In June 2020, our Digital Officer in Germany, Christopher, was making his regular customer feedback review when he read an interesting comment. A customer had delivered a five-star satisfaction evaluation after setting up and committing to a payment plan. In his evaluation, he mentioned that the Covid-19 situation had made him start using contactless mobile payments more frequently and that he would like to use the same payment method for his payments to Hoist Finance. Christopher informed the Digital Customer Experience team, and after conducting a fast market study, the team identified the strong progression of digital wallets (such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.) in most of Hoist Finance's markets, already representing 25 per cent of the online payment market. Three months later it was made available to Hoist Finance customers across Europe.
In 2019, the focus was about setting the technological and architectural foundation for online services, based on the real time omni-channel experience, and a standard approach across all markets.
This year, 2020, was about putting the customer at the center. By measuring and analysing customer satisfaction and feedback, using advanced web-analytics to work on micro-journey adjustments and tests, conducting customer surveys, interviews and market analyses, we have positioned the customer at the heart of every decision and journey designs.
We strive for a smooth and simple customer journey. This is why we have been through a significant consolidation and rework of our market websites, taking the opportunity to revise our user experience and user interface. Some of the updates included a simpler customer journey, more fitting tone of voice as well as clearer messaging and offering. Our customers have appreciated the results, as our analytical indicators confirm a 50 per cent reduction in bounce rate on our websites, and an impressive 18 per cent improvement in conversion rate.
By the end of 2020, 20 per cent of Hoist Finance NPL collection (unsecured and digitasable; collection made on customers eligible to self-service channels) now come from digital self-service channels. The development is still led by Hoist Finance UK that is achieving a 33 per cent digital collection rate.
Preparing the next steps
We have in a few of our markets successfully tested Digital Only strategies, where human outbound dialling becomes the last resort solution. By leaving the choice of channel to our customers, we have in some cases achieved up to 60 per cent self-service ratios, a 30 per cent increase in customer satisfaction, and a significant reduction in direct cost to collect. We believe that this is the future of debt collection, and we are driving it at full speed.
By truly committing to our vision of being "By your side", we have also tested new incentive offerings called “You Pay, We Pay”, which indicates that if the customer pays one Euro, Hoist Finance will contribute with one Euro as well. In this way, we can be of real and tangible support to our customers by speeding up the payment plan.
We have also tested various AI systems, selected the places where they make sense, economically and for the customer experience. Kai, our chatbot in the UK, automatically responds to 65 per cent of our customer’s requests, bringing a continuous 24/7 support to the 25 per cent of our customers who use our online services.
Changing the industry by enhancing the value proposition to customers
Giving power to the customer is the promise of our digital strategy, and this must be reflected in their experience, including relevant information, autonomy and flexibility.
For this reason, we have decided to give our customers the opportunity to share their financial information through an open banking solution, in order to facilitate our relationship with them, but also to provide them added flexibility and autonomy. This is done through our customer support platform, allowing our customers to assess their own unique financial situation. This includes guidance and support on how to improve their finances, how to reduce expenses by comparing utility providers, identifying social benefits they are entitled to, and finally receive a proposed repayment schedule based on their unique financial situation. This was deployed in the UK in November 2020, and in France in early 2021.