Companies in the accounts receivable management industry have had to get creative during the past couple of years, starting with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and now dealing with the impact of The Great Resignation, and while technology has helped offset shortages in labor or changes to workflows, thinking outside of the box is also crucial to a company’s success in today’s market, according to panelists who participated in a webinar recently that was sponsored by Peak Revenue Learning.
Making sure that your agency has enough agents to cover inbound and outbound call volumes is harder today than it has ever been. Between agents who are working remotely and the fallout from The Great Resignation, the pieces to an agency’s labor puzzle are tougher to connect than ever before. A good first step for any agency, according to the panelists, though, is to analyze your data to determine your peak calling periods, and make sure you have enough coverage during those timeframes.
“Right now, there are three peak calling timeframes — in the morning between 8am and 9:30am, between noon and 1:30pm, and after five o’clock,” said Mike Hiller, vice president of collections at American Profit Recovery. “Once you do the math, you can figure out what your peak periods are, how many peak periods you’re hitting, and how much you collect during those periods. There’s a multiplying effect, depending on how many how much staff you have, of how much more revenue you can generate just by making some very minor tweaks. But do do the math.”
Another way that agencies can use technology to help maximize employee productivity while also covering potential labor shortages is through their payment portals. Driving consumers to a portal to obtain information or to make payments means that one less agent is tied up managing a conversation that could just as easily be handled in a self-service portal, said Elyssa Klenotiz, chief of staff at CCMR3.
“We encourage our agents to mention our payment portal [and tell consumers they] can go there they can visit all the time,” Klenotiz said. “When we do voicemail drops, and we leave regular voicemails, we also mention going to our website because that catches money, you know, 24 hours a day. Our portal functions like it’s another four to five agents depending on the day of the week. So having things like a portal that’s integrated with your system that has the real-time balance information becomes really important. And if you can take it to the next level where you’re even offering you know, partial settlements and things like that, then you’re really making your portal extremely productive.”
Technology has also helped companies looking to accelerate and streamline the hiring process. More agencies are using scheduling services like Calendly to allow applicants to schedule their own interviews, rather than have back-and-forth conversations via email or a phone call to try and set up a job interview.
Another area of technology that companies should be using is controlling the number of outgoing calls being made by their automated telephone dialing systems, said Dan Medina, Director of Operations at Gulf Coast Collection Bureau. The agency monitors performance of its collectors on an hourly basis, allowing it to pace the flow of calls being made by the dialer to maximize the amount being collected at any given point in time.
“We went from managing our pacing monthly to daily today of the week to now hourly,” Medina said. “You’re not leaving all the work to be done the last few days of the month, you know, praying, praying, praying for a miracle type of situation. We know where we expect to be at the end of the month, given all the current work and situations that we’re looking at right now.”