< Back To Blog

Symend 2023 Consumer Report reveals late billpayers need more empathy from service providers in times of financial uncertainty

consumer behavior report

Calgary, Alberta – September, 28, 2023 – Symend, the leader in Behavioral Engagement TechnologyTM, today released key findings from its 2023 Consumer Report: Decoding Billpayer Behavior. The report provides insights on consumers’ payment priorities, the barriers to customer engagement and payment, and the impact of service providers’ actions during times of financial uncertainty. Among the most significant findings in the 2023 Consumer Report is the need for service providers to demonstrate empathy, flexibility, and personalized support to help their customers during times of financial instability and to build a trusted and loyal customer base. The complete report is available for download here

“In today’s economic environment, our research shows billpayers are being forced to prioritize demands for their money, time, and energy more than ever before, and this has led them to feel anxious and overwhelmed. As a result, the way service providers treat their customers during these times of financial uncertainty can have long-term consequences on their businesses. Our research finds the old, tiring ways of bombarding customers with messages and notifications aren’t working,” says Hanif Joshaghani, CEO and co-founder at Symend. “Now is the time for service providers to think differently about customer engagement and risk management in this new world of rapid and continuous change.”

Why consumers are falling behind 

According to Symend’s 2023 Consumer Report, customers today have more demands for their time, energy, and money than ever before. Almost three-quarters (74%) of consumers say they are struggling with competing financial obligations while 50% say their financial priorities are often changing, up from 43% in 2022. The research also finds decision-making is becoming harder for consumers during this period of financial instability, with 82% saying future risk or uncertainty makes it more difficult for them to make effective and quick financial decisions – a 24% increase from 2022.  

When consumers are falling behind on a bill, 38% say this is due to only having enough money to make a partial payment but not a full payment. This is followed closely by 36% putting payments off because of competing financial priorities and 36% not having the money to pay any portion of the bill. 

Symend’s 2023 Consumer Report also shows that the barriers to engagement increase when consumers are behind in payment, with 71% of consumers feeling overwhelmed and anxious when they receive messages and notifications from their service providers – up from 48% in 2022. 

Struggling consumers expect support from service providers beyond core offerings 

During uncertain times, consumers often rely on their service providers not only for their core offerings but also for guidance and support to navigate financial challenges, finds Symend’s 2023 Consumer Report. The research shows 79% of consumers expect more support from their provider during periods of financial uncertainty. The top three specific items consumers need from their service providers are: information on flexible payment options (59%); the option to speak to a real person if needed (49%); and knowledge of financial assistance programs available in their area (48%). 

Negative treatment of consumers has long-term consequences 

The 2023 Consumer Report from Symend reveals that a consumer’s perception of negative treatment can have significant downstream implications for a company’s customer retention and long-term growth potential. The research finds that poor treatment by a service provider affects the mental health of 70% of consumers, and if a consumer perceives they have been treated negatively by their service provider, there are consequences: 

  • 87% are less likely to purchase additional products or services  
  • 85% are more likely to avoid contact with the service provider 
  • 80% are more likely to avoid opening or acting on messages 
  • 78% are more likely to consider switching 
  • 75% are more likely to complain about their service provider 

Empathy and personalization make a difference 

Symend’s 2023 Consumer Report shows that when consumers are falling behind on bills, it is a critical time for service providers to demonstrate empathy and support. 82% of consumers say that if they are behind, they are more likely to respond to positive, supportive communications rather than threats to have their service cut off, while 43% of those who have had access to a product or service revoked say they will likely leave their service provider. 

The report also reveals consumers value personalized service when they are late paying a bill. Their most valued aspects of personalized service are having the flexibility to choose how they want to manage their outstanding balance (60%); receiving solutions that fit their specific needs (54%); feeling like a valued customer (52%); and being acknowledged based on their loyalty / time as a customer (51%). 69% will prioritize payment of a bill that offers flexible payment options. 

“Each customer is up against a unique set of challenges when they fall behind or struggle with bill payments. While that may seem personal and too complex to address at scale, the reality is that customers are holding service providers accountable for delivering the support and information they need, in a way that is personalized to them. Our research shows that if personalized support and empathy aren’t part of the package, customers are ready to give their business to a different service provider to meet their needs,” adds Joshaghani. 

About Symend’s 2023 Consumer Report 

In June/July 2023, Symend conducted online interviews of 2,501 consumers in the U.S. and Canada who were currently behind or have been behind in payment during the last six months, for financial, telecom, or utility service provider bills. The Symend 2023 Consumer Report highlights how billpayers are prioritizing payments. The chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 2.0 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample. The complete report can be downloaded for free here

About Symend

Symend (SUH-MEND) creates lifelong customers through digital experiences that are hyper-personalized based on the science behind consumer behavior. Through its over five billion behavioral science-based attributes, dynamic iteration powered by AI and ML, and more than 96M meaningful outcomes delivered to clients, Symend empowers businesses to tailor customer engagement at the human level. Founded in 2016, Symend is headquartered in Calgary and privately held with global operations across Canada, the United States, Latin America and the United Kingdom. For more information about Symend visit: https://symend.com/


Media Relations



Media Relations