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Why Contact Intelligence Is Essential for Effective Outbound Enterprise Communications

woman on phone

An interview with Mitchell Young, Vice President , Diversified Markets, TransUnion

Effective outbound communications have long been a challenge for enterprises. With approximately ninety percent of outbound calls not answered or going to the wrong party; consumer contact data constantly changing; and new regulations frequently regarded as limiting debt collection calls, businesses need help to increase right-party contact rates and improve customer engagement.

We asked Mitchell Young, Vice President, Diversified Markets, TransUnion, how to design an effective contact strategy based on accurate and current contact intelligence. Here’s what he said.

How are contact strategies changing for outbound enterprise communications today?

We see contactability, knowing how and when a customer is most likely to respond, as probably the most significant shift happening in the industry today. Historically, there were limited channels to reach a consumer, so in the past, a contact strategy was to call continuously and persistently. Dials were cheap, and we would keep calling until we resolved the debt.

That's shifting due to:

  • CFPB’s Regulation F dialing limits
  • Technologies enabling more channels and making them more accessible
  • Consumer preferences driving the use of additional channels, and
  • People not trusting trust phone calls anymore

For all these reasons, we see a shift from a persistent strategy to an engagement strategy.

What is an engagement strategy?

An engagement strategy is one where you use multiple channels to meet a consumer where they are. You’re letting them set the pace to interact with you in a way that they're most comfortable. It’s not the anonymous communication of yesterday. Instead, following an engagement strategy means providing the consumer a means to respond on their terms by letting them self-select their response method – whether via email, text, phone call, portal – or maybe all of those.

How does an enterprise fit this into its overall contact strategy?

To do a contact strategy well, you need three things –actionable and current contact intelligence, a strategy that leverages that intelligence, and the technology to enable it. Contact intelligence is the phone scores, email scores, and behavioral insights around phones and emails that allow a business to call, text, or email well. While it seems easy to make calls and send emails, it’s actually quite complicated.

Tell us why this is so complicated.

For example, for enterprises that send emails, you can quickly end up with reputation damage on your IP and may end up on a blacklist, which can cause your emails to be blocked or sent to a recipient’s spam folder—or even prevent your mail server from sending the emails at all. Emailing at will is not a great strategy and is not favorable for getting your message in front of the consumer.

How can an enterprise make its email campaigns more successful?

To maximize the performance of your campaigns, we recommend a three-step approach:

  1. Check the validity of each email to reduce hard bounces.
  2. Verify that an email is associated with your intended consumer.
  3. Focus your efforts on email addresses that are highly active.

We have email intelligence that generically separates the “good” email addresses from “bad” ones to determine which ones the enterprise should use versus which ones they should not. Interestingly, on average, we see that approximately fifty percent of emails an enterprise uses are good and usable. But on the flip side, the other fifty percent are not.

What about phones – can you tell good numbers from bad numbers?

Yes, the same goes for phone numbers. We have similar phone scores that derive proprietary usage insights from our caller ID network to tell us which phone numbers are in use and which are not. We all know you can't reach somebody on a phone that's not in use. Yet, a significant percentage of outbound dials made by agencies go to phones that are disconnected or not in use. We can help an enterprise focus on the best phone numbers, enabling them to improve their right-party contact rates by an average of 25%* - and get to all the dollars they’re looking to collect.

How does TransUnion scoring improve an enterprise’s efficiency and effectiveness?

There are a lot of intelligence and behavioral signals available for businesses. We’ve taken that information and put it into meaningful and easy-to-use scores that help businesses quickly identify the good from the bad. We are seeing excellent efficacy against collectability based on those scores.

Is there more to a contact strategy than knowing who or who not to contact?

Yes - a well-executed contact strategy is more than just determining which accounts to contact, especially as the industry shifts to meet consumers’ expectations. It’s essential to think about communication holistically. For example, an email might not get a response, but an email followed by a phone call may. Or an email followed by a text may get that response - and those used in conjunction become very powerful. This is familiar terrain - marketers have been doing this for ages, and companies doing consumer outreach have been doing this for ages. It's just new terrain in the collection agency world.

So, there’s a definitive difference between execution and executing well?

Absolutely, we aim to help our customers avoid the significant pitfalls that can exist if they don't orchestrate an effective multichannel outbound digital strategy. With  actionable and current intelligence, it is possible to have a good contact strategy in this new world of an engagement model. And that's the work we're really excited about today at TransUnion.

*User results may vary.

Make every call, text, and email count. 


Do you have questions? Our team is ready to help.