Press Enter to Search
Efficient, Compelling Communication With Baby Boomers is All About Choice

Efficient, Compelling Communication With Baby Boomers is All About Choice

 

Professional communication, especially about sensitive financial matters, requires planning, positioning, and analysis. Those best at building positive relationships understand how both they and the person with whom they’re speaking process information. Credibility, honesty, and empathy all matter. And when one tries to compel another into action, setting expectations and customizing the approach according to the audience can raise chances of success significantly.

There are many ways to make decisions about tailoring your message and delivery, but a good framework with which to start is the different communication preferences between generations. When it comes to financial services in 2018, we actively engage with three of them regularly: Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millenials. Each of these generations has been defined by myriad social influences and events that shape their understanding of the world, and the ways in which they communicate.

Baby Boomers, for example, had front-row seats to the Cold War, Post-War Boom, Apollo Moon Landings and Woodstock. Perhaps more importantly, research shows they built the economy in which we live. Their parents, just coming from World War II, took advantage of the GI bill that made them more highly-educated than any generation before. That meant their children were raised in a very uniform culture, and had a more professional environment for work and play than those who preceded them. Baby Boomers watched the advent of subdivisions, and were the first to grow up in those homes.

These factors, followed by several decades of economic growth, have made Baby Boomers perhaps the most optimistic of generations currently in the workforce. No economic downturn truly affected this group until much later in their professional lives. In response, they were the first to apply innovations in computing to corporate America in ways that would help correct those issues. So Baby Boomers see themselves as “tech people,” and liberal in comparison to their parents – Especially when coupled with the counterculture they espoused. To be sure, their views tend to lean conservative compared to Gen Xers and Millenials. But that makes it easy to forget they were the first generation to attempt acceptance of civil rights, and more equal treatment of women. In this cultural context, Baby Boomers are actually a lot more liberal than they get credit for.

So what does all this mean when it comes to effectively communicating with them? Consider first that Baby Boomers have stayed in their positions at work for much longer than any other generation. That means even though those in the workforce today tend to be nearing the end of their careers, job security remains a key motivator for them as a call to action. With retirement a reality, or approaching, they tend to be risk averse ,but willing to make agreements. All of this means that Baby Boomers are more likely to “figure it out” with you once they’re on the phone. Most managers and executives today are Baby Boomers. There is real risk in the choices they make – Not only for themselves, but for their families, businesses, and potential employees.

How do Baby Boomer make those choices? Funny enough, their preferences have a lot to do with choice itself. An experiment at a farmers market may shed some light on the matter: Given the chance to purchase jam from a range of samples, a large group of customers are likely to spend more when fewer choices are presented to them, even though they sample more when a large range of choices are available. Baby Boomers are particularly applicable to this experiment. Too many choices to them means too much risk in making a bad decision, and yet having choice is crucial when it comes to their willingness to engage.

Consider these important tips when it comes to interpersonal communication with Baby Boomers:

  1. Always present choices. Frame your conversation with Baby Boomers in a way that gives them choices – illusory or not.
  2. Limit the complexity of the choice. Simplify the solutions available as much as possible. Doing so inspires confidence in risky decisions.
  3. Offer the opportunity to decline, rather than choose. People accept choices more often when they’re made for them. Give them options, but framing the choice with the use of a default is powerful.

The ultimate goal here is to recognize if you’re overwhelming the person, and avoid it. Overwhelmed consumers tend to make no decisions at all, when both parties would benefit from any kind of choice. Service reps tend to clutter their calls with consequences, laying all the cards on the table, rather than offering simple choices. And truly, that boils down to offering a statement of hope, one to which Baby Boomers respond particularly well.

Boomers are a hopeful generation. They had a hand in making the world a better place for themselves and their kids, and they used innovative means to fix problems that arose during their lives. Showing them they have choices goes a long way. It’s your job to present it to them efficiently, and accurately.

 

Disclaimer: Ontario Systems is a technology company and provides this blog article solely for general informational and marketing purposes. You should not rely on the content of this material for any other purpose or as specific guidance for your company. Ontario Systems’ advice, services, tools and products described herein do not guarantee compliance with any law or industry standard. You are ultimately responsible for your own company’s actions and compliance efforts. Because everyone’s situation is different, you must consult your own attorneys, accountants, and/or other advisors to obtain specific advice on your company’s compliance, legal, tax, regulatory and/or other business needs. Despite Ontario Systems’ efforts to provide current and up-to-date information, you need to recognize that the information contained herein may become outdated quickly and may contain errors and/or other inaccuracies.

