At what point does a statistic become too benign or obscure to be relevant? I often wonder that and I remember some great lines from the movie, “Little Big League.” The announcer in that movie, who is calling games for the Minnesota Twins, throws off some great stats that sound amazing but are completely irrelevant. One of my favorites is:
“Last year though, he was 6th in the American League in hitting right-handers he was facing for the first time, after the seventh inning, at home.”
That’s great for him, but is a manager really going to consider something that obscure when deciding whether to let the guy bat in a close game? Probably not.
A panel of collection agency experts gathered last week during a webinar sponsored by Provana to discuss the importance of analytics in assessing and improving collector performance. No doubt, the amount of information available to executives in the ARM industry is far wider and deeper than it has ever been. But more important than the data itself is determining if there is a correlation between the data and the ultimate performance of the collection agent. It might be helpful to know what an agent ate for breakfast in the morning, but if it has no bearing on the agent’s performance in collecting debt, then is it useful?
One thing that the executives said is very useful is sharing the statistics with collection agents. Sharing the data not only ensures transparency and shows the agent what type of information is being used to judge his or her performance, but it also raises the level of competition in the office, giving agents the chance to top their co-workers.
“We want them to know what we are tracking,” said Mike Hiller, a vice president at American Profit Recovery and one of the webinar’s panelists. “They take stock in their own future.”
An interesting side effect of sharing performance data at CBE Companies has been agents who are now approaching co-workers who have better stats and asking them how they do it, said Kelli Krueger, vice president of organizational development at the company.
“The biggest thing we discovered is they started asking people who were better, ‘How are you converting so many calls?’ or ‘How are you making so many RPCs,’ ” Krueger said. “We want collectors who are going to own their own performance.”
An interesting data point that CBE tracks is how many times an agent approaches a manager or supervisor with questions about growth opportunities, Krueger said. Questions about advancement are a potential predictor of success, she said.
Ultimately, though, there are a few key statistics that will drive performance, said Nick Jarman, chief operations officer at Credit Collection Partners.
“Talk time is the statistic that makes the biggest difference,” Jarman said. “If you can increase that by 5%, it starts to move the needle. Agencies that focus on dialer efficiency — how many calls can they get to. Not every metric has value. You have to make sure you are providing agents with the most impactful data points.”