In debt collections the self-service functionality starts to be embraced by more and more companies in all industries. The trend is clear and the results appear fast. It seems that telecom and insurance companies have been the first to provide self-service to their customers. Banks have been very fast in following the market trend as well.
1. What does it mean?
DIY-trends in technology have largely opened the door to consumers willing to control everything. Web-based solutions have enabled personalization and a hands-on approach. The self-service allows customers to access information and perform different tasks over the Internet, without any human interaction.
Self-service in debt collections represents an alternative communication channel with customers. This way, companies provide the necessary financial information helping them take care of their debt.
2. Why using self-service in collections?
Both companies and debtors appreciate the use of such functionality because of the different benefits implied.
Self-service solutions are considered to be highly valuable by almost 90% of business executives, who consider it the preferred channel for several customer segments. They explain it by the following arguments:
- Customers want to be able to view their debt information, make payments, send a complaint or provide reasons for unpaid debt without talking to an agent.
- Multiple payment options remove customers’ excuses for not paying.
- Self service brings non-stop access as customers can view their banking products and can easily take action.
Studies show that over 90% of customers worldwide expect companies to provide online customer self-service portals. Generally, many people prefer to call an agent only after they tried to solve issues by themselves. Customers appreciate this channel as it:
- gives them a chance to feel in control of a situation that has rapidly spiraled downward.
- is a convenient service that allows them to never have the embarrassment of speaking with an agent about their situation, especially for those who face a psychological hurdle when talking about their financial issues.
- helps them work and complete tasks (analyze debt status, make payment, etc.) when they want. It frees them from the constraint of the business hours.
3. What results are seeing companies using a self-service portal?
A good self service debt management portal delivers tangible benefits which might include:
- Customer Service Cost Efficiency. If customers can find an answer to their problem on their own, human support needed is reduced and the volume of enquires decreases. If they have positive customer experience, they will not choose a more expensive support channel for assistance.
- Improvement in Agent Productivity. With less calls, collection agents can spend more time with customers which require more specialized assistance in order to offer solutions for overcoming temporary financial issues.
- Increase in Customer Satisfaction. A successful self-service portal strengthens the brand reputation by creating positive customer experience.
- More promises-to-pay. In practice, organizations faced a significant increase in the number of Promises-to-Pay (more than 30%) and an impressive ratio of kept Promises-to-Pay (more than 80%), when compared to traditional Call Centre operation.
Companies with the best self-service success rates are the ones that are able to make customers feel self-confident and in control.
In conclusion, providing a self-service portal is rapidly moving from a “nice to have” to a requirement for companies to comply with market trends. With the ever-increasing convergence of IT with the business, coupled with customers’ need to work at any time from any place, the self-service portal is a critical value-enabler for both.