Within all of our recent memory, when someone referred to a forbidden communication channel for debt recovery efforts, they were referring primarily to calling mobile phones. This was a time when cell phones were a luxury item and caller ID was in its infancy. Oh, and people answered their landline phones. Let's take a moment to look back fondly on those simpler times.
Today, when someone refers to modern communication channels we aren't allowed to use to communicate with debtors who have not provided express consent, the box of tech is much larger. Mobile phones are still prominantly centered at the heart of the topic, but there are many ways to touch those devices and consumers:
- Direct calls (like that's effective - no one answers their phones anymore)
- Text messaging (oh, how the millenials love their text messaging)
- Voicemail drops (this one is really intriguing if you haven't explored it)
- Email (don't let anyone tell you this is losing value - email is very important)
- Virtual Agent Collector (cheapest agent you ever hired, hands down)
When is each permitted? How do you get permission? What are the effective strategies for getting permission? Many questions surround this complicated issue, and for some they may feel like a dog chasing a car. What do you do once you catch it?
Let's start at the beginning. You can't do anything without permission, and this is easier than you think to obtain. Most people in younger demographics actually prefer to communicate electronically, meaning reading or listening to a message at their leisure. Permission can be obtained through letter campaigns or if you miraculously reach the individual by landline. A simple verbal opt-in with electronic confirmation or web landing page with an opt-in for these alternative communication channels is perfect.
The next consideration is what you are going to do with the consumer once you receive permission to talk to them through any of these means. Is your software able to incorporate these channels into its processes? Can you add in third party services like Solutions by Text or VoApps?
If you really think hard about the consumer who prefers to communicate via these technologies, a logical conclusion is that this demographic of customers are just uncomfortable or unwilling to speak to a live person over the phone. There is some very interesting psychology behind what has changed, but at it's core, who cares? The real takeaway is that the behavior exists and there are ways to accommodate and even leverage it.
Do not stop at just establishing permission to communicate via text message, email or voicemail drop. Give these consumers the option to resolve their accounts on their own with a virtual agent collector. Feed that desire to get things done on their own schedule, spare them the human interaction, and give them a sense of control with a self-directed resolution process.
Everyone wins. You communicate more efficiently, sparing time and frustration for your collectors, your consumers feel empowered to resolve their debts independantly, and more payments post without any impact to your labor costs, making you and your client happy.