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The evolving role of service providers in 2023: New research 

billpayer behavior trends

As a service provider, you may already be feeling the shift in the role that you play in consumers’ lives. You’re likely to see customers changing their services or contracts, decreasing levels of consumer engagement, or perhaps even attrition. Perhaps they’re finding ways to streamline their inbox, schedule or expenses, or generally feeling as though they are spinning many plates. It’s natural, even expected, that consumers are finding ways to prioritize the varying demands for their money and time. 

As a company, you have an opportunity to seize the largest slice of their mind and wallet share through hyper-personalization. True hyper-personalization requires a deep-seeded knowledge and understanding of their behaviors, needs and desires that inform their decision-making – otherwise known as behavioral science. In Symend’s 2023 Consumer Report, we dive into how providers can identify customers that may need support, what happens if that support is not received and what support looks like to consumers. Here, we cover some of the highlights. 

Early flags for service providers to offer support

When consumers have identified that resources are tight, or perhaps must prioritize, there are early signals that they may be seeking some more support from their providers. The primary action, accounting for 65% of those surveyed, involves making partial payments. This is followed by 50% making efforts to reduce service costs and 50% contacting service providers for assistance. With these actions in mind, you can begin identifying trends within your customer’s behavior that are signaling an early opportunity to step in with support, demonstrating your commitment to that customer and delighting them with exactly what they’re looking for at a time when they need it most.

Outcomes drive prioritization

Generally, consumers aspire to stay up to date with their bill payments and will look for support and other channels first. In fact, amongst the billpayers surveyed, 69% will prioritize paying a bill that offers flexible payment options. However, when they cannot find that flexibility or support, they find other means to prioritize—one that’s based on outcomes.  

For example, the fear of losing access to their services motivates 65% to prioritize those bills, while 55% are motivated to pay in favor of avoiding late fees. What’s most important here, however, is the opportunity you have to create a positive experience.  

Take for example, a long-tenured customer who is motivated by avoiding late fees. You could note that fees would normally be charged for customers who are late on bill payments, however, as a valued customer—another thing billpayers identified as important right now (52%)—you are waiving those payments to recognize the company-customer relationship. 

service provider support

What if the experience isn’t personalized by the service provider?

Now let’s take that same example but imagine that you did not waive those late fees despite their years of loyalty to your business. In addition to adding on to the burden of debt for your consumer, late fees are cited as the top reason billpayers decide to leave their provider. In fact, 54% will leave due to high late fees, followed closely by 49% leaving if they feel they are treated negatively, and 43% choosing to leave if their services are suspended or revoked.

Attrition factors

And it can snowball. If consumers feel they are treated negatively when they have fallen behind, they will adjust their behavior and interactions with service providers in ways that can impact revenue and customer lifetime value. At the top of the list of actions they will take is that they are less likely to purchase additional products and services at 87%, and 85% are more likely to avoid contact with their provider. For telecommunications providers, as an example, this means they could face resistance when looking to upgrade customers to new devices, new channels, or new plans that add value both for the consumer and the business. 

Impact of negative customer treatment

The good news is that customers are looking to providers for support and 82% noted that they are more likely to respond to positive, supportive communications. Now you understand how to identify customers who may be looking for support, and some downstream impacts on the company-customer relationship when that support is not adequately provided. For more insight into changing consumer behavior and how providers can support them to drive better outcomes for their business and their clients, dive into Symend’s 2023 Consumer Report

Download our 2023 consumer report, Decoding Billpayer Behavior, to discover more about what’s driving consumer behavior.