© 2018 Ontario Systems, LLC. All rights reserved. Information contained in this document is subject to change. Reproduction of this publication is not permitted without the express permission of Ontario Systems, LLC.

Use These 3 Tactics in Your Government Receivables Program to Satisfy Balances with Behavioral Economics

Use These 3 Tactics in Your Government Receivables Program to Satisfy Balances with Behavioral Economics

 

Walk into any Costco and you will learn two important lessons:

  1. Oreos can (and do) come in enormous packages.
  2. Costco is designed as a fully-integrated selling machine.

From the parking lot to the bakery, the Costco Store is designed to entice you to buy. And yet, you never hear people complaining about that tactic. In fact, Costco is one of the country’s most-admired companies.

Persuasion as a discipline is often derided as a skill for politicians and salesmen. But in the last few decades, researchers around the world have addressed the science of decision-making, learning how decisions are made based on far more than empty words and sales tactics. These principles of persuasion – called behavioral economics – can in fact be applied in many different ways.

Costco, for example, has used this science of decision-making in three major parts of their business model:

  1. Design
  2. Process
  3. People

First, Costco has designed their stores to make their customers more likely to see the big picture. Fewer signs in the store, for example, encourage customers to wander. And when customers wander, they find products they don’t expect to see, and then buy more.

Second, Costco has mastered the art of building processes. 90% of the company’s revenue is generated by membership subscription. And subscription is driven by high standards in quality, and low prices. The company breaks just above even on merchandise to ensure you keep paying dues.

Third, Costco staff are highly trained, well-motivated employees who go out of their way to help. They are paid much more than their colleagues at other retailers. As a result, they stay at their jobs much longer, and report higher levels of satisfaction.

These principles can of course be applied easily to effective government receivables. Efficiency requires you to interface properly with your constituents, work their accounts through the right process, and back it up with expertise to educate and satisfy. A thoughtful approach, based on facts, and coupled with little regard for common industry practices can yield big results.

But what specific tactics do behavioral economics teach us about whether a person pays or doesn’t? Three tactics can apply particularly well in government operations:

1. Loss Aversion

In general, consumers prefer to avoid losses over taking gains. For example, which of these two choices would you prefer:

  1. Receive $2 cash back for a $100 grocery purchase
  2. Pay $98 instead of $100

Most would prefer A over B, studies show. This is part of the reason why tax intercepts have become such a popular tool in convincing debtors to pay their victim restitution, child support and more: The thought of loss – losing a tax return in this case – is very persuasive.

 

2. Anchoring

The pain of a large balance due is more easily managed in the context of time. Divulging the relative size of payment can be intimidating, so when communicating large balances, soften your approach by offering to delay full payment in a reasonable fashion. For example:

“Your balance is $900, but today I only want to resolve $200.”

Perception is key here: Your debtors are more likely to resolve their balances if the expectation of full payment isn’t the primary focus.

 

3. Choice Pattern Management

The outcome of a response is tied closely to the volume and complexity of choices. When communicating with a constituent, your agents should always:

  1. Give the debtor options for payment
  2. Listen or watch for someone being overwhelmed
  3. Simplify choices to avoid asking too much

People overwhelmed by complicated decision-making simply avoid the choice in the first place. But affording the debtor some choice in the matter can avert a feeling of enforcement. It’s a balancing act – But one that can pay off in the end.

 

These are just a few practical steps that can help you resolve balances more efficiently, and with less conflict. We’ve already seen how behavioral economics, when used properly, can make payment less painful, and more satisfying. It’s time that their use gains some traction in government receivables.

