Customer-centric collections: How to identify consumer preferences

According to Business Insider: “There have never been more ways for consumers to pay than there are now.” As consumers have more and more options available, they have developed preferences for how they like to shop and pay. And these preferences extend all the way to how they like to communicate with companies collecting the money that they owe.

In our recent guide to executing an effective omnichannel collections strategy, we discussed the importance of using an omnichannel collections strategy to engage with consumers in the way that they’re most likely to positively respond to.

But how do you go about identifying their preferences in the first place?

How to find out consumer preferences

1. Ask your customers

Sometimes the most obvious answers are the ones we overlook, but the fact is surveys can be an incredibly efficient and thorough way for businesses to gain access to the exact data they are looking for.

2. Consumer data

Though you may not have been using it before, every interaction you’ve had with a customer will paint a picture of their preferences. The more interactions you have with a consumer, the clearer that picture will become. 

3. Segment your customers

With the consumer data you’ve got, it can then be invaluable to start categorising your customers into segments. For example, by demographic factors, type of debt, credit score, and payment method. In fact, you can find out more about segmenting your customers in our blog on the topic.

4. Assess other business functions

This can be incredibly useful to identify trends across different consumer groups. For example, there might be existing data about how customers in certain age groups interact with the business. You can then add that to your data pool.

6 ways responding to consumer preferences can improve outcomes

1. Providing a tailored experience to increase customer satisfaction

While many consumers are up to date on recent payments and communications technology, there are still plenty of consumers who do not fall into that category. Sometimes, they just need to talk to someone who can listen and work with them to help find a solution. Providing plenty of options for communication means they can pick the method that works best for them and will ensure their needs are met.

2. Increasing success rates by going straight to the channel that is best for the customer

Contacting customers on the channel they use most often and are most comfortable with is vital to success rates. A study by Salesforce, ‘The State of the Connected Customer’, found that 83% of all customers still expect immediate interaction with a human agent when they need it – so it’s clear the human approach should always be factored into your collections strategy.

3. Enabling seamless channel switching

Taking an omnichannel approach to communications means you can switch to a different channel if you’re not seeing the best results, or if new customer preference data suggests you would get a better response when using a different method of communication.

4. Enabling the collection and storing of data in real time

Imagine you’re talking to someone on the phone, but you get an update that a colleague has just emailed them about this particular issue. Or they’re calling to find out whether their response by post has been received, and you can see on the system it has been.

By being able to update and access data about the different communications in real time, your strategy from customer to customer can continuously evolve, meaning everyone is up to date at the same time.

5. Providing customer service with a human element for those who prefer that

A human approach has also been found to be much preferred in circumstances that require complex and specialised agents, namely, in situations involving a complex problem that needs explaining or cases involving more vulnerable customers.

This means that, while automation and self-service digital channels can be extremely useful for speeding up processes, the human approach of customer service is still very much in demand – and this will increasingly be the case as the cost of living crisis takes hold.

If your agents are freed up by only having to speak to those customers who want a human interaction, or whose circumstances require it, they can spend more time with those customers and provide a more personalised, compassionate approach.

6. Saving time and reducing agent workload

Ultimately, if you want to increase collections and speed up processes, it’s important to communicate with consumers in the way they prefer. Get straight to the crux of the matter in the way they’re most likely to respond to, and you’ll not only resolve situations with speed and ease, but also create positive experiences with your brand – leading to increased brand loyalty down the line.   

It’s time to get personal

Because we know collections is often not your core business, at Sigma Connected, we’ve created our Collections Ecosystem to help organisations just like yours take a different approach to collections.

Whether you need support across the full collections lifecycle, or at specific pain points, we’ll help you structure a strategy that works to your strengths.

To find out more about how you can start to identify your customers’ preferences and reach out to them in the way they prefer, get in touch with our friendly team for more information here.  


Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

Get connected