Tagged in customer retention


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

November 20, 2018


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

4 Reasons Why Delinquency Root Cause Analysis Matters

August 15, 2018


Most companies are quick to resolve payment issues on a case-by-case basis but solving these issues more holistically through delinquency root cause analysis is more effective and efficient in the long-run. This proactive approach to accounts receivable management isolates the most common delinquency factors, so businesses can take the necessary steps in resolving them. While delinquency root cause analysis solves some of your immediate accounts receivable issues, it can also improve other crucial areas of your business, like customer satisfaction and resource allocation.

  1. Solve billing issues for good

You can’t control whether a customer has the funds to pay you, but you can address internally-driven accounts receivable management issues that impede speedy repayment like late bills, unclear terms, or hard-to-read invoices. These simple but often overlooked factors are very common and often cited by customers. These internal issues can push your bill to the bottom of a customer’s to do list and decrease your wallet share, especially if resolution requires a call to your customer service department. It’s simple, really: The easier you make it for customers to understand what they owe and when it’s due, the more likely they are to pay you back on-time and in full.

  1. Improve Customer Satisfaction Levels

Once your delinquency troubles are remedied, you can begin focusing on other relationship-building initiatives for your customers. The process it takes to discover and implement the changes discussed in #1 can hold more value for you than just its immediate revenue outcomes. To uncover the friction points impeding payment, most companies conduct customer satisfaction surveys and leverage technology to identify patterns in customer speech and behavior, like their most frequently asked questions. As you learn more about your customers, you’ll discover more than just what it takes to resolve payments quicker.  You’ll better understand the demographic makeup of your customer base and what attributes matter most to keep them happy, which you can use to improve your offerings and service performance.

  1. Increase Growth

When you take the time to analyze and address customer issues, you’re making an investment in growing your business. The short-term goal may be to get more money in your pocket quicker, but it requires a long-term companion goal of improving customer loyalty. The more satisfied a customer is with your products and services, the more likely they are to pay their bill or recommend you to friends and family. Reoccurring billing confusion and long hold times do not beget loyalty but demonstrating that you understand the customer’s viewpoint, respect their time, and are actively trying to resolve their issue quickly and permanently does.

  1. Reduce Operational Costs

Tracking down payments can be a major drain on your personnel and answering the same invoice questions can slow down your customer service center. Reducing the number of delinquencies in a long-term, strategic manner increases efficiency while reducing spend in some operational areas over time. This frees up cash to invest in other areas of your business, like multi-channel support to drive even higher customer satisfaction or marketing to acquire new customers. It’s one of the reasons why this approach is recommended by forward-thinking first party outsourcing vendors and customer service agencies.

If you’re still trying to cure issues on a case-by-case basis, you could be wasting a lot of time and resources. Figuring out that’s preventing on-time payments is only one use of delinquency root cause analysis. This process is a great starting point for building a culture of continuous improvement for your organization. By taking advantage of delinquency root cause analysis, you’re able to learn more about reoccurring issues and quickly identify the most effective and impactful remedies for your business’ and customers’ unique needs.


The Best Ways to Gather Customer Feedback with Social Listening

January 30, 2018


Gathering customer feedback is essential to building stronger relationships with your customers. One important feedback avenue to consider is social listening, where you monitor online conversations to understand what customers are saying about your company and products or services.

Not only is social listening cost-effective when done well, but outlets like Twitter and Facebook are where customers engage with each other to share and talk through their brand experiences. Even if you offer customer surveys or have a contact us form, social listening offers up more unique and detailed information simply because online is where customers feel the most comfortable being open and honest.

You don’t need a strong social presence—or even profiles in some cases—to reap many of the benefits of social listening. You do, however, need to know where and how to start listening in order to gather feedback.

  1. Review your @mentions

If you have social media profiles, @mentions are your most direct online customer feedback. This is when someone uses the “@” symbol followed by a user handle. @mentions are now used across all major social media platforms.  Think of @mentions as active feedback and hashtags more as passive feedback.

Many customers will use hashtags to vent about frustrating experiences, but if someone @mentions you, it’s a clear sign that they’re serious about getting heard. If you don’t have a handle, look at the results for your top competitors and learn from their successes and mistakes.

If you use a social dashboard like HootSuite or TweetDeck, you’ll want to set up a stream for just your @mentions. This will make the research process easier to manage, especially if you get dozens of @mentions a day or don’t have a dedicated social media manager.

  1. Follow the hashtags

A hashtag is any word or phrase with the “#” symbol in front of it—no spaces. The “#” converts the phrase into a link, creating a digital conversation or thread. Any post containing the hashtag will be pulled into that corresponding thread.

The downside to hashtags is that unless they’re paired with an @mention or they’re using your company name as the hashtag itself, you’re left sifting through potentially hundreds of tweets and posts to find that one about you. Instead, use hashtags to understand what’s on the top of all customers’ minds right now. Compare their frustrations and kudos with your service model and figure out where you stand.

Start with common phrases that your customers are most likely to use like #customerservice, #callcenter, #badcustomerservice, and the popular #onholdwith. You might be tempted to invest time checking out ones like #cx, but it’s less likely that enough consumers know those terms to make monitoring them useful.

  1. Ask for the feedback you need

Twitter and Facebook offer polling options for posts, allowing you to ask for direct feedback on items that really matter to you. Many B2C companies leverage polling to ask about preferred colors and insights on new products, often prior to launch. The same can be done for customer service. You could ask customers if they prefer chat or text options, giving you insight on how to best spend your dollars and what you can expect for usage to staff that channel accordingly.

  1. Stay alert with Google

Google Alerts, setting up email notifications for when new results for selected words or phrases show up in Google Search, are not a new concept. Yet, I’m always surprised when companies either aren’t using them at all or aren’t using the capability fully.

Many companies will set up an alert for their company name, but customers don’t always refer to your business by name. Consider setting up Google alerts for your brand’s acronyms, CEO, product names, and in some cases even your tagline or website domain. Also consider customer misspellings of your brand name, which you can easily find in Google Analytics under Acquisition and Organic Search.

  1. Don’t forget about social recruiting platforms

When we think of social media, the usual suspects come to mind: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Yelp if you’re in the food or hospitality industry. Usually overlooked are recruitment platforms like Glassdoor. What your employees have to say about your company can help make sense of customer feedback and shine light on issues from those with an insider perspective.

Social listening opens additional feedback channels with engaged, vocal customers. Whether you’re active on social media or not, you can still leverage the technology to glean customer insights about your customer service, products, or more to deliver more powerful and meaningful customer experiences.