Pamela Nast

New year, new you?

By Pamela Nast, Director, Clear Choice Consulting

So, it’s all over. The preparations, food, presents and Santa has been and gone. It’s a new year but is it a new you?

We all recognise putting things off until the new year. Going to the gym, looking for a new job and paying bills.

December is often a month where the bills are deferred and money is spent on Christmas. Most companies will struggle to collect money in December and often in January too. A number of consumers will be suffering a financial hangover in January, with some going further into debt in order to buy the associated treats and goodies. The gap between an early December pay day and January pay day can feel like months rather than weeks. Don’t be surprised if people don’t have the money to pay and will again be in defer mode.

With ever increasing rise in costs for businesses, writing off the money isn’t a palatable option. However, going in strong is not the best way to engage. People need help now more than ever. For a number of people being in debt will be a new experience, for a number of reasons. Therefore, getting prepared early with your Q1 strategy is a must.

As providers, we are now also more aware of the mental impacts owing money has on a person. That coupled with “January Blues” can be a potent recipe. Be proud of the support you offer to consumers. Some industries shun being public about how they work with and support their customers who are in financial distress. It’s felt to be a poor public image to even acknowledge that there is debt and that you have a team of people who are dedicated to manage it. Don’t be shy, you should be proud that you work so hard putting measures and teams in place who are ready to help engage and work through financial challenges with your customers.

Definitely make sure it is front and centre on your communications platforms at this time of year. Website, apps, call holding messages, emails, letters, texts and even carrier pigeon if that’s your bag. Make is easy for people to find, use and engage with. The content should be clearly written and the tone used is very important here.

A new year will often mean customers feel that they are starting again. Part of your strategy needs to be a refresher of where things were left at the end of 2022 and where we go next. This can be useful as a scene setter, but also useful as a reminder that the money is still due and that you are there to support and talk to people if they need it. It also works as a reminder for any “won’t pays” that you haven’t forgotten them and you won’t be going away anytime soon.

Therefore, the communications and handling for January needs to be a little bit “Christmas Carol” based. What does the past, present and the future hold?

Why not go one further and offer a new year’s incentive? We know the gym does it, so why don’t you? Discounts for paying off quicker, reduction of debt owed on settlements, or anything else that you feel could work for your business.