For Debt Collection Agencies it’s vital to interact with customers on their terms with the technology they feel comfortable using and we can’t find a more common and customer-friendly platform than the smartphone text messaging service.
As part of our technology in debt recovery series, we explore the power of text messaging and share our top benefits of integrating chatbots into this platform.
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Text messaging is an incredibly easy way to communicate and, let’s be honest, modern living means our mobile phones are rarely separated from us. Past research suggests we will pick up our phones an incredible 85 times a day (twice as often as we expect).Today’s customers want personal, relevant mobile-centric solutions, making text messaging (the smartphone’s most used feature) a truly powerful tool to communicate. When you add the chatbot to this platform it can become one of your strongest solutions when recovering debt.Like website bots, SMS bots will use a conversational style that helps answer customer queries, handle responses and drive engagement. SMS chatbots leverage natural language processing (NLP), which make it easier to design interactive conversations with customers.Our experience tells us SMS bots are a brilliant feature in the debt recovery armoury but what are the real benefits powering this quickly growing two-way communication tool? In this blog, we’ve picked out our top three benefits. Here’s the list:
It’s one of the curious things about SMS. We place text messaging in a higher-value category than other platforms. Social communications platforms like Facebook messenger and WhatsApp are kept in place by their title and what they were created for, users to be social with each other. So we often assign less importance to content coming from these platforms.We view emails as a business tool or often label it as ‘a necessary evil’ when we are bombarded with marketing offers for every service we ever signed up to. We’ve all done it, we receive a notification in our email inbox and categorise it in our mind as something we can come back to and sort out later (the stats suggest over 75% of us just push delete). Text messages, on the other hand, enjoy a weight of heavier importance. SMS messages normally come from people in a personal network, people we’ve deemed important enough to give our mobile number to or taken theirs. The user has offered value at some point in the past, and the weight of that value gets extended to their text messages in our unconscious decision making.To put it into perspective, email is estimated to have an open rate of below 22% and when you measure that against research findings for SMS messages, which enjoys an incredibly strong open rate of around 82%, now that proves its real communication muscle.
2. Customer trust
When it comes to working with customers in debt, trust plays a major part in their comfort and ultimately bottom-line success. Where SMS bots thrive is they perform their duties in a platform or device feature that customers trust and understand, simply because we are all familiar with it and as mentioned it’s still the most widely used feature on the smartphone.There is no need to sign up to a new application and no need to learn how to use a confusing new interface, the text is text and it is exceptionally straightforward to respond.
3. They’re super helpful
SMS bots are great tools that can be used in every stage of the debt recovery customer journey. Customers can be notified through outbound SMS campaigns where the chatbot will then take over. Chatbots will inform the customers of their circumstances and options. They can have embedded links that can lead them back to website landing pages where the customer can sign up to a customer portal to manage their account at a time convenient to them, or direct them to phone numbers and email addresses for one to one access with agents.‘Manners maketh man’ (or bot in this case) or so said Colin Firth in Kingsman. So programmed bots will thank the customer for their time and effort, which will play an important role to help nurture customers for repeat purchases through a ‘360 degree’ fantastic customer journey experience.They also meet growing customer desire to not need or want to speak to a person. This removes the need to be put on hold, miscommunication and embarrassment.SMS Artificial Intelligence (AI) can also have added technology that will help to scan conversations, picking up keywords and phrases identifying vulnerable customers, so these customers can be directed to the correct support services they need.
The CRS way:
In the spirit of promoting our ethos of ‘A New Breed of DCA’ we are constantly on the lookout for technology that helps us remain customer-centric and we continue to build tools that have the customer journey at the centre of our processes.Like our website (CRiS) and our email (CRiSe) chatbots, our SMS chatbot (named CRiSte) uses its programming to automatically respond to questions text through to our dedicated lines. Launching late 2018 within a year we had doubled the number of customer queries CRiSte could respond to and we aim to double that again by the end of 2020.If a question is unable to be responded to by one of our bots the query is forwarded directly to a qualified team member who picks them up and deals with them.