The business sense of Speech Analytics for Debt Collection
Effective debt collection is a strenuous balancing act having to meet several, often competing, goals at once: hitting revenue targets, ensuring promises are kept and controlling delinquency roll rates, while preserving the relationship of the debtor with the creditor, and all that tailored for different products and clients. Also, let’s not forget the productivity KPIs that run in parallel, for example average calls handled per agent or average call duration. If we add to all of this the underlying abrasive nature of debt collection calls which cause some of the highest agent attrition rates in the industry, as well as the different regulatory constraints that have to be observed, it would be safe to say that debt collections can be a testing call centre environment.
Most debt collection call centres, whether in-house or outsourced, have been using Call Recording for some years now to provision for compliance, but also for quality and performance monitoring purposes. The next step to improve performance is the use of Speech Analytics technology, which has taken great strides in the last few years and is today a very stable and reliable tool with a host of benefits, especially for demanding call centre environments like debt collections. Speech analytics provides a vital window into the interactions between agents and debtors and helps collection agencies identify where changes need to be made to give them a leading edge when competing for portfolios and collection accounts.
Ensuring adherence and compliance
High on the list of challenges for debt collection is ensuring that agents do not violate guidelines set by customer code of conduct policies and regulatory bodies. Failure to comply with these guidelines may incur fines from regulators and loss of customer business, both of which can seriously affect the centre’s bottom line.
In its simplest form, speech analytics acts retrospectively to help the centre quickly locate specific calls around which an issue has occurred (debtor complaint, agent misinformation etc), especially when this information is required by UK Regulatory Bodies like the FCA and Ofcom. However Speech Analytics’ real value is that it can act as a precautionary and preventive mechanism; being able to search among thousands of calls that take place every day using specific keywords or phrases, will allow call centre managers and supervisors to isolate those calls that might be of potential risk and remedy the situation/take corrective action before it repeats itself or escalates.
Traditional, narrow call sampling techniques are not sufficient for capturing and understanding representative agent-debtor interactions to achieve the greatest return on agent efforts. By monitoring key behaviours via agent audio, these behaviours can be measured and tracked against monetary performance – the techniques that yield the greatest return can be mapped out by quality staff and introduced into coaching sessions.
Over time, properly focused training will return greater profits across fewer calls. Leading debt collection agencies that have implemented speech analytics within their call centres have reaped the benefits in every aspect of their interactions. Not only have they been able to quantify problems but they have also identified the underlying agent behaviours, fix processes accordingly and return more ‘promises to pay’ resulting in higher settlements achieved in each call. Of equal importance, these centres have managed to reduce agent attrition rates by being able to provide timely targeted training and coaching.
Another key benefit of Speech Analytics is its contribution in helping reduce expensive inefficiencies. A common problem is that often supervisor time is wasted in finding and listening to single calls that give no real understanding of key trends and issues. Speech analytics ‘listens’ to 100% of calls, saving hours of management time, and quickly highlights long calls and the conversations driving them, helping organisations improve workflows and scripts and maximise profits per agent hour.
What’s more, Speech Analytics can expose issues relevant to the agency’s client –whether these are references to their procedures, such as ineffective customer service at the branch, or reference of competitor products and offerings to those of the client. These can then be reported back to the client as a value added, differentiating service.
Ultimately, Speech Analytics can be used to compete for the best portfolios and keep your staff performing at their highest potential, helping you maintain a strong hold on what is currently one of the most lucrative UK markets.