Every year, Symend conducts consumer research to understand the underlying factors driving billpayer behavior and how service providers, like our clients, can better meet consumers’ evolving needs and demands. This year, we surveyed 2,500 US and Canadian billpayers who are currently behind on bill payments or have been behind in the last six months.
Over the course of the last two years, we’ve seen consumer behavior shift throughout the pandemic into a post-pandemic world, and today, faced by growing financial uncertainty. The fundamentals we rely on and expect in our everyday lives are in flux, in doubt, or gone altogether: a stable economic environment, peace, health, energy, food, employment, travel – the list goes on. Here are the top trends we uncovered through this year’s research.
Up against that backdrop, it’s not entirely surprising to learn that today’s consumers are feeling more anxious than ever—our research saw a 48% increase in consumers reporting that they feel overwhelmed or anxious when they receive messages from service providers. As a service provider, you may see this coming to life through declining consumer engagement metrics, delayed bill payments, or missed payments altogether.
For those billpayers who are behind, if they feel as though they have been treated negatively, 70% have reported that it affects their mental health. The good news is that consumers are looking to their service providers for support, and there are actionable ways to adjust your digital engagement approach to offer that support and drive positive outcomes for your customers and your business.
How service providers can support
Of those surveyed, 82% said that if they are behind on bills, they are more likely to respond to positive, supportive communications than threats to cut them off. But what does support look like to billpayers that are falling behind? Here are a few things they called out:
Flexible payment options
At the very top of the list is providing ways for them to manage those payments through flexible payment options. This is both through self-serve options that consumers will seek out when they know they are falling behind, and what service providers deliver via your customer outreaches. This can also serve as a method to having consumers prioritize your bill with 69% noting that they would prioritize payment when offered flexible payment options, and 59% saying it’s the top thing needed from providers to more easily and confidently manage bill payments.
Share relevant information
When consumers are overwhelmed, it’s understandable that they would look to, and engage with, service providers that provide information that’s personalized to them. Amongst the top things consumers are seeking from their service providers are:
- Knowledge of financial assistance programs (49%)
- Clear explanations of charges (37%)
- Clarity on next steps of actions required (31%)
- Earlier or more timely reminders (26%)
- Deadlines or a sense of urgency (22%)
When communicating, your consumers are looking for concise, relevant information, but really, what they’re seeking is helpful support during a stressful time.
Offer a personalized touch
Finally, consider the experience you’re providing across all of your available channels. During times of financial uncertainty, the option to speak to a real person, if needed, is what 48% of billpayers need from service providers. While your service team is likely equipped with the information needed to provide deeply personalized experiences, that experience should extend across your digital channels as well. To do this, however, requires a deep understanding of consumers’ underlying motivations.
The opportunity ahead
The importance of personalization cannot be overstated and was clearly observed in this survey. Understanding what options to provide, when to provide those options, and on what channels they are best received, and then performing this at scale, helps service providers unlock successful customer relationships now and well into the future. Download Symend’s 2023 report to learn even more about what’s driving billpayer behavior and start your personalization journey today: Download now.
Download our 2023 consumer report, Decoding Billpayer Behavior, to discover more about what’s driving consumer behavior.