Today, consumers rate virtually everything and everyone on the worldwide web, and the reputation associated with a company’s name has become an important part of the purchasing decision. Therefore, companies are well advised to work actively on their image in order to win new customers and retain existing ones. However, this only seems to apply until a payment problem occurs. Because already in the first reminder to the late payer, threatening scenarios are often built up, which undo all the previous effort in reputation management. This can be avoided through correct wording, tonality and the use of appropriate communication tools and channels. The receivables management platform developed by atriga optimises communication with defaulting customers by using comprehensive control algorithms and modern marketing strategies, combined with applicable research results from the fields of behavioural research, behavioural economics, psychology and sociology.
The Dos and Don’ts in communicating with defaulting customers
“You haven’t paid!”. Even this brief but quite typical statement in many reminders implies an accusation that automatically provokes a defensive attitude in customers. But that’s not all: many reminders in the commercial dunning processes of companies are also full of formalisms, paragraphs and legal jargon. They create unnecessary pressure that is simply overwhelming for the late payer, and above all convey arrogance and bossiness. On its receivable’s management platform, atriga shows how to do it right: with well-formulated texts that convey messages that are clear and understandable for everyone in a friendly and customer-oriented manner. These are linked informatively with various alternative actions and concrete offers of help and payment for the late payer. In this way, the customer is picked up exactly where he or she is at the moment.
Sense and purpose of an escalatory approach
For special types of debtors, a short and appreciative reminder is enough to get them to pay. Experience shows that a subsequent, significant inflow of money already occurs after the first reminder, for example by e-mail, SMS or messenger service, the good old reminder letter or an intelligent combination of the various communication elements. Likewise, the demand for instalment payments increases after the first contact. Thus, the group of defaulting customers is becoming more and more narrow, and atriga’s escalatory strategy is paying off: Whereas in the first process phases the various communication channels were linked to form a comprehensive dialogue offer for the defaulter, the customer communication journey is now followed by the increasing personalisation of the reminder communication with each reaction of the customer, in accordance with the communication processes preferred by him or her.
Each channel fulfils its specific tasks in this target-oriented communication: Whether it is the postal letter, which is clearly distinguished from digital means of communication by its haptics, appearance and effect, or the purely web-based customer information centre, which provides a comprehensive self-service offer for a specific target group. Through their own specifications, atriga mandates can control customer retention and ensure which customers are worth winning back by means of credit checks and scoring. And this is done in a very targeted manner both in the course of the commercial dunning procedure and in the context of the subsequent collection procedure.
Analysis process for dunning letters
Together with a renowned communications expert, atriga has now developed a test procedure for dunning letters in the commercial dunning process. Clients of atriga and those who would like to become clients can have their reminder letters evaluated in a comprehensive analysis process by specialists and respondent surveys. Christoph Ruoff, Managing Director of atriga, explains: “The basis is the systematic questioning of a group of test persons as to how the structure and different forms affect them. In addition, all those in the company who are directly or indirectly involved in the dunning process are included in the evaluation process, in addition to the departments, for example, the customer advisory and service departments.
Based on the responses, our cooperation partner has developed a procedure with which we can objectively evaluate and sustainably optimise dunning letters. As a result, this has a positive effect on the reputation of the respective company, the number of queries and the willingness of defaulting customers to pay. There are different strategic goals that can be linked to the specific structure of dunning communication. The results help us to propose the optimal strategy to our clients. This is then made available technically, if desired by the client, through our white-label solution for the commercial dunning process. The interdisciplinary cooperation with a number of renowned experts is part of our strategy to not only maintain atriga’s development lead, but to constantly expand it, always for the benefit of our clients”.