Our Debt Sector specialist Craig Fance was featured in the Credit Services Association monthly newsletter giving his insight on customer communications during a worldwide pandemic.
For many years I have worked within the debt collection sector and I have observed how organisations have evolved their approach, focusing on an enhanced customer experience that is operationally efficient and is underpinned by regulatory principles. The impact of the pandemic has brought a new dimension to my clients’ approach as they consider the immediate changes but also in making preparations for a return to the ‘new normal’.
I’m meeting regularly with clients, discussing approaches that can be utilised to maintain a good customer dialogue. The three most common topics we discuss are:
1. How to create more engaging customer communications
2. How to deliver cost efficient communications solutions
3. How to introduce digital options to enhance the customer communications journey
Creating more engaging communications
There is now even more focus to create communications that are personalised, consistent and easily understood. Most importantly, communications should highlight a clear call to action.
During the pandemic, debt collection organisations have been focused on providing customers with more frequent account updates. There is a greater requirement to inform customers of their account status, their existing payment terms and if customer circumstances change, they should have clear signposts about how they can continue to manage their debt.
My clients have benefited from having a letter management system that allows them to quickly and simply manage letter changes so they can create and send more tailored mail. Not only has this allowed clients to quickly respond to changing customer circumstances, providing them with timely customer updates, but it has also enhanced the overall customer experience and engagement process.
Clients in the sector are also looking to maximise customer response rates and improve call to action timescales. Research suggests that on average, when we open a letter or email, we spend 5 seconds scanning the contents before making a decision on whether the communication is relevant. With this in mind, Adare SEC has introduced its clients to our SmartDesign solution. Using the science of eye tracking technology that is supported by data analytics, our in-house creative team redesign communications to ensure customer engagement rates are maximised.
Delivering cost efficient communications solutions
Many clients are focused on ensuring their business is operating as efficiently as possible. Good customer communications are a necessary yet significant investment for a debt collection organisation, so optimising them is vital.
Printed mail remains an effective way of communicating with customers and many still opt for this as their primary choice of correspondence. It has also been noted that reducing printed communications throughout the customer journey has negatively impacted overall engagement and response rates.
A Royal Mail Market Research survey that reviewed customer preferences relating to the receipt of sensitive information, showed that printed correspondence was the most preferred communication channel, followed by email. The results show that 52% of those surveyed preferred postal correspondence, 35% preferred email and 12% preferred a telephone call as their primary preference.
Adare SEC works with clients to ensure that they can continue to achieve the best return on investment. Many are taking advantage of Adare Post, our postal solution that enables clients to achieve maximum postal discounts irrespective of the volume of letters being sent out on any given day.
Our clients also work with us to develop a more integrated communications journey that makes use of digital communications such as email and SMS to complement and enhance printed correspondence. Not only does this bring cost savings but customer engagement and response rates are also improved.
Introducing digital options to enhance the customer communications journey
There have been many challenges for businesses that have onsite print and post rooms and the pandemic has meant that some have closed facilities that would normally undertake duties to complete mail processing, indexing, postal dispatch and redistribution.
To minimise any business interruptions, some businesses have taken the decision to invest in technology that has quickly enabled their teams to continue to operate effectively, whilst working from home. This enables improved security of operations, reducing operational risk in addition to realising benefits of speed efficiencies seen through process automation.
Adare SEC’s hybrid mail solution, PrintMe has supported many clients who have closed offices. PrintMe enables letters that would normally be printed via a local desktop or office printers to instead be sent to Adare SEC’s secure facilities for production and mailing. Remote workers can continue to send customer communications and by doing this, the requirement to locally print, enclose and dispatch a letter is no longer needed. Many clients have also benefited from reducing costs by moving to a centralised service.
As many mailrooms have also had to temporarily close, some of our clients have redirected the receipt of their customer letters to Adare SEC who will scan, capture the contents and securely send a digital copy of the letter back to the relevant department. Adare SEC’s SmarterScan solution has been rapidly set-up, in some instances in less than 48 hours, allowing mail processing to continue without business interruption. Taking this outsourced approach has allowed clients to speed up the overall processing time of customer correspondence driving further efficiencies to the debt management process in addition to improving customer outcomes.
At Adare SEC, we provide integrated communication solutions for over 30 companies and agencies in the credit and debt sector. We produce around 100 million print and digital communications on behalf of debt collection and debt purchase clients each year. We were also the first communications company to become a member of the Credit Services Association (CSA) under the CSA’s Supplier Membership category.
To learn more about our client service, you can email Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on +44 (0)1484 867 203.