Since the outbreak of COVID -19, collection operations have been impacted heavily, with a high volume of indebted and unindebted customers requiring help. An unprecedented number of inbound calls from customers concerned over their ability to pay, looking to get some advice on their options and requesting payment holidays was experienced.
This influx of inbound activity is one that the collections industry was not used to and certainly not prepared for. The usual stats that are associated with customer service could now be applied to collections teams – average handling times, call waiting times, first contact resolution and waiting times for agent callbacks.
Over the course of the last 6 months, the Webio team received calls from existing and new clients who were using business SMS messaging but were now scrambling to react with lightning speed to the needs of their customers and the businesses. Now with a little distance in the rear-view mirror, we are going to look at the role that conversational messaging played in getting agents back engaging with customers in a better and more efficient way and highlight the wins that clients achieved.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the overriding success of dealing with so many customers with so many different needs was redirecting customers from phone calls to messaging. Having agents move to messaging over WhatsApp and SMS was effective. Customers were connected with the businesses in record time and in record numbers. Within a short period of time messaging was accounting for 80% of all customer engagement. Going from zero to hero in no time.
Yes, even in collections there is a place for chatbots. Automated chatbots played a vital role in streamlining inbound and outbound engagement not only with bots but also with live agents. The addition of bots to proactively reach out to and manage customer conversations directly affected by Covid transformed how collections teams operated. Handling payment holiday requests, rearranging payment dates and payment amounts meant more customers were dealt with faster, fewer agents were needed.
Webio bots relieved the pressure, giving businesses the time to transition to remote working and customers to have continuous engagement and their issues and concerns resolved quickly. For those conversations that needed some human interventions conversations were transferred over to agents who continued the conversation over messaging. No phone calls needed. Just faster more efficient engagement.
The dialler has been the holy grail of the contact centre space but that is certainly no longer the case. The volume of customer connects achieved with messaging during the pandemic was phenomenal. Endless dialling was replaced with fast and efficient conversation outreach. Customers living in the digital world are so in tune with their mobile devices that they are more comfortable responding and engaging via a messaging channel like SMS and WhatsApp.
An important distinction needs to be made though; we are not talking about SMS messages blasted out with the sole purpose being to book a phone call with an agent. But rather conversational messaging where the complete conversation takes place in messaging channels. Chatbots, customers and agents all conversing and playing their part to ensure a seamless engagement experience. Messaging reached performance levels three times higher than of the dialler for many of our clients. The dialler just cannot compete. with results like that.
Technology can sometimes be shied away from. But during Covid, many in the collections space took their first step, or more accurately their first jump into the world of conversational customer engagement and tried SMS debt collection And surprisingly for all it wasn’t that bad.
Newer clients who specifically signed up during Covid did so because of the speed with which a cloud-based business like Webio's can get agents set up remotely, trained and engaging with customers over WhatsApp messaging. Not cutting any corners but going through a proven step-by-step process that is adaptable to the circumstances any business finds itself in.
Companies had to react quickly and those that moved to messaging reaped the rewards. A large UK and European financing company, with Webio's help, successfully transitioned their agents to home working a messaging over WhatsApp and overcame IP Subnet issues in a matter of hours, with minimal impact on operations or customers. An accomplishment which they were amazed at given the situation.
So, in short, conversational messaging is a real powerhouse and has really come to the fore and shone over the course of this pandemic. But a key point to note is that messaging is not just applicable in an emergency situation. More and more collections teams are having their eyes opened to just how important a role messaging plays and where it fits into their everyday contact strategies. Certainly not one to be left on the shelf.