 

Disclaimer: Ontario Systems is a technology company and provides this blog article solely for general informational and marketing purposes. You should not rely on the content of this material for any other purpose or as specific guidance for your company. Ontario Systems’ advice, services, tools and products described herein do not guarantee compliance with any law or industry standard. You are ultimately responsible for your own company’s actions and compliance efforts. Because everyone’s situation is different, you must consult your own attorneys, accountants, and/or other advisors to obtain specific advice on your company’s compliance, legal, tax, regulatory and/or other business needs. Despite Ontario Systems’ efforts to provide current and up-to-date information, you need to recognize that the information contained herein may become outdated quickly and may contain errors and/or other inaccuracies.

© 2017 Ontario Systems, LLC. All rights reserved. Information contained in this document is subject to change. Reproduction of this publication is not permitted without the express permission of Ontario Systems, LLC.

5 Ways to Enhance Your Victim Restitution for Direct Community Benefit

 

Lately, victim restitution has become a higher priority for many of those working in government receivables, as judges order it more and more often, and as media attention makes the practice an often-talked-about political issue locally. As the practice becomes more commonplace, so have stories told of outlier situations involving an unpaid victim, and the fire surrounding the office tasked with collecting their dues. As a result, victim restitution has become an issue of deserved justice for communities affected by crime.

But local, county, or state governments like yours are often left wondering how to keep up with new demand. How do you go about updating your victim restitution program to meet your community’s needs, and comply with judicial orders? Start with these five practices:

 

  1. Increase contacts

Few government offices use sophisticated telephony products to reach out to their contacts. One or two people on staff are usually tasked with calling between 40 and 50 numbers a day, by hand, when opportunity exists to touch many more. By using technology like IVR or automated text messaging to keep contacts up-to-date, while managing incoming payments, government offices stand a chance to collect much more than manual processes often yield.

2.   Make payment easier

Consumers have shown, increasingly, that payment made electronically – by phone or over the web – is a preferred method over cash or paper check. Yet many government agencies and offices still don’t adequately meet that need, some even lacking the technology to accept credit card payments. More commonly, they don’t have a web portal available to enable payment through the internet. Still more don’t integrate that technology to provide total balances to those making payments. New technology can help your office interface better, and make the process more efficient and mobile-friendly.

3.   Enhance data accuracy

Many times, government offices have trouble reaching both the debtor for payment, and the victim for disbursement, because their addresses, phone numbers and other means of contact become outdated. That stems from a typical process whereby an office or agency receives a huge amount of contact information that’s impossible to work through with any expediency. By the time they get to an accurate contact, it might already have dried up. Purchasing data strategically, from a variety of vendors, and regularly scrubbing it for inaccuracies can make a big difference in its usefulness.

4.   Work the right contacts at the right time

As your contacts age, it’s less and less likely they’ll yield a return. The way you work accounts matters as much as the information they contain. Government offices and their agencies tend to treat accounts of any age the same. That’s why you need to make multiple calls on a new account – with fresh information – rather than trying to contact every account a uniform number of times, using the same channels.

5.   Invest in training

Many cities, counties and states don’t train their account service reps to handle the human elements inherent in receivables. Experience is seldom considered a factor, and technical knowledge of a system is given higher priority than good practices for communication. Victim restitution programs would be well-served to consider practices honed in commercial ARM agencies, which train account reps to handle tough conversations, and serve those communities with which they’re tasked to fund.

 

Remember, restitution is more than just a basic administrative function: Victims of crime deserve the justice that your program brings them. They’re more than just contacts in your system – They’re your neighbors, friends and family. Victim restitution is a direct way to benefit those who are hurt, and recover losses that affect their communities.

 

Disclaimer: Ontario Systems is a technology company and provides this blog article solely for general informational and marketing purposes. You should not rely on the content of this material for any other purpose or as specific guidance for your company. Ontario Systems’ advice, services, tools and products described herein do not guarantee compliance with any law or industry standard. You are ultimately responsible for your own company’s actions and compliance efforts. Because everyone’s situation is different, you must consult your own attorneys, accountants, and/or other advisors to obtain specific advice on your company’s compliance, legal, tax, regulatory and/or other business needs. Despite Ontario Systems’ efforts to provide current and up-to-date information, you need to recognize that the information contained herein may become outdated quickly and may contain errors and/or other inaccuracies. 

© 2017 Ontario Systems, LLC. All rights reserved. Information contained in this document is subject to change. Reproduction of this publication is not permitted without the express permission of Ontario Systems, LLC.