortable communicating in, especially when they are being chased for a payment. At last, customers can have a conversation on their own terms, in their own time without the pressure of a having to talk in person to a contact centre agent.
The embarrassment factor plays a huge part in this as people are put off when communicating by phone and often do whatever they can to get out of the situation. This often results in promises-to-pay not be carried though as they were made under pressure and to avoid an embarrassing situation. Put more control in the hands of the customer however and not only do the chances of engagement increase but also the chances of payment. In fact, there is a 10% higher chance of follow through on promises made using messaging than more traditional methods.
Today we are faced with a situation where the under 35s are now most comfortable communicating by text. Collections teams really should be exploiting this trend when but for some reason still seem to throw their most expensive resources at the problem from the start. Messaging communication when used early in the debt cycle i.e. as a gentle reminder, have seen a success in improving collections, reducing costs and improving agent performance. The icing on the cake is that customer experience is receiving a boost too.
A key to success in engaging in so many channels is to become channel agnostic and accept that the best channel for customer engagement is the one customers feel more confident using. It’s the one which the customer wants to use and is most likely to yield a favourable result. Agents are highly skilled and well trained but expensive and should only be used when necessary.
Avoid having agents spend time on the phone obtaining routine but important information but rather use some simple Artificial Intelligence. AI can take care of the mundane parts of any conversation and use data collected from hundreds of thousands of previous conversations to analyse the conversation in real time and give the response most likely to have a favourable outcome.
Also, Artificial Intelligence can interpret the most likely outcome of a conversation based on responses given in previous similar scenarios. It's also constantly learning and adapting as it interacts with customers. AI can tell if certain customers are more likely to pay or if they fall into the more vulnerable category based on what has worked previously and what hasn't. If necessary, AI can choose to switch to a human agent and then help to guide that agent as to what responses are most likely and how best to respond in any given scenario. AI can also choose which agent has the best skill set to deal with a customer type or situation and advise that agent on how to best handle the conversation.
Messaging and Artificial Intelligence are two new technologies that are proving to be effective in getting customers to open up and engage, much more so than traditional communication channels. They really are the winning combination for collections teams who want to get paid quicker.