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Why Treating Customers With Empathy Drives Engagement and Repayment

treating customers with empathy

Financial wellness is top of mind now more than ever. Well before the global pandemic hit, many were struggling to keep up with their bills. The shutdowns and economic implications following the spread of COVID-19 left massive amounts of people un- or under-employed. Almost overnight, companies had to learn how to respond rapidly to changing customer circumstances while balancing the implications of accumulating unpaid debt.

A new approach

Until recently, traditional collection techniques have been the primary method for reconciling customer accounts. The problem with these techniques is that they only have one goal: collect the balance from the customer as fast as possible. What they neglect to acknowledge is the psychological impact the process can have on the customer, as well as the relationship with their institution or service provider.

Symend recently surveyed over 1,000 Americans confirming that 76% of consumers are more willing to pay off debt if the experience is friendly and personalized. Symend’s in-house research confirms that customers treated with empathy are more likely to engage positively and repay outstanding bills. In contrast, customers that are treated with predatory, aggressive tactics are more likely to disengage and avoid repayment.

Empathy is the strongest customer currency when it comes to debt repayment and long-term financial wellness. Empathy transforms collections by providing at-risk customers with a dignified, relationship-based approach to repaying debt, while offering self-treatment tools that help them reconcile bills and avoid long-term penalties.

Top companies are avoiding finance-driven collection models and embracing a customer-centric approach driven by empathy because they know that maintaining positive brand sentiment is the key to lasting success and lifetime value creation. In today’s world, brands can be damaged very quickly and the results of building lasting customers relationships far outweigh near-term gains from collection efforts. By leveraging the science behind customer engagement, companies can take a powerful new approach to helping at-risk customers.

Keep conversations productive

Previously, customers with past-due accounts endured “legacy” collection practices including automated calls, letters, emails and texts. It is also likely that they would experience service disconnection or be sent to collection agencies. These approaches usually end up being unproductive, particularly under today’s circumstances, when many customers simply don’t have the ability to make payments and may be behind on bills for the first time in their lives. Legacy collections practices are not sensitive to unique circumstances and leave people feeling like they have failed, even when the situation is out of their control.

Customers experiencing these techniques will often feel mistreated and see the conversation as one-sided. Symend empowers customers to engage in dialogue, creating opportunities for institutions and providers to resolve complaints and retain customers.

Damaged relationships stemming from collection practices are a poor business trade-off. Even the simplest customer lifetime value calculations show that customer churn leads to massive losses and, in today’s market, strong retention practices are essential. Customer retention will always be cheaper than acquisition, and strict collection processes are likely to drive churn and reduce brand loyalty – which is why today’s leading companies leverage empathy and science-driven engagement strategies to address collections.

Know your customers really, really well

Empathy and science-driven engagement create state of the art debt repayment practices because treating at-risk customers with empathy through kindness and understanding ultimately helps achieve collection objectives. Afterall, what we care about most is people.

Taking the time to get to know your customers so that you can reduce their pain points, rather than contributing to them, will facilitate the fastest (and healthiest) path to payment. Behavioral science and advanced technology are the key enablers because they create consistent and efficient customer communication at scale.

Retain to gain

Optimizing debt repayment is crucial to financial success and customer retention in the long term. Turning away from legacy collection practices is an important decision because it empowers customers to take ownership of their situation while maintaining a positive relationship with the brands they use. In uncertain times, empathy truly is the customer currency that pays off.

Want to learn more about how Symend’s science-driven engagement technology can help you better engage and retain customers? Contact Sales: