Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Friday, August 21, 2020

How Effective Are SMS Collection Messages?

So, I often get asked how effective SMS texting is for collections?

I tell my collection colleagues that normally, we see a 20-30% response rate in first SMS messages for 3rd party collections.  But those are just abstract numbers ... let me use a real world example of what that actually means.

Last week we launched a whitelabeled SMS text program for a 1st party collection program, and naturally, because these were early credit cycle customers, we reasonably estimated a high level of return – so we only sent an initial 553 text messages over a period of two and a half hours for four staff members, staggering the outbound text messages every 16 seconds.

We literally buried our team in responses -- 112 inbound calls, that totalled 251 talk time minutes for the team over 3 hours.  Plus another 41 inbound response texts and 24 inbound response emails.  We turned it off because the team cried ‘uncle’.  

That’s a 31% response rate in 3 hours.  By the next day it was around 45% with overnight text responses, inbound calls and emails.

I’ve talked to a number of operations managers and call center managers at conferences and this is what I talk about – just because you *can* text 12,000 customers, doesn’t mean you *should*.  Plan a paced work flow, both for outbound messages, and for manpower being able to manage inbound responses – in real time.   If you don't have the technology, if you outsource your SMS communications have a conversation with your vendor about work flow.  Better, give your collection team the internal tools to send SMS messages at a pace you can handle, and to respond with individual personalized SMS messages to consumers as the responses come in.

If you think about it on a personal level, if you get a text on your cell phone, your little red blinky light goes off and you respond in a few seconds -- and you expect a timely response – not in 2-3 days, not in 2-3 hours, you expect a response in 2-3 minutes, tops.  So as an operations manager managing a collection team, you should plan for your team to be able to do that. 

We gave our team a couple days to catch up, and this week, we’re only sending 150 texts a day.

Want to talk about texting, and work flow around it?  Drop me an email.

Thanks kindly,

Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
KINGSTON Data & Credit
Cambridge, Ontario

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