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Collections Technology in the aftermath of a pandemic (Part 2)

April 21, 2021 at 11:00 AM

In part 1 of this 2 part series, we looked at the available tools in working accounts optimally as well as tools available in connecting and engaging with the customer.

We previously focussed on the Collections cascade or funnel and what types of technology can positively influence performance.

A funnel  describing the Collections funnel concept

When we look at the collections funnel, we all know that the volumes entered or starting volumes diminishes as you go through the levels or activities. What we want to do is to utilise data and technology to decrease this diminishing relationship between the levels or activities, and we want to increase the conversion rates.

In this part 2, we will be looking at what can help us when engaging with the right party, and tools assisting the user when negotiating payments.


Collections funnel - engaging the right party

A vital part of any call centre is the capability to monitor telephone calls for quality and assess calls for internal and external governance purposes. The difficulty for most QA departments, is the identification of accounts to assess. Most departments still utilise random selection criteria in assessing a very small portion of the calls made.

Some companies assess 100% of all calls made, with a very small QA Team, by using,

    a.  Automated Speech Analytics

Automated speech analytics has never really gotten traction within the South African market, mostly due to these solutions being US dollar based and extremely expensive, and due to the accuracy of the solutions which are not developed for the South African market.

In recent years we have seen local solutions developed, which resulted in companies being able to assess all their calls and identify calls for further scrutiny based on customisable criteria. These solutions have highlighted several fallacies which we believed in the past, like low RPC rates. We have seen companies spending millions on enhancing contact details, only to realise through Speech Analytics, that agents manipulate the system (in terms of RPC’s) to positively affect operational KPI’s.

Speech analytics solutions can assist call centres to analyse all the calls, highlight calls which require additional attention, highlight words and phrases that are commonly used, highlight conversations which contain or don’t contain a specific word or phrase, all this at a fraction of the cost of similar international products. With the increase in processing capability, live speech analytics will have the capability to proactively guide agents throughout a call, and ensure full compliance of each telephone call.

We have previously discussed solutions or their outcomes that can assist a consultant or agent in having a more collaborative conversation with the customer, but how do we get these insights to the consultant or agent without having to continuously develop features in our collections management system?

By introducing a stand-alone visualisation tool:

    b.  Visualisation Tool

Visualisation tools for call centre agents guides and support agents through calls in real-time, offers them easy access to new relevant information and motivates and inspires high performance through gamification, without the IT dependencies associated with making changes to core systems.

Visualisation tools, transforms internal and external data into visual elements, which gets absorbed and processed faster by the human brain, due to the strength of the occipital lobe. With a visualisation tool we can introduce new information and analytical outcomes to users, knowing that they will be able to process the information within a split second, to drive better call outcomes.

A big part of negotiation and system utilisation is also training, but conventional training is quickly dying out:

    c.  E-Learning Platforms

It is imperative to provide new agents with the training needed to operate in the call centre. Training will include operating the software, understanding credit and delinquency, communication tones and negotiation techniques.

When considering training platforms and principles, always remember what the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve taught us that information is lost over time when you don't try to retain it. So, when we assess e-learning training platforms, we need to ensure that the training platform is built on repetitive micro learning and gamification. This will ensure knowledge transfer and return on investment for any company.

Let’s look at tools assisting the user when negotiating payments.


Collections funnel - payment arrangements

Making a payment arrangement is normally the end objective for a consultant or agent during a telephone conversation, or within self-service communication, but what tools are available to create the arrangement which has the best possible outcome for the company?

    a.  Predictive and Descriptive Analytics

As usual, data analytics plays a key role. With data analytics we can determine if the customer can settle both his current instalment and arrears, or within late stage collections and recoveries the correct instalment amount or settlement capability and amount. Despite of what we want as an organisation, analytics can inform us of what we will get from a customer. We may want the full instalment and arrears, but if analytics prove to us that we will only get the full instalment, forcing more than that will result in no payment.

Analytics can therefore guide the consultant or agent to negotiate arrangements based on internal and external data analytics, which has proven to be far superior than the traditional stick and carrot approach.

Willingness from a customer to make payment will only result in actual payment if the payment process is made as simple and convenient as possible for the customer.

    b.  Multi Service and Payment Solutions

We know that our strategies must be a customer centric approach, and therefore we must align our payment solutions to include all available payment platforms, such as debit orders, EFT’s, self-service card and eft payment platforms.

Customer centric companies will perform better than non-customer centric companies.


Collections funnel showing receiving payment or instalment

We know that there are multiple technology platforms available which can assist us in achieving success. In looking at these solutions we see the importance of:

  • A multi-platform approach. Technology specialisation makes it possible to bundle solutions of various providers together, resulting in an environment with speciality in all solutions;
  • We must be able to access and use these technology solutions, anywhere and right-now with scalability. We have learned from the Covid pandemic that constraints in where and when we can access solutions will only lead to failure;
  • All solutions must be data driven solutions, meaning you as a business must have the capability to gather, analyse and optimise data;
  • Solutions must be customer centric, in aligning customer preferences to capabilities; and
  • The solutions must drive efficiency and effectiveness within their intended areas.

We hope these insights have been of value, and that you will investigate some of the technology solutions mentioned to further enhance your operations.


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Perry de Jager
Perry de Jager
Perry has been involved in Collections and Recoveries for the past 22 years, spending time in different market segments ranging from law firms to investment companies. At Principa, Perry has worked on extended projects within both South Africa and the Middle East with some of the largest financial organisation, providing on-site consulting within the collections and recoveries space covering strategy, process, people and technology.

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