BPA Featured Article

Getting Top Dollar from Debt Collection

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC
August 21, 2017

Consumer debt is at all all-time high here in the United States. The Federal Reserve earlier this month released a report indicating that Americans had $1.021 trillion in credit card debt in June.

That’s up from $1.02 trillion in April of 2008, the time at which consumer debt hit its previous high mark. And revolving credit debt, as it’s called, has been growing 4.9 percent annually.

“This year, total household debt – including housing, auto loans, and student-loan debt – in the U.S. also surpassed the 2008 peak,” MarketWatch noted in an Aug. 8 posting. “While the debt level is similar to 2008, the things Americans are buying on credit have changed, as household incomes have increased in recent years, and housing prices and stock prices have improved. Compared with 2008, fewer borrowers have housing-related debt and, instead, more have taken on auto and student loans.”

Here are a few other debt-related statistics:

• The average U.S. household has more than $16,000 in credit card debt, according to a 2016 CNBC report.

• Unpaid medical debt is the No. 1 cause of U.S. bankruptcy, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

• About 30 million Americans have at least one debt in collections, according to a 2014 CNN report.

That’s bad for those in debt. And it’s not great for the rest of us.

“Indeed the average household would have to pay an additional $389 per year for goods and services if the debt collection industry were not able to recover what it does and firms were forced to raise their prices to compensate,” according to a blog by call center predictive analytics solution provider Rank Miner.

These recovery efforts typically come in the form of outbound calls to those with the debt. While being a call center agent itself is no easy task, working the phones for debt recovery seems to be an even more challenging proposition. So, for best results, organizations in the debt recovery business should work closely with their contact center agents.

The first order of business, however, is for organizations to create a list of best practices, guidelines, and standards for their agents to follow, the blog notes. Then those organizations can monitor agent calls for quality assurance to weigh how they stack up against those standards.

Predictive voice analytics software, the company adds, can be part of the effort. It allows for sampling and analysis of recorded calls.

Rank Miner offers the following tips for the most effective quality assurance contact center experience:

• Explain to agents that quality assurance efforts are not punitive but rather to improve performance companywide and individually. 

• After agents get feedback, do followups to make sure they’re following the advice they’ve been provided.

• Make feedback a two-way process. Ask agents where they need help, what they feel is in need of improvement, and – if relevant – why they are not following advice or guidelines and how you can help them to do so.

Edited by Maurice Nagle