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Why The Phone Call is Dead for Millennials

2018 could be the year we see the death of the phone as a viable tool for receivables teams targeting millennials. A major lender shared that their effectiveness for outbound calls to the millennial segment had reached an all-time low. With almost all calls landing on mobiles, and millennials screening numbers, they expect outbound calls will continue to invariably fail.

This does not come as a surprise.

Three years ago in my TEDx talk about the consumer obsession with the smartphone I referred to the fact that millennials use phone calls less than once a week. The global shift to messaging as the new way to communicate was obvious in 2015 already.

In 2018 voice is all but gone.* But the next generation will see an even bigger shift.

Here’s a personal story to illustrate what’s on the way from the next generation of consumers. A few months ago my wife and I decided to get something for our 18-years old niece’s birthdays. I emailed her with our idea but did not receive an answer. So I called her, we had a good chat, and at the end of the call my niece said:

“By the way uncle Steve, you do know it’s rude to phone?”

I rarely struggle for something to say, but this had me stumped. Why I asked?

“Well” she explained. “If you phone me I have no choice but to answer straight away. I might be busy. If I let it go to voicemail, that’s a hassle retrieving the message and then calling you back. If, however you send me an SMS or IM, I can answer when it’s convenient for me – either immediately or later on.”

There is a fascinating logic to this and when you combine this with the obsessive usage of the smartphone as a touch device (an average of over 2,600 touches a day in the UK according to The Economist) then you can see how the inbound phone call is all but dead in for those below the age of 30.

What’s the payment once you reach the young person

Millennials are also often referred to as the ‘now’ generation. They want to get things out of the way with minimal friction. It’s especially true for payments. From slick ‘a few clicks’ e-Commerce to contactless offline transactions, young people are used to faster payments. This is why your payments process should be frictionless and user-friendly.

Digital receivables management addresses both of these behavioural changes: Firstly, by sending reminders via SMS and email the millennial can engage through the channel of their choice. Secondly, linking through to simple, mobile optimised payment pages delivers the same frictionless payment experience.

But what about the older generation which is still the majority? Well, this is where multiple communication scenarios come in. A digitised and automated receivables process can deliver multiple communication streams into which you can cluster customers by any criteria. collectAI also sends print letters with the option to scan a QR code to increase your data quality. So you could have SMS and email focused scenarios for millennials and layer in calls and letters for older age groups .**

2018 may see the final nail in the coffin of the outbound voice call for millennials. If you employ ‘smart receivables’ you can embrace the change and increase your collection rates, reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction as well.

Feel free to reach out to us to learn how.


*excludes Facetime

**Only 18% of organisations in Europe have digitised their receivables process (EOS/Kantar 2017)