Rising to the unique challenges of debt collection call centres

/ Contact Centres

Debt collection call centres face some unique challenges. Call agents may be asked to contact vulnerable individuals. Calls are often aimed at recovering funds – not improving customer perception. Regulatory pressures can be significant, leading to a need to monitor and record calls for compliance purposes.

In a paper published in summer 2018 in the Journal of Politeness Research, Leigh Harrington of the University of Nottingham noted the potential volatility of debt collection call centre encounters and the need for flexibility to allow call agents to adapt to the complex demands of each call.

The researcher particularly pointed to the conflict between trying to develop rapport with the customer while simultaneously asking them to repay a debt – a paradox described as “helping you to pay us” – and the tensions that this can create.

However, there are debt collection call centre solutions to help you rise to meet these unique challenges. Daviker’s TouchStar Predictive Dialler, Workforce Management and Speech Analytics solutions combine to help you with FCA compliance and with the DMA’s guidelines on contacting vulnerable customers.

Together our debt collection call centre solutions monitor and record calls in a way that complies with regulations, while enabling auto-detection of calls that may require investigation and re-training of the call agent, and also allowing whisper coaching during live calls.

When is a customer not a customer?

The University of Nottingham research looked at calls made by a real UK firm, referred to in the paper by the pseudonym ‘Electrik’, and found its call agents were often required to combine debt collection and customer service into a single call – two disciplines that are largely opposed to one another in terms of linguistic tone.

Electrik’s data for these calls highlighted the problem this creates: “The recipient was referred to as a debtor 39.3% of the time and as a customer for the remaining 60.7% in the data itself. When a customer owes money, they do not cease to be a customer; instead they take on the additional identity of a debtor.”

This is important in debt collection call centres, where there is a need to provide debtors with clear information about what they owe, how and when to pay it, and any penalties that may have already been applied to their account, without overly ‘sugaring the pill’.

Many call centre agents are adept at finding the right balance between these competing tones of voice – and debt collection call centre solutions like Daviker’s are there to record the calls for compliance purposes and for training, as well as highlighting any calls that may have stepped outside of the acceptable boundaries.

Offering genuine support and coaching to struggling staff helps to improve employee retention, engagement and satisfaction rates, all while boosting productivity and exceeding targets on a more regular basis.

TouchStar Predictive Dialler can even be used to introduce a competitive element into your call centre, placing agents into teams and encouraging them to outperform each other – further enhancing productivity and staff morale, all while delivering a more positive experience to customers who have become debtors.