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Symend Survey: 28% of Americans Late on Bills Due to Coronavirus

Symend survey about late payment

Leader in Customer Engagement Solutions Discovers That More Than Half of Consumers Falling Behind Don’t Have the Money to Stay Up to Date

CALGARY, Alberta —June 30, 2020 — Symend, a leading customer engagement technology designed to better engage, treat and retain financially at-risk customers, today announced results of a consumer survey focused on debts and bill payment during  the global coronavirus pandemic.

More than 1,000 American consumers were surveyed during May 2020, and the findings revealed that 28% of Americans have been late paying a bill due to the pandemic, and 38% have reported being in collections. Over half (51%) of Americans state they have been late to pay a bill because they don’t have the money, while 33% say they have been late because they are trying to save as much money as possible.

While 39% of Americans say they have not been affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting COVID-19 disease, 11% say it will take them two months to get back on their feet financially. Another 11% say it will take three months, and 10% say it will take them more than six months.

Americans are experiencing a variety of financial pressures as the pandemic wears on, including:

  • Debt collection efforts – 22% of consumers report having been in collections during the pandemic – 17% have heard from a bill collector within the last week, 16% have heard from bill collectors within the last month, and 27% haven’t heard from a bill collector in more than a year. Some 20% report increasing debt collection calls, while 7% said collection calls are increasing “more than ever before.”
  • Financial pressures – 34% of Americans report a reduction in monthly pay since the onset of the pandemic, 15% report losing their jobs, and 14% say they’ve had one bill deferred during this time. Some 61% of Americans report that none of their bills are currently being deferred, but 41% wish that all of their bills could be deferred, with 20% stating that they would like bill deferral for either one or three months.
  • Personal disruptions – 46% report the pandemic has forced them to change their daily routine. Some 7% have a relative sick with COVID-19, have become sick themselves (5%), or have lost a relative (5%) to the disease. In addition, 5% report their losing their housing, and 4% have lost their car.

The broad and deep disruption associated with the pandemic has had a significant financial impact, and “paying the bills” is top-of-mind. Feedback about how companies are handling late payment issues during the pandemic is mixed. While 34% say that companies have been very understanding and willing to work with them, and 28% say that companies have given them “a bit” more flexibility, 15% of Americans report that firms are demanding on-time payment, while threatening consumers with late fees or service disconnection.

Generally speaking, consumers want to pay their bills in a timely manner, and many report that they need a relatively short period of time to catch up. Of those Americans who are still late on bill payments, most expect to be able to pay them off soon, as 16% say they will pay them off this week, 13% say within the next few weeks, and 12% say they plan to pay in a month.

Today’s leading organizations are taking actions that are sympathetic to the plight of customers experiencing financial distress. Many are embracing solutions from Symend, which enables enterprise business-to-consumer (B2C) companies – especially banking, telco and utility firms – to strategically engage with and empower at-risk customers to pay their bills and recover financially.

Science-based solutions come together in the form of Symend’s scalable white-label software technology, which combines behavioral science, AI and machine learning, as well as workflow and campaign automation tools, to deliver personalized engagement plans that reduce write-offs and protect a company’s brand through positive relationships. The technology can rapidly address changes to customer behavior using dynamic, science-based strategies to respond to events, such as the current pandemic, where customers are directly impacted and require empathy and understanding of their unique situation.

“It is no secret that consumers are experiencing personal and financial hardships during the pandemic,” said Hanif Joshaghani, Co-Founder and CEO of Symend. “Our research shows that consumers’ desire to catch up on past-due bills stands out as a real positive, and companies are willing to work with their customers through programs like Keep Americans Connected. As programs like this end, our solution is perfectly poised to assist in this scenario, because we enable companies to engage and treat at-risk customers in respectful, humane and fair ways, while giving them the breathing room they need.”

About Symend

Symend is scientifically transforming the debt recovery industry by treating individuals with empathy and dignity at the time they need it most. Combining behavioral science with advanced AI, machine learning and analytics capabilities, Symend’s engagement technology enables companies to develop positive, individualized treatment programs that result in higher cure rates and reduced costs while building relationships with customers and lifelong value for their brands. Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Calgary, with offices in Toronto and Denver, Symend is privately held. For more information, please visit https://symend.com/ or follow the company on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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Hannah Ruark