Customer centricity in payments and collections must be business as usual
The commercial need for a customer experience strategy that both fits your customers’ preferences and aligns to business capabilities, budgets and resources can create a continual operational struggle.
Recently, a combination of technology advancements, a rapid-moving, regulated industry and increasing levels of customer service standards have spurred telecoms and mobile providers to work equally hard to keep existing customers happy and attract new ones.
The customer experience strategy must now be designed and then personalised in a number of ways, based on customer demographics, spend levels and behaviour patterns. ‘Doing right’ by the customer is a necessity in 2016, says Grant de Leeuw, general manager Europe,TALKINGTECH.
One factor which significantly affects retention rates is bills and payments. In the past, this part of customer engagement has been viewed as a ‘hygiene factor’, with account communications a formal, dry part of the customer experience. One truth is that processes and communications around bills and payments are vital – they’re the most frequent type of engagement that any operator will have with customers.
Companies that use tailored, self-service payment channels, such as Pay by SMS or online payments, are changing how consumers view billing and collections interactions by giving them more control and choice.
Brands that can introduce systems to predict and analyse customers’ payment preferences are in a better position to adapt and stay ahead of market forces. They’re increasingly able to influence retention rates, building a better, customer-focused reputation while increasing customer satisfaction which can be directly measured using metrics like NPS (Net Promoter Score).
In 2014 Telefonica UK’s O2 wanted to provide a new and convenient payment channel to customers who had fallen into arrears. This would help to increase collections payments at an earlier stage, reducing time and investment on the operator’s side and improve customer sentiment. To support O2, TALKINGTECH devised and launched a new, fully Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant collections process – ‘Pay by SMS’. This payment and collections service enables customers to use pre-registered payment cards to pay outstanding bills by simply replying “YES” with the last four digits of their card to an O2 SMS asking if they wish to pay. Since the introduction of the service the results are:
- 43% of eligible customers entering collections have a registered card and 23% of them pay by SMS
- Customers with registered cards are five times more likely to pay than non-registered customers
- 4% more customers removed from collections within three days
- 7% reduction in collections costs which have been reinvested to help vulnerable customers
This project has now evolved into an ongoing part of the customer experience ‘business as usual’ workflows. O2 are now experimenting with mobile payment portals that can provide further choice for customers. O2 is using the right communications channels to complement innovative payment technologies. It’s offering customers choice, learning more about their preferences over time to inform their personalisation and experience strategy – and collecting revenue earlier on in the customer journey. Their success proves it’s possible to make life better for customers and the business itself.
The author of this blog is Grant de Leeuw, general manager Europe, TALKINGTECH.
About the Author:
He is responsible for the commercial and financial management of TALKINGTECH across Europe. Since joining TALKINGTECH in 2012 he has overseen the deployment of a digital collection solution at Vodafone UK, which reportedly delivered an 80% reduction in OPEX and a six-fold increase in cash collected. Grant has a Bachelor of Business Studies (BBS) from the University of Massey University, New Zealand.
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