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How to Avoid ‘Analysis Paralysis’ When Assessing Collector Productivity

It can be very easy for collection agencies to get bogged down in what is known as “analysis paralysis” when attempting to figure out the productivity of collectors, because there are so many different data points and variables that can be factored into an equation. But just because there are so many data points does not mean they are all important, and each agency is going to have to do its own calculations to figure out what works best for them, a panel of agency executives said recently during a webinar that was sponsored by Peak Revenue Learning.

The webinar, entitled “Maximizing Collector Productivity” featured Irene Hoheusle of Account Recovery Specialists, Roger Weiss of CACi, and Greg Ruffino from Williams & Fudge.

Collector productivity is an incredibly important measure that often speaks to the success or failure of an agency. Productive collectors are the fuel that keeps an agency’s engine running smoothly and agencies can never afford to run out of gas.

“There are a lot of supervisors and managers, especially newer to their position who want to measure 30 or 40 or 50 different data points and key performance indicators,” Weiss said during the webinar, a recording of which can be accessed here. “And what that can actually do is peel away from a collector’s productivity. There’s a rule of productivity that says if you focus on something, it will improve. However, if you focus on everything, you focus on nothing and entropy will set in and you’ll go through sprawl.”

To avoid that situation, Weiss recommends focusing on a small number of KPIs, such as close rate and average payments. Those data points transcend the type of debt being collected, the number of times the debt has been placed, and even the size of the agency itself, Weiss said.

Another key metric that many agencies should be relying on to determine collector productivity is the number of payments in full (PIF) that they are obtaining. Hoheusle said that her firm went as far as to create a contest that offered a $150 bonus to the individual who collected the most PIFs during a two-week period. What Hohuesle noticed at the end of the contest was that even though the number of PIFs had not increased that much, what did “skyrocket” was the dollar amount of the payment plans that the collectors had negotiated, she said.

“It went from an average of about $80 a month to $150 a month,” Hoheusle said. “And I think that was because when [the collectors] were saying these things, the consumer found the expectations of a payment plan was higher when they were asking for payment in full more often.”

The flip side to trying to maximize collector productivity is that unproductive collectors can often be identified. Williams & Fudge was analyzing the call times that its collectors were averaging when on the phone with individuals and it noticed that one collector had an average call time of less than a minute. When it listened to the recordings of those calls, the agency found out that it wasn’t the individuals hanging up on the collector, it was the other way around, Ruffino said.

“You’ve got to have a good temperature gauge on your staff and the individuals and the overall company culture and budgets as to when and how you deploy certain incentives,” Ruffino said. “There’s lots of incentives that have no dollar value, like parking spaces and things of that nature. But when you’re getting into tapping into the budgets, it’s all about timing. So things don’t lose their luster if you’re doing something every week or every month that has some sort of dollar value to it.”

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