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Real-World Contact Center Lessons to Improve the Debt Collection Experience

|  5 min
Improve Debt Collection Experience
In this article

Consumer debt in the U.S. hit $15.6 trillion in 2021, an increase of $333 billion from 2020 — the biggest annual jump since 2003.

How will the creditors recover the money that’s owed to them? Many will utilize contact centers. Although call centers were once the main way to recover debt over the phone, today’s contact centers communicate by phone, email, letter mail, text, online chat and even social media.

Not all debt collection contact centers are the same, however.

Types of debt collection contact centers

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common types of contact center models for collecting debt.

Some contact centers collect debt for private businesses while others do so for government agencies; some collect consumer debt while others focus on commercial B2B debt.

At an in-house contact center, the creditor uses its own internal staff and resources to recover monies owed. Alternatively, some creditors outsource this process to an outside collection agency (OCA), a third party that recovers debt on behalf of various clients and keeps a portion of the collected revenue. In addition, some contact centers specialize in collecting a certain type of debt such as medical, mortgage, credit card, student or auto loan debt.

Despite these variations in contact center operations and the types of debt they collect, one thing has become increasingly common among all debt collection contact centers: cloud technology. In 2021, 25 per cent of contact centers were fully cloud-based, up from just 10 per cent in 2020. Let’s explore why cloud is gaining popularity in contact centers and how it helps them successfully collect debts.

How cloud helps debt collection contact centers

Cloud adoption in this sector is growing for several reasons. On one hand, cloud can help solve many common challenges in contact centers that collect debt. On the other hand, cloud can also create brand new opportunities and deliver various upside improvements. Here’s a look at what cloud brings to contact centers engaged in debt collection.

  • agility – cloud-based tools can be used anywhere; this means agents can work remotely from any location; contact centers can also access wider talent pools to hire agents in different cities or countries; cloud technology for the contact center can be managed, monitored and updated as necessary from anywhere at anytime 
  • costs – cloud-based contact centers don’t bear the upfront capital expense of installing, maintaining and upgrading hardware on-prem; since cloud billing is consumption-based, contact centers don’t get stuck with paying the fixed, long-term costs of unused cloud capacity
  • scalability – cloud is provided as a needs-based subscription service, so capacity can easily be scaled up or down as the contact center’s workload fluctuates; since agents can work remotely, these fluctuations don’t require constant adjustments in resource capacity like office space, desk phones and IT hardware
  • deployment time – while on-prem contact centers require hardware installation which could take weeks, some cloud solutions can be up and running within hours
  • integration – cloud-based apps and platforms use APIs for easy integration with many existing tools such as CRM and ERP software
  • customization – many APIs also allow cloud-based tools to be customized to your contact center’s specific needs
  • interoperability – cloud technology is often designed to work across various types of devices and operating systems
  • visibility – most cloud solutions feature a dashboard to monitor data across all contact center operations from anywhere in real time; this gives agents and managers an at-a-glance picture of contact center data that is constantly updated; managers can assess agent performance in real time and provide immediate feedback and assistance if necessary; operational issues can be spotted and dealt with immediately
  • analytics – cloud-based analytics software collects and analyzes data throughout the contact center to spot patterns in workloads and performance; predictive analytics uses AI to help the contact center forecast trends and adjust operations (like agent staffing levels) accordingly
  • functionality – some contact center apps and features can only be deployed via cloud, such as click-to-call, smart IVR and live call monitoring
  • reach – although on-prem contact centers can use multiple channels (phone, mail, email, text, etc.), cloud enables omnichannel, which fully integrates all channels in a seamless way to improve user experience for contact center agents and the debtors they communicate with
  • continuity – unlike on-prem systems, cloud-based solutions don’t have to be taken offline for maintenance and upgrades; during power outages, contact center data stored and backed up in the cloud can still be accessed from anywhere; cloud providers monitor network performance 24/7 and guarantee a high level of uptime availability in their SLAs

Further benefits of cloud computing were outlined in a 2021 survey:

  • two-thirds of on-prem contact centers feel limited by their current solutions
  • 70% of cloud-powered contact centers say cloud has improved their analytics capabilities
  • more than 90% of contact centers have invested in features enabled by cloud (i.e., chatbots, social media channels, business intelligence platforms)
  • more than 60% of cloud-powered contact centers say cloud has improved employee empowerment in terms of flexible work scheduling, better training and more performance feedback

Best practices for debt collection contact centers

It takes more than cloud technology to operate a successful debt collection contact center. The following best practices can help you run an effective, cost-efficient contact center with low agent turnover and high debt recovery rates.

train (and retrain) agents well: Agents are the core of your operations, so train them thoroughly in your policies and techniques, as well as in regulatory laws. Since clients, creditors, technologies and regulations are constantly changing, make sure training is provided for all agents on an ongoing basis rather than just for new hires.

go omnichannel: Communicating with creditors via their preferred channels increases debt recovery rates. For example, debtors who prefer digital communication make 12 per cent more payments when contacted through digital channels than those contacted through traditional ones.

be compliant: Debt collection contact centers must abide by a complex set of regulations ranging from HIPAA and telephone harassment to PIPEDA and secure payment processing. These rules can vary by state or local jurisdiction. To avoid being slapped with fines and complaints, inform your agents of regulatory updates in a timely manner and use compliance software that audits and automatically updates your systems and policies whenever laws change.

Additionally, call quality is equally critical in improving the debt collection experience, which otherwise can frustrate the customer and disrupt the flow of the call altogether. To avoid causing such inconvenience to both your agent and customer, it is important that your call managing platform is connected to a global voice carrier like IDT BYOC that is reliable, agile, scalable, and enables seamless voice experience throughout.

To understand how IDT BYOC can enhance your customer experience, please get in touch with our Debt Collection Voice Experts.

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