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Matt Edmunds

In planning Halloween costumes with my kids last week, I was reminded that I am getting old and how much the world is changing. My costumes used to be just about monsters and ghosts – a scary mask or a sheet with eye holes and I was good to go. Now, to really get the response my kids are looking for, ghosts and monsters won’t cut it.

Today, it’s characters from Monster High. Or for my son, it’s some Ninjago character. I don’t even know what that is let alone how to come up with that costume.

The point is more sophistication is needed today to get desired results. We can see this in the evolution of debt collection strategies as well.  If your text strategy, for example, is still about one-way message blasts, you are the ghost being left behind by Katniss and Ninjago. You’re not going to get great results. You need to evolve.

Collections professionals have started to recognize this: consumers are demanding more interaction than ever before, and organizations need to keep up. Much like the evolution of automated voice communications that once only blasted one-way messages and now handle complex two-way dialogues, text has evolved. Truly interactive mobile messaging provides the ability to interact real-time with a consumer to: resolve a problem, chat with an agent, take or approve a payment, relay balance/account information and respond to a customer’s needs to ensure resolution and satisfaction. It’s proving to provide significant lift in collections results.

A simple one-way text alert to drive a callback or remind someone of a payment date can be 10-20 times more effective than a voice or email message blast in collections. However, that strategy doesn’t always drive the desired result. Why? Because it does not engage the customer in a conversation. On Halloween, it seems that ghosts, witches, and monsters can easily be overlooked. You need to be original and engaging so that you aren’t ignored.

Think about your own personal texting. When you’re sending an SMS to another person to ask them to do something, is that typically a one-way blast with no response, or is it a two-way dialogue which ultimately ends in an action or perhaps a live phone call?  Debt collection is no different. Today, you must give customers and debtors choices to generate an interaction. Some of the largest and most effective collections organizations are using these strategies today:

  • Personalized text “chat” where an agent can communicate directly with a customer/debtor

  • Receipt of payments completely through the SMS channel

  • A secure mobile website for customers and debtors to see information about their accounts and amount due

  • Options for customers and debtors to switch immediately from the SMS channel to a live phone call with a representative

  • SMS or email confirmations of a payment or promise made

And arguably most critical of all, once you interact with your customer via the text channel (or any other channel for that matter), you really should be storing that information and using it in future conversations.  The best collections companies are observing, capturing, and honoring customer and debtor preferences for communications.  This is a differentiating strategy that can build relationships and drive results.  Don’t be scared to be different this Halloween.  Creating text conversations can be a real “treat” when done right.

Matt Edmunds brings 20 years of hands-on industry and operational experience to his role at SoundBite Communications. As the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Contact Center Business Unit, Edmunds leads sales, marketing, services, and product development efforts tailored for these industries. Prior to joining SoundBite, Edmunds was senior vice president of bankcard operations for Outsourcing Solutions, Inc, where he managed all facility, personnel, strategy and operations decisions for four call center sites with 600 full-time employees. In this role, he was a frequent user of SoundBite’s solution. Prior to joining OSI, Edmunds spent almost nine years at Capital One Financial Corporation leading various customer care and collections strategies. Matt Edmunds can be reached at and LinkedIn. Follow him on Twitter – @MattEdmunds10.

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