Talking about debt is tricky and it&rsqfuo;s these conversations that make your customers run and hide from you. Debt collectors know all too well how their debtors ignore phone calls and toss letters away, and even if they manage to contact customers, they often don’t get the payment they need in the end.
There must be a better way to connect with customers that keeps both you and them smiling. And there is: it’s conversational customer engagement via multichannel messaging.
Multichannel messaging (sometimes called omnichannel messaging) is using a range of digital channels to engage with customers. Examples include SMS, WhatsApp, Viber, WebChat and Messenger, and the list continues to grow. These conversations can be one-way, but AI-driven two-way messaging is the way forward if you want to see stellar results.
We live in a physical world that interweaves with the digital world, and especially for the younger generations, the boundary between the two is becoming ever blurrier. So, to connect well with customers, it makes sense to talk to them on the channels where they are already busy, which are digital.
SMSs are often sent out in one-way blasts that can be seen as demanding. On the other hand, two-way conversational texting allows for response and information gathering.
By being digital, conversations can be AI-led using automation and Natual Language Processing to relate to customers with better understanding. The collections chatbots can learn to detect vulnerability, intent and context and can guide a conversation appropriately.
AI chatbots handle the mundane, time-consuming tasks and leave the more complex issues to an agent. This means most customers won’t have to wait in a queue for a human and it saves on company resources.
Mobiles come with a host of multimedia tools, such as cameras. For example, you can take a photo of your ID/passport and send it for quick identification whilst in a conversation. Likewise, live surveys can be conducted via the messaging channel.
You can do more by integrating with third party engines like forms and payment gateways. These are secure and user-friendly and allow you to complete the entire process all in one conversation, and it also facilitates more self-service.
All the channels can be managed in one view by an agent – they are not in separate silos - and each agent can handle dozens of conversations at a time. The app can seamlessly switch between channels and route to an agent as needed. The system also records each conversation and provides data for analysis.
Since 1 in 6 people in the UK are hard of hearing, talking on the phone is simply not an effective option, whereas conversational AI text messaging is like a breath of fresh air – so easy to use.
Your customers don’t want hassle and don’t want to waste their time trying to figure out your system. They are looking for ease-of-use and convenience, so if you make it a smooth customer journey, they will use it.
Ultimately, using multichannel messaging results in better collections outcomes. Companies that use multichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak multichannel strategies (Aberdeen Group). The following are stats from Webio clients.
Automation within 3 months of adoption – 40% (which steadily increases to 70%+)
Engagement rates up by 48%
Reduced operational costs by 70%
Agent productivity up by 42%
Desired outcomes increased by 80%
Increase in connections with previously failed attempts – 50%
WhatsApp – 2 billion
WeChat- 1,2 billion
Facebook Messenger – 988 million
Viber – 823 million
Snapchat – 557 million
Telegram – 550 million
Different generations tend to prefer different channels. While the older 55+ group still feels safer with talking on the phone, the younger generations are embracing digital messaging. It also depends on which country you live in. In China, WeChat has over a billion users, who send over a 45 billion messages every day for personal and business use, but it is not used widely outside of China.
Most companies start out with SMS messaging and don’t see the need to go further, however, by adding more channels you get to engage with people who are missed by SMS. WhatsApp, for example, has 2 billion users who send a total of 100 billion messages a day. That is a lot of messages! SMS usage is just not as active (23 billion a day, having peaked in 2011), so by using WhatsApp, you find more people.
WhatsApp started offering their business accounts in 2018, and since then, WhatsApp Business has taken off with force. With its WhatsApp Business API, it is easy for large enterprises to integrate and use for business purposes. (This webinar digs into why WhatsApp is 5 times more effective at generating inbound customer engagement.)
These messenger services are the next generation of SMS with rich media, branding, interactivity, and other features.
Once you have set up your chatbot in one channel, it is easy to use in all the channels you choose.
Customer Connections: The new conversation rules for credit, collections and payment
WhatsApp is becoming more popular with WhatsApp Business reaching 30% usage in less than two years, putting it just 7% behind SMS.
Conversational middleware can also be called “conversational orchestration” where the software acts as the central intelligence hub of all customer engagement activity. The debt collection technology is secure and easy to use.
This visual explanation sums it up well:
Debt collection is a challenging task but it can be made easier if you use the technology available, like multichannel messaging using conversational AI.
Chat to us of you would like to improve your engagement
response rates, reduce operating costs, and recover more debt.