I want to take you back about 10 years. I was a VP of strategy and analytics for a third party collection company and they’d sent me to a strategy workshop. The group was asked by the moderator, “What accounts are most important to you?” The group started offering up responses like “accounts with the highest balance” and “accounts with the most recent last payment date.” My experience had been working with recovery scoring models so my response was, “The most important accounts to me are those with the highest recovery scores because they are most likely to pay.” Then the moderator offered a perspective that changed my approach from then on. He said, “The accounts that are most important to me are those in which I can get the right person on the line.” There are a variety of operational behaviors that you can choose to make—or not make—when determining your collections strategy and how much effort you put toward recovery. But the bottom line is this: if you’re not connecting to the right party contact (RPC), you’re not closer to collecting on the account. If you have an A account that you can’t get ahold of, but you have an RPC for a B account, and they’re willing to negotiate repayment of the debt, which account is more important to your business? Obviously the B account with the right party contact. I took that mindset back to work with me. After validating the idea with my own data, I adjusted my strategy and over time, it grew into what I’m going to share with you here: a strategy of constants that combines your scored inventory, the data you’ve acquired to support your treatment and the staffing resources you have available to assign to the portfolio. This approach will help you prioritize your resources to produce more RPCs and successfully close them once contact is made.
High-skilled collections agents
You want your best collectors on your most important accounts. That means that once a right party contact is made, the account funnels straight to these agents to follow up—regardless of priority group. Plus, this group works all of your A group accounts. The average- and low-skilled agents in a collections firm are like pistons in an engine pumping right party contacts to the high-skilled agent inventory. The high-skilled agents should be making all of their contacts in a manual dial environment—your top priority accounts should never be on a predictive dialer. You want to avoid all miscommunication introduced by a timed call that could lead to losing prospective customers. Once that framework is laid out, establish penetration targets based on your available workforce. The diagram below outlines our recommendations for penetration rates at each stage of the process.
Average-skilled collections agents
These team members should be reaching out to landline accounts from alpha groups B, C and D that have not been previously contacted. At this stage the agents need to be using a predictive dialer, which means they are skilled enough to determine the disposition of a call within 5 seconds of termination. Low-skilled collections agents
These are typically the newest members of your team. Assign these folks to the group B, C and D wireless accounts that have yet to be contacted. Wireless or cell phones dial slower so it gives these agents the opportunity to get used to typing and talking at the same time. They can familiarize themselves with your collections software and systems, and hone their skills while working TCPA compliant inventory. A strategy is a plan, or a set of predetermined choices that you make so you don’t have to recreate the wheel each day—you work your constants. That strategy should comprise all the tools at your disposal from scores to data to staff, and each should be used to their best ability. But your strategy constants are only one part of an effective collections operation. For more detailed step-by-step instructions, read 10 Steps to Drive More Profitable Collections Operations.