Treating Your Collection Letter Like a Marketing Piece
The most difficult part of a debt collector’s job is establishing a positive connection with the consumer they are collecting from. Establishing this connection is essential to increasing conversion rates. One of the most overlooked ways to build a relationship with customers is the collection letter.
In order to receive payment from your customers, you need your collection letter to work. A collection letter, when crafted with marketing principles in mind, can help improve the way your customers view their relationship with you and result in increased conversion rates.
Treat Your Customers Like People
Genuine interest and a personal touch go a long way business. Trust is built through positive experience, and positive experience is created through personal interactions. From the beginning of the process, it is important to address your customers by name (not a number) and offer your name as well. A good collections letter will be the right combination of care and straightforwardness. When creating a collections letter, it is important to remember that the person receiving the letter is a customer. Satisfied customers whose issues are resolved will tell four to six other people about their experience. That’s significant word-of-mouth for your business! Best of all, you get your money—without alienating a customer.
Listen to Customer Feedback
Listening to customer feedback – good, bad, and ugly – is just as important to the collection process as it is to any marketing campaign. In order to find the best way to reach out to your customers and make positive and personal connections with them, listen to what they are telling you. When your customers have had their account issues resolved, ask them for feedback about the experience and your collection letters. One easy way to receive feedback is surveys. Surveys can be distributed via email, text message, social media, or by phone. Once you receive feedback, analyze it, and determine what influence it should have on your collections model.
Consider Your Design
Design is important in successful collection letters. Keep your design positive, simple and straightforward, focusing on your message and your intent. Collections letters that are wordy and confusing will have as little impact as marketing fliers that are text-heavy. Customers should be able to know – at a glance – the purpose of your letter, the action you are asking them to take, and how they can easily resolve their account issues. When crafting a collections letter, consider design elements such as text placement, font and font size, and typography. Even a black-and-white collections letter can be visually appealing, making it quick to read and simple to understand. A well-designed collections letter will help your customer to easily find or remember important details. Remember – everything you do to improve customer experience and simplify the payment process contributes to better conversion rates.
Communicate Clearly and Consistently
Like a good marketing plan, an effective collections plan needs to be clear and consistent. Form a marketing standpoint, the call to action will become more and more urgent as the date of the sale or limited time offer gets closer. Likewise, the call to action in a collections letter should become more urgent as the final deadline for payment approaches. The best way to do this in your appeals is to establish a timeline for the collection process, and let the consumer know consistently throughout the timeline that the situation is getting more serious and that overdue accounts need to be paid. The system can be as simple as a series of phone calls followed or accompanied by collection letters, each one with a more serious tone than the one before. The final collection letter should be the firmest. Each letter should clearly give an exact date for payment and what action will be taken if that date passes without payment.
Spend Time Crafting Your Collection Letter
Like every other piece of your business and especially your marketing, collection letters should be thoughtfully crafted and should retain the voice and character of your business. To avoid shoddily written collection letters, draft several versions ahead of time and show them to your attorney and trusted business colleagues. Remember, you may have to send at least three different letters at different times, including a final call to action. If you put in the time and effort to draft thoughtful collection letters ahead of time, you will be prepared with an effective, genuine, and thoughtful collection letter.
Don’t Think of It as A Collection Letter
If you think of your collection letter as a marketing piece from the beginning, your mindset will be in the right place. You are selling something: the desire to pay the debt owed to your business. You are marketing the collection part of your business and your willingness to do things the right way. Sell that notion. Use a firm but personal touch, keep it brief, design thoughtfully, and prepare ahead of time. This will increase the success ratio of your collection letters and improve your conversion rates. Good luck!