Tools for the Successful Collections Funambulist


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Just for a moment, imagine yourself as a funambulist – AKA a tightrope walker.  You’re 30 feet in the air, and your goal is a tiny platform some 25 feet away.  It’s just you and your trusty balance pole.  If you succeed in safely walking the distance, your reward is the roar of the crowd.  A misstep means injury and perhaps worse.

Of course, you’re really a supervisor in charge of an accounts receivable center – but you can probably recognize the similarities.  Your goal here is to have agents who maximize their call numbers and collect the most money possible while not suffering a misstep during interactions with debtors.

Your perils are not height and gravity, but meeting your objectives while staying in compliance with numerous state and federal regulations.  Succeed, and it’s reflected in increased revenue for the company.  Fail, and uncorrected agent mistakes could expose your company to substantial fines.

Both professions involve balancing acts, and while you don’t risk bodily injury on a collections call, the consequences of falling out of compliance could be dire for both you and your organization.

Luckily, like a tightrope walker’s balance pole helps him traverse the high wire, an interaction analytics solution can help your team navigate the narrow path through compliance to success.  But a solution must be chosen thoughtfully, as it can make a big difference in your center’s ultimate performance.

A Balanced Solution

Some solutions rely heavily on real-time call monitoring to deliver instant agents alerts during the course of a live call.  This ability to alert agents on the fly can prove valuable in handling complex call processes, and can promote script adherence.  It’s useful for event-specific, automated coaching, but it’s only a partial solution.

Agent alerts cannot replace proper training.   Your center’s success depends on agents with good skills, and those skills are reinforced by coaching.  Only good post call analytics can reveal your team members’ strengths and weaknesses that need to be addressed.  Then alerts – used judiciously so agents don’t ignore them – can be a useful supplement to coaching.

Supervisor alerts must be limited as well.   It’s impractical for a supervisor to intervene on every alert, given the number of agents monitored and the amount of time they have dedicated to being on the floor.  Sending a supervisor an alert with the hopes that they’ll correct each mistake or lead agents through each tricky contact isn’t a scalable solution.

“Real time” alerts are particularly limited when trying to prevent agents from using harassing language or phrases that are prohibited by law.  By the time the alert launches, the violation has already happened.  The best way to prevent such infractions is through an effective training program, based on insights gained from post call analytics.   In addition, those same analytics can uncover successful agent best practices, enabling you to craft and push real time alerts across the team.

Post call analytics delivers the most in-depth understanding of collection trends and agent performance; provides insight into debtor situations; identifies underperforming agents;  and allows you to put tactics in place for future calls—but it doesn’t do any of it instantaneously.   Each approach has its advantages and limitations, so to maximize the business value of your analytics application, look for a balanced solution that offers both.

Comprehensive Information = Total Equilibrium

Like a funambulist chooses a balance pole long enough to keep him steady on the high wire, your analytics solution must scale to capture to all your contact data.  With too short a balance pole, the tight rope walker wobbles.  With too “small” a solution, you’re basing decisions on sample data that doesn’t represent a full picture of your contact center interactions.

In an industry where a single infraction can represent a huge fine, analyzing all of your audio is the only way to keep sure footing on this compliance journey.  Without 100% of audio searched, analyzed and ready for review, you will be unprepared if you need to locate a certain call, phrase or word on the fly.  In responding to compliance questions, you don’t want the burden of having to reprocess all your audio to locate a specific call event.

Regulations change frequently, but compliance is still required.  With so much at stake, having the assurance that you’ve discovered all the problem events that might be lurking in your interaction data is vital.    The ability to capture all instances of a particular issue enables you to:

  • Refer cases to counsel
  • ID agents who put company at risk
  • Avoid last minute attempts to gather and assemble evidence for governmental inquiries

Likewise, hidden in the hours of recorded interactions could be the next great call tactic for your entire team. One agent’s successful – and compliant – collection technique could be the key to bolstering productivity across your whole team.  But if your sample calls don’t reveal it, you can’t share it.

Stepping Up Performance

Ultimately, your analytics solution should help tie your contact center outcomes directly to company goals, through metrics-based performance management.  Only with empirical evidence based on 100% of your recorded data can you associate agent behaviors with desired outcomes and identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that result in center success.

Once established, these KPIs serve as bench marks for measuring the performance of all your agents in a statistically-relevant manner.  Results need to be presented in an easy-to-read dashboard view, where you can survey your team’s performance and can quickly identify who’s excelling and who’s struggling.   This allows coaching to be aimed at those agents who fall outside the performance curve in order to improve the collective average of the group.  This approach has proven to be more efficient than delivering blanket coaching to everyone, regardless of performance.

So, in conclusion, the choice of an interaction analytics solution can have a huge effect on the performance of your collection center.  Much like that fearless funambulist, you need a tool that  helps you achieve sure footing while balancing  compliance requirements and collection goals, letting you successfully navigate the often precarious path to success.

{Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons}

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mike Hutchison
Mike is Vice President of Business Operations and Sales Support at Nexidia. Mike is responsible for helping Nexidia clients learn how to effectively utilize their customer interactions to drive business change. During his career, Mike has led multiple analytic engagements that have demonstrated substantial cost savings to companies across a number of industries. Prior to Nexidia, Mike directed a 1,000 plus person contact center operation and directed world wide workforce optimization for Telvista.


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