The pressure on contact centers to drive higher liquidation rates for accounts receivables while keeping costs under control continues unabated. These dual pressures seem at odds, especially with net revenue tied directly to the agency’s ability to have consumers pay outstanding balances in full or to make reasonable arrangements to do so over time. The most successful businesses understand that solid First Call Resolution (FCR) metrics are something to strive for, but the reality is they are onerous to achieve.
A Tough Job Made Even Tougher
So what drives FCR for even the most efficient organizations? It’s human capital: those agents who have the persistent work ethic to make the outbound calls and who pleasantly field the inbound calls. Unfortunately, this most vital piece in the machine for collection and servicing has been a weak link with turnover rates in calls centers averaging a notoriously high 33% pre-pandemic.
Now, with the workforce coming out of forced isolation due to Covid-19 there is another hurdle for hiring. The movement known as “the Great Resignation” saw 2.9% of the entire U.S. workforce quitting their jobs in August. According to Harvard Professor of Economics Lawrence Katz, the Great Resignation isn’t simply people leaving their jobs because of the pandemic or because the government increased subsidies and extended or increased unemployment insurance benefits. Rather, it’s people leaving for higher wages and also, as Katz eloquently terms it, “a once-in-a-generation “take this job and shove it” moment.”
On the surface, few jobs offer the double whammy that call center agents endure: low compensation combined with the frustration and headaches of dealing with demanding and/or litigious consumers in need of service or support. A recent report notes 96% of call center agents surveyed reported feeling acutely stressed at least once per week while a full 33% of agents feel acutely stressed multiple times per week.
This harsh reality is exacerbated even more in the collections industry as agents are constantly in the bullseye of irate consumers on the other end of a phone. The plight of a collections agent isn’t limited to just angry phone calls. Agents must be trained to be courteous, professional while adhering to the rigid scripts and rules prescribed by innumerable regulations and edicts.
Automation and Technology To The Rescue
According to Payments Journal, one thing that can aid agents to excel in their role while saving businesses time and money are technologies that can automate high-volume tasks. As the article notes, “collections are no different.” At its core, automation has to successfully handle “shifting workloads, many agents in different roles, and high employee turnover.”
Automating a collection call center presents unique challenges. For example, agents always identify themselves, their agency, and the purpose for their call. They must comply with The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Further, in any initial communication with a consumer, agents must clearly state the mini-Miranda, disclosing why they are being contacted (to collect a debt) and how the information gathered during the communication will be used. Although the mini-miranda is often required, the consumer often perceives the statement as judgemental or confrontational. And of course, there are the new Reg F updates.
So, with the stress of the job, the need to adhere to strict guidelines, and the fight to hire good people in a hyper-competitive job market it should seem obvious that some form of automation might be in order. It can help you achieve the necessary steps you need to make to drive FCR and increase collections from such calls.
Assure Compliance, Handle Rising Call Volumes and Help Agents Succeed
Our Conversational AI solution – the Virtual Collection Agent (VCA) -helps agencies become more productive and efficient than their current state. The VCA assures compliance to a host of regulations and it authenticates, identifies, and routes consumers to live agents when necessary to resolve more complex caller requests. The VCA can take the pressure off your existing agents, negate the need to hire and check off the must-haves required to keep your business in great standing with your clients. Imagine the time and money saved when call center agents solely focus on helping consumers to resolve issues and find solutions consumers want to retire debt.
In short, Conversational AI delivers improved customer experience while also lowering costs. The times may appear tough for those in our industry, but Interactions VCA, among other solutions, automate your contact center to help you thrive in the midst of both the hiring and regulatory pinch so that your business can reach peak performance and you can get paid.