Call centres are at the heart of collections departments. Agents play a crucial role in answering past-due customers’ questions, encouraging swift repayments, and in general, ensuring a positive customer experience (CX).
But running a successful collections call centre is not easy. Agents are currently dealing with rising call volumes while working with one hand tied behind their backs, grappling with incomplete data and inadequate tools. Heads of collections are unable to test collections strategies or assess their impact. Therefore, they are seeing a poor return on investment (ROI) from their call centre efforts.
Fortunately, there is a solution: AI-driven software. It makes agents vastly more efficient, improving both employee and customer satisfaction in the process:
- The global AI contact centre software market is expected to increase in value from $800 million in 2019 to $2.8 billion by 2024.
- Customer satisfaction is 61% higher when agents work in tandem with AI-based software solutions;
- One company was even able to reduce its call centre headcount by 25% while maintaining productivity.
By improving call centre efficiency, your agents can spend more time dealing with customers who need the most help. They can dedicate their time and attention to providing vital human-to-human guidance, gently walking past-due customers through the process of repaying what they owe.
This post will briefly examine the problem that collections call centres currently face before directly mapping out how software can help.
The current hurdles that call centres encounter
Call centres are not yet delivering their full value. There are multiple reasons why this is.
- Lack of adequate resources
Call centre agents are not magicians. You can invest heavily in training call agents—but if they do not have the correct tools for the job, this will all be for nothing. For example, if agents lack the right contact details, then they cannot get in touch with past-due customers. Wrong phone numbers, emails, and customer payment data mean that agents spend more time chasing past-due customers and less time actually speaking to them (or resolving their issues).
It has been reported that 34% of agents lack the right data to resolve their customers’ issues. Think about that for a second. One out of every three agents is unable to do their job because they simply do not have the right data to hand. Or, perhaps your company does indeed have this data but it is siloed, stuck in another system or tool.
This has to change, fast.
- Difficulties setting up payment resolutions
When customers do get through to an agent, they must be able to swiftly resolve their issue. This is a no-brainer. However, as things stand, 74% of customer service leaders admit that they are not empowering their agents with the right tools for the job.
Imagine a past-due customer rings up an agent and explains that they want to pay their outstanding debt in instalments. Great. Thing is, the agent needs a tool in front of them that allows them to update the customer’s information—and repayment plan—accordingly.
Or perhaps the agent rings up the past-due customer and asks to take their billing/card details over the phone. Understandably, the customer might be hesitant to divulge their payment details to a stranger over the phone. The entire process grinds to a halt. The only alternative is to set up a wire transfer with their bank, but this is tedious and time-consuming.
But what if the agent could send over a URL redirecting the customer to a secure self-service landing page? This offers the best of both worlds: privacy for the customer and swift repayment for the collections agency.
- An inability to test and evaluate strategies
Data analysis is the bedrock of modern collections departments. If collections leaders want to fine-tune their operations, eradicating wasted spend and pouring more investment into successful strategies, then they need to test and evaluate their strategies on an ongoing basis.
Expenses stack up and are obvious for all to see. Call centres are not cheap. 78% of collections leaders currently cite employee salaries as a major cost, while direct mail—despite being widely considered inefficient—is a major expense for 39% of collections departments. But without success metrics to compare these expenses against, it is hard to prove the return on investment.
Heads of collections are accountable for their call centre’s performance. They must therefore find a way to gain complete visibility into daily operations, accessing key metrics like first contact resolution, average handling time, abandonment rate, customer satisfaction, and more.
So how can they do this? By implementing collections software.
4 ways software improves collections call centre efficiency
Cloud-based tools, artificial intelligence, and programmable CX solutions all in the call centre leads to a reported 121% improvement in customer effort score (i.e. customer satisfaction). Therefore, it is unsurprising that 83% of contact centres are looking to leverage AI technology to improve their CX.
But how exactly does this work? Well, there are four primary ways in which software improves collections call centre efficiency.
1. Verifies data
Implementing software that verifies the accuracy of your data—or that easily integrates with a third-party verification software—leads to less wasted time, money, and effort, and more overall collections success. In fact, a mere 1% improvement in first call response rate leads to a staggering $276,000 worth of operational savings for contact centres.
2. Improves the CX
With the right software solution, agents can provide past-due customers with a range of repayment options. They provide self-service functionality, allowing hesitant past-due customers to take control over their own repayments. They let users easily craft landing pages themselves in minutes without having to consult with IT, wait for them to make any necessary changes, and finally get in touch with the relevant customers.
And thanks to embedded finance, consumers can deal with one company throughout the entirety of their path to repayment. Agents do not need to redirect them here, there, and everywhere—the process is simple and straightforward.
3. Revolutionises reporting
The best collections software constantly gathers, updates, and reports the latest success metrics—such as the total amount of active claims or digital communication KPIs like first contact resolution. These metrics are then displayed in one single source of truth: easy-to-view dashboards.
This affords heads of collections complete visibility into how their call centre is performing. As a result, they can assess (and communicate) the ROI of their efforts, identify areas where their team is underperforming, and devise new strategies to combat these poor results.
4. Allows you to ditch direct mail and reduce outbound calls
Just half of phone calls and over half of all dunning letters are ignored entirely, with digital repayment methods proven to be twice as effective at encouraging customers to repay in full. Implementing a digital-first software solution will allow you to transition away from costly, ineffective direct communications once and for all.
According to Stephan Schuller, a seasoned collections expert: «… if you increase the efficiency rate, [you might reduce] 100 hours outbound calls. It’s so much more efficient and you’re not losing any money as long as you do it in the correct way, [which will provide you] smart segmented data and analytical driven [insights]. Then, there’s no need to call [customers]”.
Send out thousands of digital outreach messages in a single click, each with personalised messaging as well as payment options, rather than making multiple agents spend hours manually posting mail or making calls.
Lead the call centre into the 21st century
Call centres are still an important element of collections departments since not all customers will embrace technology. Asking customers to repay what they owe can be tricky and awkward—especially when your agents lack the necessary information or tools to provide a smooth CX.
The solution is to optimise your call centre, introducing AI-driven software so that your best-trained, most-skilled agents can spend more time speaking to customers—and less time chasing up the right data or consulting with IT to set up payment resolutions.
This benefits both your agents and your customers. Better still, it means heads of collections can access a wealth of constantly updated KPIs—making reporting, analysing, and fine-tuning strategies a walk in the park.
Software will decrease operating costs and increase collections success rates. What are you waiting for? Book a demo with receeve to get started.
Jan is one of the first members of the receeve team, and has become an expert on the fintech industry, particularly digitising collections and accounts receivable processes. He is a talented multi-disciplinary professional with immense drive to bring modern technologies and processes into financial services.