It’s not a coincidence that you find millennials to be the hardest generation to collect debt from. The ever-changing, fast-paced context they’ve been brought to makes them behave, communicate, work, and think differently than older generations. This reality makes millennials understand and interact with debt in a unique way.
Why Millenials are so hard to collect debt from?
The three main reasons you are finding it hard to collect from millennials are:
The Covid-19 pandemic has sent 52% of millennials back to their parent's houses. While after the lockdown these numbers dropped, before the pandemic there were already 32% of adults between 18-34 living with their parents. Added to this, the low wages and high rental prices make it a common solution to move in with friends.
Having to collect debt from someone without an address creates an extra step to the process, as traditional methods like an address check won’t do the work.
At the same time, only 37% of American households still have landlines, according to Statista. Millennials have been the first generation to make the decision to get rid of landlines in their homes to replace them with their smartphones, and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act is more restrictive for debt collectors when they call mobile phones than when they call landlines.
Millennials lived through the Great Recession and the financial meltdown of 2007–2008 as young adults. As a result, these occasions significantly influenced how they perceive the world.
Furthermore, it should not be surprising that millennials are wary of the financial sector as a whole given that banks and other financial organizations have received a lot of the blame for the crash.
Millennials are the first digitally native generation. They have experienced firsthand the paradigmatic shift brought by the internet, and have been strong users of all technological advancements for the past 20-25 years.
Smartphones are an extension of their arms and social media of their mouths, so it makes sense that they expect companies to seamlessly interact with them through the channels they are more comfortable with.
While many debt collection agencies have been fast in adopting these new communication channels to their repertoire, they miss the point of how to use them correctly. They are not leveraging all the new interaction possibilities they open, not being able to speak to millennials in their same language, and less to offer a high-quality mobile experience.
5 tips to collect debt from Millennials
1. Keep it clear
As a financial institution-reluctant generation that fears and struggles to understand debt, it's critical that you take the time to fully explain how everything works to your clients, going over every last detail and outlining everyone's obligations.
It is simpler to collect a debt when there is open communication and trust than when there is uncertainty and anxiety.
2. Use a personalized and compassionate approach
Before approaching a millennial about an unpaid debt, take some time to research the issue at hand, including any underlying economic conditions that might have contributed to their inability or unwillingness to pay back the loaned amount.
Being informed will help you develop tailored strategies for collecting the money owed without alienating your debtor. This is something especially important with this generation who often value relationships over transactions and may be more likely than other generations to respond positively if approached respectfully and not treated like just another number in a long list of debtors.
When collectors allude to the borrower's personal circumstances and show that they understand what they are going through, millennials will feel as though they've built the type of relationship necessary to make any effort to repay.
3. Offer Flexible Payment Options
Millennials are much more likely to pay off their debts if given the option of flexible payment plans that they can customize according to their financial situation and budget.
Offering multiple payment options, like installment payments or a lump sum settlement, could make paying back debt easier for them and thus increase your chances of getting paid in full.
4. Use technology to your advantage
To effectively collect debt from millennials, leverage technology whenever possible. Automate messages, email notifications, or even social media messaging.
Creating an omnichannel communication system with automation, reminders, and conversational flows is a great way of staying connected with younger consumers who are used to online communication tools rather than talking on the phone.
5. Build a good mobile experience
The broad adoption of mobile commerce, mobile wallets, mobile banking, and mobile payments, has placed smartphones at the core of millennials’ financial lives. It’s crucial for any debt collection strategy to take into consideration having a robust mobile-oriented interface and communication platform.
Just to understand the importance that mobile should have in your operations if you want to collect from millennials, here are some statistics:
- Millennials are responsible for 54% of all online purchases
- 63% of them complete transactions using smartphones
- 48% of millennials prefer to use mobile devices to pay
Offering a seamless mobile experience, where they can navigate freely through your site or app, view their account balances, receive updates about their account status, make payments easily, and chat with support in real-time via social media or text messages, is a great way of increasing your collections on millennials.
Collecting debt from millennials is all about convenience: approaching them through their preferred communication channels, offering them flexibility, and a seamless mobile support and payment experience. Take this into account before approaching your next millennial debtor.