This trial focussed on adaptations to debt recovery letters over the first two stages of the escalation process. These stages were entirely automated for the organisation in question and included letters, texts and phone calls. This trial applied minor changes to the existing actions based on two well-documented behaviour change principles: Fear Appeals and Social Norms.
Control Group: Existing arrears communications.
Norm Intervention: As per control, but with additional message: “99.8% of all rent due in your neighbourhood is collected on time.”
Fear Intervention: As per control, but with additional message: “Last year, 177 people lost their homes because of rent arrears.”
• Tenants in the Fear group were more than twice as likely to make a payment than those in the control group, after all other variables had been factored out. Tenants in the Norm group were nearly twice as likely to make a payment than the control.
• Whilst tenants in the control group paid more over the course of the trial in absolute terms, analysis to factor out other variables showed that the intervention groups generated more revenue (7%) than the control.
• The Fear condition resulted in 17% less contact than the control, with the Norm condition delivering 13% less, in line with the behavioural objective to reduce the cost associated with contact handling.
• At least one intervention group was more effective than the control on all metrics apart from one (agreements). On 4 out of the 8 metrics, both intervention groups outperformed the control.