Billers and firms have the opportunity to increase communication and offer payment flexibility to consumers facing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers across the nation are experiencing varying levels of financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an April 2020 survey by U.S. News & World Report1, more than half (57%) of Americans have financial concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic and more than 25% have experienced either a job loss, furlough, reduced hours or a salary cut during the crisis.
Many consumers are finding it difficult to juggle paying their essential bills and debts. Being considerate of consumers’ personal finances is critical during this time. Here are a few steps you can take to minimize business disruptions while offering payment flexibility for consumers.
1. Communicate early and often.
Be compassionate. Let consumers know you’re aware of challenges they’re experiencing, give a clear statement of what your firm is offering during this time, and provide contact information so consumers can discuss their situation, if needed. You can also link to other resources, like the CDC or IRS websites, so consumers can get more information as the situation progresses.
Early on, we offered our firms the ability to display a system-wide notification to online users informing of adjustments to payment terms along with an invitation to contact customer service with any concerns.
2. Extend payment plans.
Many major lenders and other firms are offering borrowers the opportunity to defer or temporarily suspend payments while they’re experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus. Optionally, you can waive payments for a period of time and extend the repayment period to compensate, giving consumers breathing room and more time to pay.
3. Allow reduced payment amounts for accounts to remain in good standing.
Alternatively, you can temporarily give consumers the option to make lower payments and consider it satisfaction of their obligation. This allows consumers to show a good faith effort to stick to their agreement and helps them avoid losing any settlement agreement or payment arrangement they have in place.
4. Give consumers control over their payment experience.
Allowing flexibility not only gives consumers more control over their payment options, but also frees up agents to speak with consumers who have more urgent concerns. For example, our treatment options allow firms to temporarily accept lower payment amounts while keeping existing agreements in place. Consumers may have dozens of billers to contact, from landlords to insurance agencies to lenders, eliminating the need to contact you saves time and relieves consumers’ financial stress.
Being flexible with consumer payments during times of hardship is critical. Having the right practices and technology in place allows you to quickly and easily extend convenient payment terms, even giving consumers the option to self-service their accounts.
If you have any questions about offering flexible payment options for consumers, get in touch with us. We’re here to help.
1 Beverly Harzog. “COVID-19 Crisis: More Than 25% Have Suffered Setbacks in Income.” U.S. News and World Report. Web. April 23, 2020. https://loans.usnews.com/covid-19-crisis-more-than-25-have-suffered-setbacks-in-income.