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Cardholders Want to Communicate Digitally, But Issuers Are Still Getting Up to Speed

August 13, 2018

(London, UK): Hold the phone: Email is cardholders’ most preferred means to communicate with their credit card providers, but concerns remain before issuers can deliver a consistent customer experience in that channel. Email topped the list of all channels, including phone calls manned by agents, live chat, mobile apps and SMS, according to Auriemma Consulting Group’s recent issue of UK Cardbeat.

Nearly four-in-ten cardholders prefer email when communicating with card issuers. Despite this consumer preference to communicate with card issuers by email (and with younger cardholders ages 18-34 also preferring live chat or mobile apps), issuers had not—until this year—invested as heavily into the channels for servicing or Collections-related activities. At a recent meeting of Auriemma’s Collections and Recoveries Roundtable in London, Collections executives discussed how digital channels could offer new opportunities to refresh contact strategies.

When weighing particular channel investments, issuers must analyse the performance of each potential channel and determine the contact methodology and channel mix that creates the best experience and increases an agent or collector’s success. Issuers are exploring how different channels can augment contact rates and payment rehabilitation within collections. For example, some executives are in the process of testing email’s efficacy by sending default notices digitally along with a conventional letter.

“The industry knows that email could be a highly successful contact channel, particularly for those in collections who tend to close off contact at some point in the lifecycle,” says Louis Stevens, Director of UK Industry Roundtables. “There is opportunity to develop email as a priority channel instead of a supplementary one. Many collections operations today are centered around a call-and-collect model, which could be less effective as cardholders skew toward preferring digital communication.”

However, integrating digital channels into the collections process can be a challenge, due to legacy system restrictions and painstaking approval processes. Currently, only 20% of Roundtable members offer live chat within the collections process, and further progress has been limited by the prioritisation of other controls, such as conversation transcript recording.

Despite the momentum for email, it is important that issuers maintain an excellent experience in the phone channel, which is the second-most preferred. One-third of customers prefer speaking with a representative on the phone, which is starkly higher than the 3% who prefer an automated service, such as an IVR.

Even though consumers have a strong preference for migrating more routine activities to digital channels, the phone is still the centerpiece for more in-depth and complicated interactions. This is evidenced in the Card Collections and Recoveries Roundtable Benchmark Study, which reports that the average handle time for calls has increased 11% since January 2018.

“Consumers don’t mind using self-service or automated options for simple tasks, such as due date inquiries,” says Stevens. “But for now, cardholders still call when they need a more impactful and in-depth experience.”

Survey Methodology

This study was conducted online within the UK by an independent field service provider on behalf of Auriemma in March-April 2018, among 800 adult credit cardholders. The number of interviews completed is sufficient to allow for statistical significance testing between sub-groups at the 95% confidence level ± 5%, unless otherwise noted. The purpose of the research was not disclosed nor did the respondents know the criteria for qualification.

About UK Card Collections and Recovery Roundtable 

Auriemma Consulting Group runs a series of information sharing and benchmarking Roundtable groups designed for executives and managers in collections and recovery. These Roundtables combine executive meetings, industry-leading operational benchmarking, and peer group surveys to help participants identify tools, technologies, and strategies to offer best-in-class customer experience at all touch points. For information on membership, contact Louis Stevens at louis.stevens@acg.net.

About Auriemma Consulting Group

For more than 30 years, Auriemma’s mission has been to empower clients with authoritative data and actionable insights. Our team comprises recognised experts in four primary areas: operational effectiveness, consumer research, co-brand partnerships, and corporate finance. Our business intelligence and advisory services give clients access to the data, expertise and tools they need to navigate an increasingly complex environment and maximise their performance. Auriemma serves the consumer financial services ecosystem from our offices in London and New York City. For more information, visit us at www.acg.net or call +44 (0) 2076-290075.