By Cecilia Jofré, business development and account management executive of Intuate Group
JOHANNESBURG –July 11, 2014 – Through using the right technology, customers of South African owned integrated solutions specialist Intuate Group have managed to increase right-party contact rates and streamline the communications processes. Based on the organisation’s experiences and those of Noble Systems, for which Intuate Group is a preferred partner, it has put together a number of tips that can enhance the productivity of collectors, save resources, gain more promisestopay and improve overall collections results.
Data quality and segmentation
Segmenting and analysing the data before it is loaded into diallers and dialling campaigns will enable every account to be maximised and the highest revenues to be collected. This allows collection agencies to assign the correct resources to each collection campaign to maximise results.
In some cases, your business may decide to send information out to third party providers to cleanse and append information, updating telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, so that the collection companies can then target these debtors through a multichannel approach. They can also help with the quality of the data, by filling in the blanks.
Debt value is typically a way to segment the data into different teams within the organisation; looking at the primary, secondary and tertiary debts allows them to be allocated accordingly.
SMS/Text-to-speech (TTS) /E-mail messaging
Before collectors even make a call, wouldn’t it be fantastic to stimulate inbound traffic? SMS and e-mail blasts will drive up inbound traffic, with the cost of sending an e-mail, or SMS, or automated voice message (AVM), being typically far lower than the cost of an agent-minute on the phone.
Africa is in the midst of a technological revolution, and nothing illustrates that fact more than the proliferation of mobile phones. Consider this: more Africans have access to mobile phones than to clean drinking water. In South Africa, mobile phone use went from 17 percent of adults in 2000 to 76 percent in 2010, and it remains on the climb. Recent reports also indicate that more than 60 percent of South Africans regularly use their cell phones to access the Internet and e-mail.
Being able to effectively stimulate debtors through their mobile phones is therefore absolutely key to the success of a debt collection operation. It is important to remember, however, that once you have stimulated inbound calls, the organisation must have the ability to deal with that traffic. Once you have the debtor’s attention, you don’t want to lose it.
To make the most out of e-mail, SMS and AVM, collections companies need to consider personalising each debtor interaction. This increases the likelihood that a debtor will take notice of the message and will be tempted to respond. This also improves the image of the collections agency, and builds trust with the debtor. Results have shown a much better contact rate when personalised messages are used over static messaging.
Effective contact routing
Effective contact routing can be done through self-service interactive voice response (IVR), skills based routing and account ownership.
Self-service IVR menus allow debtors to respond immediately after receiving the (aforementioned) personalised message. New solutions take this one step further, with payment IVRs allowing the debtor to make a payment by simply entering payment details without the need for collector involvement. Alternatively if the debtor has a query, they can be put through to an agent to negotiate a settlement or payment plan, or to get an answer to their question.
Skills based routing can increase promises to pay and ensures that the organisation’s best collectors are utilised on the most appropriate calls. Top closers should be utilised wherever they are available over other collectors, in order to maximise revenues and promises to pay for the business. Also, high value or known difficult accounts can be routed through to those more experienced agents, who have a better close rate and more experience dealing with difficult accounts.
Contact routing through account ownership can be deployed for both inbound and outbound calls. For inbound traffic, account ownership is all about driving performance through collector accountability, whilst building relationships with the debtor. This means that inbound calls are routed through to an account manager who has an established relationship with the debtor, which in turn builds on the personalisation of messaging mentioned previously. Dealing with the same person gives the debtor a degree of comfort. On the outbound side, productivity can also be improved through account ownership, as the collectors are able to review their own work list, select a record, and view the debtor information and account history before they launch a call to the debtor.
Unified collector environment
It is typically very difficult for collectors to manage multiple channels, so contact centres need to put in place solutions that help collectors deal with multi-channel communication streams. Collection centres have traditionally focused on the best use of their resources and making the most out of every right party contact (RPC), and while this has not changed, what has changed is the way in which debtors communicate. People no longer solely rely on their home telephones to make contact. Depending on your business set-up, contact centres can be configured to have inbound as well as outbound teams, or to operate a blended environment; whilst managing the various media channels, such as e-mail, SMS and so on, at the same time.
A unified workflow application can bring up debtor information immediately, allow for the personalisation of greeting, and minimise wasted time searching for debtor information. It can also be used to guide collectors through the correct process within a call; for example, ensuring that agents perform the correct identification verification checks before moving to the next phase of the call. Within advanced workflow applications, script changes can also be made dynamically, depending upon the information entered by the collector on the call, assisting the collector in ensuring the optimum resolution is reached in every call.
Automated outbound dialling
There are a number of ways that outbound diallers can be used, with predictive, preview, and progressive dialling modes being but a few. Regardless of the dialler mode, what is important here is enhancing the productivity by using an automated solution. Automating outbound dialling helps to manage and organise campaigns and resources; building productivity, improving efficiency, and increasing call volumes. Automation of this process can also help to eliminate any manual keying errors, whilst driving increased call volumes and list penetration.
