Top Challenges in Revenue Collection

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There’s no shortage of challenges in the loan servicing, debt collection, or revenue cycle management industries. From emerging regulations to always-shifting delinquencies, agents and managers have a wealth of competing pressures to contend with. In this post, we’ll examine the top three challenges we’ve identified, and start to look at how possible solutions may help produce outcomes in the face of these challenges.

3 Collections Challenges You Have to Meet

The first challenge is really an umbrella to the rest. Let’s call it the primary challenge of debt collection: Effectiveness in revenue generation. 

Effectiveness is defined as the rate of successfully driving a key outcome of a call (collection, retention, sales, etc.). And in terms of outcomes, some agents perform significantly better than others. In most cases, we've found that the top 20-30 percent of the performers drive 70-80 percent of the revenue collected. 

So, how do you bring the same effectiveness to every agent?

Learning the best practices of high performers is nuanced and complex, and proliferating them across the underperforming agents equally so. It can be time consuming and resource intensive. 

But it’s still a requirement, especially now, with many debt collectors reporting that their large clients work with multiple collection firms and practice rotation of accounts. With call caps imposed, it’s imperative that call centers improve their effectiveness — overall and on every call — otherwise they run the risk of losing an account.

So there’s the main challenge: achieving your desired outcomes. Effectiveness is the aim, but it requires you to meet two other key challenges: Efficiency and experience. 

Challenge #2: Efficiency

While the main value-add activities of agents are done on-call, >50% of an agent’s time and effort is spent outside of calls in areas like:

  • Note-taking and call-wrap
  • Training sessions (two weeks to four months)
  • Nesting periods (one to three months)
  • Feedback sessions (daily or weekly investment)

For agents, the investment is great, making the efficiency/effectiveness equation start to feel imbalanced. And for supervisors, overseeing all of that training, plus building and deploying talk tracks, just eat away at productivity. 

It’s not enough to simply learn (gain insight) and proliferate (apply that insight across agents) in order to be more effective. That effort has to be efficient, or the effectiveness isn’t exactly what you had imagined. 

If only there was a way for agents to learn by doing — without sacrificing the customer experience. 

Challenge #3: Customer Experience

Providing a quality experience during every interaction isn’t just about offering resolution, or paying attention to the tone of your voice. It’s about adherence to quality and compliance standards, from empathetic listening to always offering the consumer protection information the individual requires and deserves. 

In short, there are two main drivers of customer experience success in the call center. 

Compliance 

Agents, especially new ones, can struggle to remember and execute the important quality and compliance guidelines. (And who wouldn’t? It seems like there are new regulations and stipulations coming their way every day.)

Although consequences for compliance violations can be swift and extreme, analysis of these errors remains reactive. In other words, most agents never get feedback about their mistake until it’s too late to fix. And by that time, context might be out the window, leaving them liable to repeat that mistake. 

Compliance as a driver of consumer experience also refers to script adherence. Even when agents adhere to their call scripts, they can’t account for every possible scenario, and it would be unreasonable to hold them accountable for in-the-moment adaptations and improvements. That distinct lack of agency can leave the consumer feeling unheard and unsupported — even ignored, leading to complaints. 

Complaints might feature grievances such as misinformation, lost context on calls, misbehavior, or lack of empathy.  When that grievance isn’t channeled into appropriate communications and remedies, the customer experience doesn’t improve. 

And when the customer experience is poor, it leads to the second driver of poor customers experience: churn. Thus the cycle of ineffective collections plays out:

  • Poor and slow agent training
  • Poor performance via compliance failures
  • Poor customer experience
  • Defeated agents churn
  • Poor and slow agent training
  • And so on. 

Third-party debt collectors see an average annual turnover rate of 50-75 percent in a year. A year! With increasing remote work, this number has only gone up, pulling performance down. 

To Be More Effective, Focus on Efficiency and Experience 

While many smaller, daily challenges may emerge in the revenue collection contact center, focusing on outcomes will help leaders decide how to become more efficient and provide better experiences in order to achieve those outcomes. 

It may be tempting to focus on only improving one aspect of the cycle, such as ramp training for new agents. But in following this effort to a conclusion, we can see that if the outcome doesn’t improve with training improvements, we’d be back to square one. 

So we need to think bigger. How can leaders feed agent successes and improvements back into the cycle for constant learning? How can we do it effectively?

In our next post on this topic, we’ll discuss how real-time assistance can make the difference for all of your agents. 

In the meantime, reach out to our team below to start a conversation about agent performance at scale. 

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Brian Reed

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Sourya Mukherjee

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