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Illustration with hand holding pound coin and a check mark that represents affordability assessement

Automating Digital Conversations in Affordability Assessments

Mark Oppermann | Head of Sales and Marketing

Think about this time 4 years ago, if you read the words “Automation” in the same sentence as “Affordability Assessments” you would wonder about what crazy future worlds the article is referencing. Affordability assessments in days gone by were mostly conducted over a phone conversation that took at least 5 – 10 mins and more typically something approaching 20 minutes plus.  Oh, how times have changed.

Let’s roll the clock forward to the present. These words are now immediate bedfellows and the perfect synergy in many ways. So, what has changed? The most obvious and biggest change over the past 4 years has been the proliferation of Open Banking which has its origins dating back to Germany in the 1990s.  The turbocharger and enabler for Open Banking was the Payment Services Directive 2(PSD2) in 2018, and today I don’t think there is any business in our industry that isn’t either using or looking to use Open Banking in some way.

Affordability Assessments and Customer Engagement

But I would like to look past the obvious benefits of Open Banking itself and look at it as a  part of a wider customer engagement strategy. The most important part of any Affordability Assessment is the actual engagement with your customer. 
 
Engaging with customers for an Affordability Assessment can be super easy.  A simple scenario is a car loan application and if the customer agrees to use Open Banking to assess affordability, a discounted rate will be applied to the repayments. A no brainer I hear you say.
 
The opposite to the previous scenario is where the business is looking to first reach out to customers regarding an outstanding account balance and at the same time looking to include an Affordability Assessment; the completion rates here are low, typically less than 30%, mainly due to the perceived lack of value to the customer, there’s no real answer for customers question “why and what’s in it for me?”.
 
The answer is to enhance the capabilities and automation of customer digital conversations. Firstly, focusing on the actual automation of customer conversations over channels such as SMS, WhatsApp, Webchat, Viber, Messenger, etc. Webio has seen our clients use more and more automation over the past 12 months than ever before, with 54.3% of customer conversations being automated in January 2021 which has grown to 72.9% in January 2022. This level of customer conversation automation wouldn’t have been envisaged 2-3 years ago, but now it’s a reality, giving businesses a huge competitive advantage over others as their capability of doing more with the same or less FTE resource is quite literally off the charts.

Great design delivers great customer experiences

One of the most important aspects of engagement that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is conversational design; mapping out what a great journey looks like and anticipating what other queries/questions customers will have at each stage and can you either answer or pre-empt them with the correct information.
 
This good conversational design will pay dividends as it identifies what capabilities will be needed to complete as many conversations as possible without handing them over to agents.
Some examples would be the next payment date, settlement figures and the important queries and questions that will be raised about why the need for the completion of an Affordability Assessment in the first place. The ability to answer all the above is achieved through API and Webhook integrations, standard stuff for most companies today.
 
Completing an Open Banking process for an Affordability Assessment is typically a multi-step process for the customer and this contributes to people dropping out before completion. This again, is where good conversational design and enhanced capabilities will deliver the required goals. The ability to answer queries along this journey or prompt the customer back to complete the process delivers significant benefits to both the business and customer.

Key Takeaways

  • Automation is possible for all your digital customer conversations so now is the time to accelerate your automation initiatives.
  • Digital Conversations over the channels like WhatsApp, SMS, etc are capable of full conversations including Affordability Assessments.
  • Deflecting high volumes of queries away from the contact centre is possible with API and webhook integrations that don’t take a lot to put in place

 

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Webio, The Conversational Middleware Company™ brings true AI driven customer conversations to the enterprise. Webio's channel agnostic conversational AI  platform uses the power of AI driven chatbots, machine learning and NLP to introduce a 'blended AI' approach to customer engagement that lets AI agents work alongside human agents to seamlessly engage with customers.

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