Analyzing the Conversations

By Brendan B. Read, Senior Contributing Editor  |  March 01, 2011

This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions

It is not enough anymore to monitor agents’ conversations with customers and then schedule coaching sessions. These interactions must be carefully analyzed with the aid of screen and speech analytics solutions. Firms that have done so have experienced improved performance and bottom-line results. Here is one such example:

Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group (HRRG), a division of TeamHealth, a large healthcare professional staffing and administrative services firm, provides medical debt collections services. HRRG has 74 agents, split between contact centers in Lathrop, Calif. and Plantation, Fla. Its focus is on improving revenue recovery while retaining patient customers.

HRRG needed a cost-effective, systematic means of monitoring and assessing agent performance that would provide a sound basis to coach and train agents to achieve those goals. It found monitoring alone was not adequate in identifying which agent skills were crucial to increasing collections revenue and in measuring usage of those key skills.

The firm turned to speech analytics, as the solution would enable it to automatically “listen” to 100 percent of its calls and assess agent performance in a completely objective manner. Only with such comprehensive and objective monitoring could small changes in agent usage of key skills be immediately and accurately measured.

In November 2009, HRRG chose Utopy’s ( Collections Optimization, a speech analytics solution built on the Utopy SpeechMiner platform that is specially formulated to improve delinquent accounts collection. It includes a knowledgebase of key collections skills and the phrases spoken by agents when leveraging those abilities. It has dashboards, analytics, reports and alerts which measure and monitor skills usage. Utopy Collections Optimization also includes Utopy Intelligent Coaching products that permit supervisors to easily create targeted and individualized training, both coached and self-learned.

The Utopy solution software was installed and configured in December 2009 followed by initial identification of critical agent skills and tuning the system. It went live in February 2010.

HRRG set out two metrics to improve: collections revenue and phone payment rates. It pinpointed their top- and bottom-performing agents in terms of revenue collected. Then Utopy identified the skills that best differentiated them. It discovered that HRRG’s top performers utilized specific techniques much more often than the company’s bottom performers. For example, top performers created urgency more than twice as often, suggested a payment plan almost three times as often and suggested reimbursement nearly four times as often as bottom performers.

Utopy recommended that HRRG train all of its agents on critical collections skills, which took place in mid-June 2010. The firm then advised focusing ongoing training and coaching efforts on these skills by coaching bottom performers to utilize the techniques more often and training new agents on effectively leveraging the key abilities.

HRRG agents practiced their skills in role plays and were evaluated with real customer calls during training, coaching and self-learning sessions until the agents became very proficient with them. Agents are encouraged to recommend their calls for “Best Practice Libraries” which are managed by Intelligent Coaching and agents can win a gift card if their call is selected. HRRG also runs other contests to create excitement about and maintain focus on the key skills.

The Utopy solution began having immediate and dramatic impacts. The results far exceeded expectations thanks in considerable part to the Utopy solution. Actual revenue was 20 percent more than the expected revenue every month after the ramp-up period, which translated to an additional $3,234 in revenue collected by each agent each month. Key skill usage improved over 13 percent, prompting 32.5 percent more phone payments.

HRRG has many plans for further leveraging its Utopy speech analytics solution. It hopes to utilize speech analytics to detect all incidences of non-compliance and immediately alert management of the occurrence. Also, in the same way that speech analytics identified the key collections skills and helped train and coach agents on those skills, the key compliance skills can be identified, taught and learned. 

“Utopy enables HRRG to measure and monitor agent performance on every call, in exactly the same way for each agent, which was impossible for us to do previously using traditional methods,” says David Friedlander, vice president of operations at HRRG.

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi