February 15, 2022
It’s widely acknowledged that technology has permanently altered the way consumers want to interact and engage. It’s no longer just what you say but how you communicate that makes a difference. If you’re not reaching consumers how they want, when they want, with options that empower them to take control of their own financial journey, then you could be reducing your payment effectiveness—and increasing your costs.
Obtaining the best payments outcomes means you should consider the demographic of the user with whom you want to connect. Matching the communication channel to the consumer’s demographic can dramatically improve your ability to connect and obtain results.
For example, a recent “State of Credit” report by Experian shows that Gen Xers have on average the highest levels of credit card, mortgage, and non-mortgage debt relative to any other generation. Data also shows that this demographic segment prefers modern communications channels such as email, cell phone, and text, but they don’t want a “hard sell.” If you’re relying on print and traditional phone calls to try to collect from this group, you’re hindering your success rate.
But this doesn’t mean print is obsolete. Silent Generation and Baby Boomers still value traditional forms of communication like print and phone calls. Reaching them through digital-only methods might inhibit their willingness to engage.
A flexible, customizable, OmniChannel engagement approach is clearly the way forward. And communications should go beyond just presenting information to offering ways for consumers to manage their obligations and transact. To do this, the most forward-looking companies are adding payment portals to their process.
A portal offers multiple options—and advantages—that a traditional payments process doesn’t support. Below are six benefits to incorporating a payment portal as part of your platform.
1. Consumer Preference and Convenience
Today, many consumers prefer to pay online, at their convenience, without human interaction. By offering a payment portal for those who prefer this method of interaction, you will increase your customer service and cash collections. Consumers can access information through multiple communication channels and follow a simple set of steps to make a payment.
An online payment portal (especially when used with a URL or mobile tag provided in a printed letter) also creates a convenient and simple way for a consumer to convert their interactions from print to digital. Or, when used with an e-mail, a simple “click” brings the consumer to the screen where they can customize their payment preference, empowering them to access account balances, verify payments and update their accounts on their schedules—and without staff intervention more rapidly.
The most advanced portals offer a fully branded, custom website that is designed to match a receivables management firm’s existing online presence. Many third-party agencies appreciate being able to create a unique portal to match each credit grantor’s web presence. A customized interface keeps consumers from feeling they are being handed off to a separate organization. Instead, they stay focused on making their payment.
An online payment portal is available 24/7/365 – even when your office is closed. This “always open” online availability extends your business hours and your ability to receive payments. If a consumer wants to make a payment in the middle of the night, you will be able to collect it.
The physical space/real estate fees, employee wages and benefits, and general operating expenses of print and call centers can add up. Many of these costs are reduced or eliminated when payments are transacted through an online portal. Since the portal does not require human intervention, you can reduce the staff costs associated with processing payments manually or by phone. The system verifies the payment is authorized, processes it, and updates the account. And, with digital communications costing significantly less than traditional print mailings, you can generate real savings by going electronic.
5. Integration with your Technology Platform
Flexibility and interoperability are hallmarks of a leading platform. Disconnected or poorly integrated portals can end up harming the consumer experience – and costing more to manage. Look for a solution that already has partnerships with every major collection software platform, and the availability of a team of integration experts that possess a deep understanding of the wide range of industry systems. A quick and less costly integration leads to a more optimal ROI.
6. Security Certifications and Disaster Recovery Plans
Security is critical. Payment portals handle sensitive consumer data and should thus meet or exceed the certification requirements for:
As well, multiple, geographically dispersed facilities will ensure your data and portal is available 24/7/365. Safe and secure systems help prevent financial and reputational risk.
With the wide range of consumer preferences and ways to interact, integrating a next generation payment portal into your print and mail process is a way to ensure you’re most effectively reaching your consumers on their terms, while improving your results – and your bottom line.