Speech Analytics Among Technology Solutions Helping Agents Boost Recovery Rates During Tax Season

The following is a article brought to you by Castel, a company that specializes in providing technology solutions, including speech analytics, to call centers across the globe. Learn more about Castel at www.castel.com.

For the collections industry, this time of year is Black Friday, March Madness, and the Super Bowl, all rolled into one. It’s that time of year when consumers file their income tax returns, and millions of Americans are sent tax refunds — money that can be used to pay down old debts.

Collection agencies have been gearing up for this annual rite, and maximizing recovery rates is more important than ever. By some estimates, agencies can make as much as 60% of their annual profit during the February/March timeframe — an opportunity that can not afford to be left behind.

Conventional wisdom may be to throw people at the opportunity – hire more staff, work longer hours, but that can be inefficient. Training costs are significant and there is a steep learning curve when it comes to turning a new hire into an effective agent. So the more sophisticated agencies turn to technology. Technology can be the great differentiator and what separates the agencies who make the most of tax season from those who squander the opportunity.

Companies implementing new technology solutions are aware that roll-outs do not always go smoothly. To ensure that businesses are best set and ready for peak seasons, call centers can reduce their risks by implementing and tuning solutions months in advance.

Agencies using live speech analytics are cashing in on the opportunity to make payment arrangements with a customer who refers to a recently received or pending tax refund during a conversation with an agent. An agent may also introduce the subject to the customer as an option and scripting can be suggested to the agent during the call to help pull on that thread.

Normally, live speech analytics may more commonly be used as a compliance tool to raise red flags, such as when a customer may be trying to bait an agent into saying something that can be used in a lawsuit against the agency, or to remind an agent to verify a customer, or deliver a necessary disclosure before continuing a discussion.

“We are very interested in live analytics,” said Join Viggiano with Simons Agency in Liverpool, N.Y. “I like the live coaching aspect of it and that real-time suggestions can be made.”

Tax refund season is also a good time to expand the pool of consumers that are being contacted, executives at a number of collection agencies said. Most agencies are scoring accounts based on the likelihood that the consumer will make a payment; but with millions of tax refunds being mailed out, it might make sense to call some of those lower-scoring accounts, too. Because even they get a tax refund.

“It’s all about strategy and process,” to make sure an agency is positioned to maximize recovery rates at this time of year, said Shawn Yates, vice president of healthcare services at IC System, a collection agency based in Minnesota. “The revenue jump,” for agencies that do it right is “amazing.”

With an air of uncertainty surrounding how agents can use the telephone to contact customers, a number of agencies reported sending out more letters this year than in years past, and the return rates on those letters has been better than expected.

Agents have to understand that, in many cases, the customers that they are trying to contact are likely receiving calls and letters from other collection agencies, too.

While some agency executives caution against rolling out new technology or systems at this time of year, others feel that there is never a bad time to test something.

Said Ed Saleh, CEO of Acer Capital Recovery in Tonawanda, N.Y.: “There is too much at stake for collection agencies at this time of year to not do everything they can to maximize their returns.”

Again, a special thank you to Castel for sponsoring this article series. Please visit them at www.castel.com.

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