Any enterprise level solution will typically allow you to store multiple contact numbers in each data record and manage calling leads at different times of the day, enabling multiple contact reaches to the same debtor; for example, when you know someone is at work all day, you will have to contact them on their mobile phone rather than home number; whilst outside work hours, you know they can be contacted on either. Using an automated outbound dialling system will also allow collectors to set call backs at specific times with on screen calendars.
Best time and propensity to pay
To improve on the way outbound dialling systems are used, organisations can look at best time and propensity to pay models. Automated diallers are an integral part of outbound calling strategies, however, these devices working alone cannot determine the right time to call the right customer on the right number and get the best results. With solutions that look at best time and propensity to pay, organisations can easily determine the probability of getting the RPC and the probability of a positive response. This done with client predictive models will further help organisations to schedule the best calls for each hour of the day, and channel them to the right resource, to maximise productivity and the result of each hour’s campaign.
Such applications should dynamically learn over time and provide increasing levels of accuracy on the data. Each month, the data should be automatically refreshed, using at least 60 days of your organisation’s call history. This means that as the system is utilised, the RPCs and promise to pays will improve. Historical data can provide the best time to call, the best method of contact and the propensity of the debtor to pay. This means only two or three months of data are needed to build a quality picture of the debtor and, in turn, maximise collector performance. It will also allow the deployment of time based calling campaigns, and should reduce the roll rates and charge offs. This not only improves agent productivity, but also agent satisfaction as they get more RPCs, promises to pay and ultimately collections.
Interaction analytics is the contact centre’s fastest growing area of interest, with speech analytics being the main focus for collections organisations’ agents. Interaction analytics uses automated methods to analyse every contact to gain intelligence, which allows for improved future contact with each individual debtor, whilst using predictive analytics to audit past performance to determine the probability of a future result. This gives collection agents the ability to understand when and how to contact the debtor to get the most productive result. The result of this is a substantial rise in agent productivity through increases in connect time, decreases in wait times, and contact with debtors at the most appropriate time.
Advanced speech analytics enables collection centres to search and analyse 100 percent of calls quickly and simply to enable the measurement of performance and results. These solutions use phonemes (the smallest unit of human speech) pattern matching to enable searching on words or phrases, including names, slang or non-standard grammar. As 100 percent of the calls can be analysed at the same time, it allows agent performance trends to be immediately identified, whether they be good or bad, across the collections floor; this enables collections managers to address the bad trends quickly and stop them, and celebrate the good ones and share them.
The main reason to use speech analytics is to increase the performance of every agent, through skills sharing and training.
Dynamic agent management
Dynamic agent management is about managing collection activities with a comprehensive management suite, allowing users to build scripts, control centre resources, monitor real-time performance, and create custom reports without any real IT input. Today’s collection centre management solutions should allow you to access real time activity views, online statistics with drill down capability, charts and graphs to understand performance against your own specified metrics, import and export data, set up and manage campaigns, assign skills to inbound call routing, and manage IVR workflows ensuring a smooth flow and transition of inbound and outbound calls.
All of this information should be up-to-the-second accurate and accessible over multiple devices, such as PCs, tablets and mobile phones. This ultimately will enable collections managers to have the freedom to get back to the collections floor, where they can get a better understanding of what is going on at the coalface of the organisation. Typically, managers and team leaders will also be required to attend meetings and may have to spend a large proportion of their day away from their teams. With customised alerting solutions, managers can now monitor and manage their teams wherever they are in the world, with real time status updates and alerts being sent directly to their devices.
Effective workforce management
Workforce management is concerned with right-sizing the collections operation by having the correct number of collectors available to manage all call traffic, both inbound and outbound. It is the art of having the right number of skilled people, supporting resources at the right place at the right time, to meet the desired service levels and accurately forecasted workload.
Effective workforce management tools will remove the guess work in collections centre planning by carefully balancing the demands of planned business activities (such as outbound calling) with the debtor’s service level expectations when making inbound calls to your organisation. When calling in to a collections agency, debtors have a limited initial engagement time within which the organisation must ensure that the call is handled effectively to meet that expectation. This will set the tone for the remainder of the call, so it is critical that this expectation is met as quickly as possible and that an agent is available to handle the call and elicit a promise to pay or collection.
Workforce management tools also help collections managers to understand and appropriately manage those “what if” scenarios, such as a sudden influx of calls or an unexpected large absence in the team, as well as managing quotidian issues such as holiday leave requests.
About Intuate Group
Intuate Group is a privately owned, South African, broad based IT company that provides specialised, integrated technology and people solutions that bring real benefit to its clients in support of their strategic and operational objectives.
Its services encompass the provision of business intelligence, project management, state-of-the-art contact centre solutions, the supply and implementation of best-of-breed IT solutions, the management and support of IT infrastructure – specifically storage and server consolidation, as well as IT strategy and consulting.
Intuate Group’s holistic, solutions-based approach ensures that all processes, technologies and people requirements are harmonised within its architecture, thereby realising strategic value and benefits through the successful implementation, deployment and ongoing operation for its clients.
Intuate Group: Mark Edwards, 011 302-1200, firstname.lastname@example.org
icomm: Debbie Sielemann, +27 (0)82 414 4633, Debbie@pr.co.za