Customer Retention: How Great Customer Service Can Retain Past Due Customers


As costs to acquire new customers increase, it has become even more important for businesses to retain customers, and that includes those with delinquent accounts. Going past due shouldn’t negate their future revenue potential once they’re back in good standing. But a bad collections experience can push them towards your competitors and impact your reputation. Understanding the factors that play into your customers’ satisfaction, especially during the nerve-wracking collections process, is essential for developing a customer retention strategy that’s right for you. Strengthening quality control is the perfect place to start.

Usually when people think about quality control in relation to collections, they think of regulatory compliance, but quality control goes beyond ensuring adherence to rules and regulations. It’s a commitment to providing a quality customer experience regardless of account balance or how many days past due. There are endless ways that quality control feeds into customer retention strategies, but here are a few to get you started.

  1. Change the way customers think about collections

Being in debt is a major stressor and getting a collections call is scary. Poor customer service during the collections process, like vague answers or demanding language, compounds fear and sours their impression of you, however positive it was before. Taking a financial counselor approach to resolving debt is a great way to subvert their expectations about collections. By helping consumers understand the pros and cons of different repayment options and helping them stay on track with payments, you can show your customers that caring about them is more than rhetoric. Be the helpful hand with customer care solutions that help pull consumers out from under the weight of debt and win big loyalty points.

  1. Improve your online reputation

Collection agencies and collection departments get a bad rap, especially online. When a strange number pops up on someone’s phone, they tend to look it up online before answering or they send it to voicemail. If their search results show many negative comments about rude agents and long holds, the chances of them calling you back significantly decrease. That extra time across multiple customer segments can translate into additional hits to your cash flow and compound problems for the consumer. There will always be unsatisfied customers, but having equally positive reviews about helpful, knowledgeable staff can balance out the negative ones and prompt consumers to return the call rather than ignore it.

  1. Leverage data to prevent delinquencies

A major component of quality control is data analytics. Beyond improving internal processes, data can also be used to prevent delinquencies by analyzing traits of delinquent customers. That information can then be used to proactively reach out to customers who are at risk of missing payments. A reminder call about upcoming payments adds a personal touch to your customer lifecycle and encourages the consumer to address any issues they might have in making that payment. It’s also a way to help avoid collection disputes later while also keeping your cash flow a little more predictable and steadier.

  1. Establish shared goals and expectations to improve agent performance

Customer satisfaction is inherently a qualitative measurement—are your customers happy or not? But, quality control allows you measure that satisfaction with actionable, qualitative data. The data you gather largely depends on what challenges you’re trying to address, but the options are vast. There’s call recording, call monitoring, voice capture technology, and workforce management tools that can analyze call volumes to help you better staff to manage spikes, just to name a few. How you gather that data depends on your budget. With more advanced ways of measuring satisfaction (and measuring more precisely), you can expand your definition of agent performance, reset expectations, and create a more customer-centered collections process.

  1. Discover new and meaningful training opportunities

The lessons gleaned from customer satisfaction and quality control measurements should carry over into your training program—both new hire training and refresher training. Perhaps there’s language you need to change in your scripts, or you want to pull samples of good and bad calls to set clear expectations from the outset. Maybe some of your existing agents need additional training on a specific topic to increase performance. Quality control brings those areas of improvement to light.

Debt collection is a crucial part of the customer lifecycle. High-quality service and compliance during the collections process helps retain those customers after the delinquency is resolved, using the collections process to strengthen a customer relationship rather than tarnish it.

Want to reap the benefits of quality control but not sure you can take on the extra task of managing the program yourself? Consider outsourcing your collection of accounts receivable. Whether your struggle with early-stage or late-stage collections, a revenue management partner like Windham Professionals can provide you all the benefits of high-performing quality control initiatives without breaking your budget.


Featured Image: Shutterstock/Olivier Le Moal

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