How cloud technology can improve collections performance

In today’s world, few consumers are immune to the risk of personal debt. The uncertain nature of the global economy is creating a new breed of debtor, in the form of a consumer who has temporarily fallen on hard times, after living their whole lives as reliable bill-payers. Today’s debtors are likely to be highly motivated to protect their credit rating and will welcome the opportunity to work with the lender to resolve the debt.

At the same time organisations are putting a greater emphasis on building long-term customer relationships by focusing on the customer experience. All of this, together with increased competition for customers in every sector of the economy, means that debt management is becoming a part of the customer journey for many organisations.

Traditionally, debt collection operations have invested in automated dialler technology to increase efficiency by speeding up connections. However, today’s cloud contact centre platforms go further than this to offer a complete contact centre package that also empowers your agents to collect more revenue.  This article outlines three key areas where the latest cloud contact centre technology can help organisations evolve their collection functions to drive collections and increase revenues.

Understand your customer

The first challenge for recovering the debt is usually establishing contact with debtors, and understanding their communication preferences can make a huge difference here. Today’s consumer communicates mainly via the mobile and will opt for digital channels over voice if given the opportunity.  And this applies to debtors too.

The popularity of mobile phones is something that collections activity – and choice of technology platform – should take into account.  West Cloud Contact Pro is the first cloud contact centre platform to offer Mobile Number Screening, which interrogates the network status of mobiles before calling them to filter out any invalid numbers as well as mobiles that are turned off or abroad roaming.  This feature alone will typically drive up mobile connect rates by up to 40% by allowing agents to focus purely on the good and available numbers. 

The timing of calls can also have a huge impact on the success of debt collections. Where possible, make smart use of customer history and demographics to identify the best time to call. 

To maximise success you need to call not only at a time when calls will be answered but also when your target audience is most likely to be willing to engage with you.

For example, you may want to avoid calling young mums during the school run.  Be aware of the impact of environmental factors as well; on a hot day when it’s likely that certain demographics are outside enjoying the sunshine, focus on dialling mobiles rather than landlines. Use this data wisely to schedule your campaigns and shifts. It might even be worth making changes to the campaign hours and agents’ shifts to enable the dialling activity to match your peak connection hours. 

Build better relationships

By building better relationships with your debtors, you will build trust and long-term loyalty while also encouraging them to give your brand preference over others they may owe money to.  By treating customers fairly and placing them at the heart of collections strategies, it is possible to increase revenues recovered while protecting your brand reputation.

The collections conversation is key to successful debt recovery.  Given the difficulty of reaching debtors, it is vital to increase the chances of success for every call.  Avoid static, inflexible scripts that are more likely to hinder than help. Make sure your conversation covers key contractual points, flows logically and is not likely to cause any frustrations for the customer, such as having to repeat information.

Users of West Cloud Contact Pro can take advantage of dynamic call scripting which can greatly enhance the effectiveness of debt collection activity by enabling consistent, confident and compliant communications with your customers and importantly increasing First Call Resolution (FCR) rates. 

Rather than have agents flicking through different screens and business systems, the latest cloud contact centre platforms will ensure all the necessary and relevant information is together in one place, empowering agents to focus on the call outcome. Significant efficiency improvements can be made by configuring the system to pre-populate screen data based on previous responses or by having automated email content written based on script responses.

By empowering the agent to handle customers with relevance and sensitivity, call scripting can greatly improve call outcomes, including revenue collection. And a cloud platform such as West Cloud Contact Pro will also ensure PCI compliance so agents can take payments over the phone.

Make sure you select a cloud contact centre platform that gives you the option to deploy skills-based routing to prioritise calls based on factors such as age of debt, amount of money owed and customer relationship status. For example, you could divert low-value inventory calls to IVR systems so that live agents can focus on collecting larger sums.

Think multichannel

Digital channels offer huge potential to reduce costs and improve collection performance. A flexible outbound system will allow you to integrate digital channels within your debt collection strategy to help improve your debt collection recovery rate.  Statistics gathered from YouGov, Demos and Ofcom reveal that 75% of debtors are aged under 45, a demographic which is very comfortable with digital channels.

Research shows that email and SMS can be extremely useful for tracing and making initial contact with debtors who might ignore a phone call.  And of course, these channels can help to reduce costs by using your human resources more efficiently.

By understanding the communication habits of the modern consumer, who will invariably use their mobile as the primary communications devices, it is possible to identify more effective collection practices. Since mobile phones are personal rather than household communications devices, the odds of contact can be increased if you take the right approach. Mobile communications can play a valuable role in your customer-centric collections strategy.  Many people will make a payment action in response to a mobile communication, rather than mulling over a stack of bills and trying to work out which to pay first.

As cloud contact centres become standard for every organisation, debt collection strategies will become more sophisticated. Ultimately by focusing on meeting customer needs and matching their communication preferences, collections teams will not only increase revenues recovered but will also help to build long-term loyal relationships with customers. The right cloud contact centre platform will empower your agents to recover more debt, while also keeping operational costs down.

Enda Kenneally, VP Sales & Business Development at West’s Unified Communications Services

Changing economic conditions mean that more and more people are going to find themselves in payment arrears at some point in their lifetime. To help organisations develop a more effective approach to debt collection, West’s Unified Communications Services has recently published a white paper on call centre collection excellence. Click here to read. 

COMPANY PROFILE:

West’s Unified Communications Services Cloud Contact Pro is a revolutionary contact centre platform designed to boost productivity, increase connection rates and build customer relationships. It gives users the ability to design diverse call flows for customer acquisition, service, retention and collections, and combine that with insightful reporting and forecasting capabilities to deliver great service at a lower cost point. It even offers fully PCI compliant call recording and workforce management solutions.