Why Debt Collection Is Such an Issue
With restrictions to movement and ready access to essential services limited, both consumers and creditors have been dealing with issues in the wake of COVID-19. According to the Institute of International Finance, since 2020, the pandemic has added in excess of $19.5 trillion to Global Debt. Many businesses have struggled with debt collection and had to negotiate outstanding dues with customers who were dealing with financial issues.
Organizations looking to collect on outstanding debts must also negotiate a virtual minefield of regulations and compliance issues. Operators in industries like healthcare, for example, must comply with the stringent rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) governing the handling of Protected Health Information (PHI). Organizations dealing with online and credit card payments must adhere to the requirements of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCIDSS) for monitoring, recording, transmitting, and storing calls containing personal financial data.
If your call center or contact center violates compliance laws, the consequences can be disastrous. As a case in point, since 2012: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has hit non-compliant operators with $1.7 billion in penalties. Since that time too, the CFPB reports that debt collection has been the second-most complained about issue in the financial industry. Debtors routinely complain about organizations attempting to collect on invalid debts, a lack of information about debt validity, and harassment on the phone.
[Image source: PDCflow]
Despite these obstacles however, organizations that implement a good debt collection strategy not only boost revenue but also ensure long-term stability and growth. They can accomplish this by using an efficient call center solution that increases service agent productivity, maintains financial stability — and incorporates the following essential tools.
An Ominchannel Selection of Communication Options
Although voice calls are still the preferred method of contact for customers, SMS, self-service, web/live chat, email, social media, and messaging apps all play a role in customer interactions with organizations and brands. This also applies to debt collection, and the follow up after initial contact with the debtor.
With a contact center solution that provides omnichannel communication options, you can easily respond to the individual requirements of each customer, and interact with them via the method they prefer. Omnichannel communication can also help give you a clear oversight of all phone and digital channels, enabling you to seamlessly communicate with your clients, while tailoring your debt collection approach to their personal circumstances.
Infrastructure to Allow Multiple Payment Options
Just as today’s customers may use a range of channels for communication, they may also favor a range of different payment methods. Revenue generation for your debt collection call center will therefore benefit, if you are able to accommodate multiple payment options.
A robust contact center or call center solution should provide seamless integration with payment processing systems that cater for various methods of money transfer. These may for example include web portals, automated mobile payment solutions, and virtual agents for automated payments.
Digital Debt Collection Software with Customer Segmentation
Your debt collection call center platform should also provide tools for customer segmentation — a key process in ensuring that you can approach and interact with your debtor population in the ways most likely to result in payment from the various classes of customer.
With a robust suite of digital debt collection software, you can establish intelligent routing criteria for each collection campaign, taking into account factors such as amount overdue, number of payments missed, and information from your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This information empowers you to segment accounts based on groups of debtors that are similar to each other.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
Debt collection agents with access to the most up-to-date information on each client are better positioned to negotiate payment terms, and ultimately generate revenue. A call center solution with Computer Telephony Integration and integration with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can help with this, and in preventing your agents from engaging in invalid debt collection attempts, such as trying to collect a sum that has already been paid.
Automation for Revenue Recovery
Automated processes and tools can enhance your debt recovery efforts in a number of ways. For recurring payments for example, an automated revenue recovery process can provide early alerts to your organization regarding potential debt collection problems, thereby empowering you to take actions to mitigate them. This can minimize the revenue lost to failed transactions and bad debt, and the customer churn associated with payment declines.
Promoting online payments via customer portals and self-service options introduces automation into the revenue recovery process, from the debtor’s point of view. Such payments relieve your organization of the burden of paperwork, and provide customers with the convenience of paying through a secure connection from the comfort of their own homes.
Automated reminder systems can send thousands of customized and personalized messages to customers, via their preferred communication channels. In addition, the timing and frequency of contacting debtors can be automatically scheduled to ensure compliance.
On the phones, Automated Dialing Systems (ADS) relieve agents of the burden of manually dialing customer numbers — an activity that can reduce agent efficiency to only 15 minutes of productive time per hour. Advanced automated calling systems can improve connection rates by at least 200 %, enabling each collection agent to handle nearly twice as many calls per hour. In addition, predictive dialing software and automatic dialer algorithms can reduce wait times, dropped calls, and agent idle time.
A Centralized Data System with Analytics
With comprehensive data on each customer, your debt collection team is better positioned to automate and personalize the revenue recovery process. By centralizing customer information in a single repository, all collection staff can have access to the same database — and your organization can cut its debt collection costs. Such a centralized system can activate dialers and collectors to work or evaluate accounts in the event of any issues.
A centralized data system can include workflow, decision-making, customer service, data communication, and other aspects of unified debt collection. Coupling this database with advanced analytics empowers you to develop effective collection strategies with customer segmentation and personalization, while alerting agents to compliance rules and potential violations during each interaction.
Tools for Meticulous Documentation of Transactions
In the highly regulated business of debt collection, accurate documentation is key to keeping track of each case, and can be instrumental in settling disputes. Your debt collection call center solution should therefore provide tools that enable you to keep meticulous notes while discussing the outstanding bill with a customer, and help in avoiding future debt disagreements. If your organization uses tracking software, the system should enable you to continue adding new information to your file, as it becomes available.
A cloud-based call center solution can assist in recording all the necessary details. The platform can also be used to disseminate information to your call center agents and the rest of your organization. This allows calls to be handled by whoever answers the phone, which is important from a customer experience angle, as the person who started the debt collection process may not be the one answering the phone at any given time.
[Image source: FICO]
You Need The Right Carrier for Your Collection Call Center
Together with the essential tools described above, you also need the right network carrier for your collection call center operations. If you already have a cloud or hosted voice platform, you may not be fully satisfied with the options, quality, support, or termination rates that the platform provider has to offer.
In this case, Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC) is a better option. With BYOC, your organization can directly negotiate billing and management of voice services with an external voice carrier of your choice.
IDT BYOC is a cloud-based solution that provides organizations with superior voice quality, scalability, carrier reliability, and redundancy for business continuity, coverage, and control.
To find out more about how IDT can help in providing the essential tools for your collection call centers, get in touch with us.