Every collections manager knows there are finite resources with which to do the job. As extraordinary economic circumstances bite, this can put a detrimental amount of pressure on the collections function. The traditional solutions, recruitment and outsourcing, have their benefits but don’t always provide the desired flexibility or immediacy, and they can be costly.
Capacity and resources are always a constraint on results, and fluctuating debt cycles means that simply increasing capacity can result in too many hands on deck in quieter times. The time it takes to recruit or outsource can result in a damaging lag and in additional costs for onboarding and training. So, how can you achieve the elastic capacity that would make the department more responsive to sudden changes in demand without incurring revenue-sapping costs?
3 steps to quickly increase capacity:
1. Free up the workforce.
Remove a significant proportion of contact centre workload via low cost, high-performance digital channel. Expand collections to be a 24/7 operation that doesn’t rely solely on contact centre opening hours. With fewer easy-to-resolve cases to deal with, agents can turn their attention to customers in difficulty who really need their help or where revenue is more difficult to recover. Let automation take the strain.
2. Use what you know about your customers.
Employ collections-specific machine learning to maximise the value of your existing data and create targeted, appropriate customer journeys ensuring optimal treatment for every customer at the right time. Use data to inform and support agents, offering enhanced and consistent decision-making capabilities that continually optimise in light of new outcomes.
3. Make it easy.
Build a collections process that mirrors today’s preferences for immediate, always-on service. Offer a self-service digital option at a fraction of the cost of unpopular telephone calling and letters. Make space for customers to disclose difficult or vulnerable circumstances where applicable, promoting trust and fulfilling duty of care regulations. Where a financial statement is needed, save time and effort by offering an online I&E form for customers to complete independently.
When customers need or want to speak to an agent, ensure agents have a holistic view of each customer and smart guidance that makes every interaction timely, appropriate and consistent. Conversely, don’t overwhelm your agents with data that is not relevant to the engagement make every interaction targeted, concise and efficient.
Today, organisations can adopt an incremental, benefits-driven, digital-first approach with minimal risk and a substantially quicker time to value. This is a prudent alternative to recruitment and outsourcing that, in times of economic uncertainty, delivers an all-important elastic capacity and a competitive cost to serve and doesn’t short change on customer service or protecting customers in vulnerable circumstances.