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Study: UK consumers prefer email to communicate with card issuers

Email is U.K. cardholders' most preferred means to communicate with their credit card providers, but concerns remain before issuers can deliver a consistent customer experience in that channel. Email topped the list of all channels, including phone calls manned by agents, live chat, mobile apps and SMS, according to Auriemma Consulting Group's recent issue of UK Cardbeat.

Nearly four-in-10 cardholders prefer email when communicating with card issuers. Despite this consumer preference to communicate with card issuers ( younger cardholders ages 18-34 prefer live chat or mobile apps), issuers had not — until this year — invested as heavily into the channels for servicing or collections-related activities. At a recent meeting of Auriemma's Collections and Recoveries Roundtable in London, collections executives discussed how digital channels could offer new opportunities to refresh contact strategies.

When weighing particular channel investments, issuers must analyze the performance of each potential channel and determine the contact methodology and channel mix that creates the best experience and increases an agent or collector's success, according to Auriemma.

Issuers are exploring how different channels can augment contact rates and payment rehabilitation within collections. For example, some executives are in the process of testing email's efficacy by sending default notices digitally along with a conventional letter.

"The industry knows that email could be a highly successful contact channel, particularly for those in collections who tend to close off contact at some point in the lifecycle," Louis Stevens, director of U.K. Industry Roundtables at Auriemma, said in a press release. "There is opportunity to develop email as a priority channel instead of a supplementary one. Many collections operations today are centered around a call-and-collect model, which could be less effective as cardholders skew toward preferring digital communication."

Despite the momentum for email, Auriemma said it is important that issuers maintain an excellent experience in the phone channel, which is the second most preferred. One-third of customers prefer speaking with a representative on the phone, which is starkly higher than the 3 percent who prefer an automated service, such as an IVR.