We started with a simple idea – send an SMS to Customers with a web link, that directs them to a web page so they can pay their bill.

We believed if it was quick and easy, people would be more likely to pay their bills.  We created SmartCollect so that customers could be in control of the payment, by responding to an SMS in order to authorise the payment. We thought that this was the simplest, least friction way for customers to pay their bills.

It made sense, but we quickly found that many Enterprises that have a web page to take payments don’t work well on a mobile phone.  Though the payment page may have worked OK on a laptop on wifi, they loaded very slowly on a phone, or simply were broken on little phone screen. So our simple idea evolved to also creating a payment portal, one that worked on all screens of all sizes, on all mobile phones, and one that loaded blindingly fast.  We found that every extra second of page load time meant 5% of people giving up.

Then we realised in the Collections environment, customers would like to set up payment plans. (and this also needed to be done on a mobile phone). We enhanced SmartCollect so that according to the Clients configuration and the Customers details, customers needed away to setup up plans for themselves. We spent a year working on the customer experience, refining it so that it worked on all screen sizes and customers could intuitively set plans up themselves.

Then we realised, in the UK that as part of setting up payment plan, customers needed to go through an affordability assessment, using the Standard Financial Statement Income and Expenditure form.  Every Client had a different view of the SFS, so we made the questions completely configurable per Client requirements. And again, we made this work blindingly fast, on small screens, removing as much inconvenience and friction from the process through user experience testing.

Then we looked at usage and saw that when customers have the ability to self serve – they will do it 24/7, 7 days of the week. Your portal needs to be 99.99% available, that 10 minutes of maintenance you do means a lost customer payment, a customer who is likely never to bother going to your payment portal ever again. So we designed our infrastructure and architected our software so that it was reliable enough to meet this high availability requirement.

What next? We have been trialling how chatbots play a part in customer engagement, finding out what really works, beyond the hype. We understand 2 way SMS conversations, but chatbots are nuanced .

So why is SmartCollect not just a payment portal?

– it’s designed so that Customers don’t drop out, because of frustrations with small screens and slow page loading.

– it has campaign tools built into it so you can SMS and email your clients to drive them to self serve

– customers can setup payment plans and complete income and expenditure affordability assessments – completely configured to Client requirements

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