The Importance and Impact of Phone Agent Quality Assurance

The debt collection industry plays a major role in ensuring that we have a functioning financial system. According to ACA International, agencies recovered $44.9 billion of debt in 2013 available for repayment to creditors.

Clearly this was the result of a considerable amount of work by skilled debt collection agents, as this represents $44.9 billion worth of debt they collected that the original lenders were unable to convince their creditors to pay. Indeed the average household would have to pay an additional $389 per year for goods and services if the debt collection industry were not able to recover what it does and firms were forced to raise their prices to compensate.

However as with every industry, there is a wide variation in the skill levels demonstrated by different agents. There are experienced, knowledgeable, talented agents who can just about convince any creditor to pay as much as they possibly can. There are beginning agents still learning their trade. There are hard-working agents who have yet to fully hone their skills. Then there are the less competent agents who struggle to provide convincing reasons to creditors as to why they should pay a cent.

If you operate a debt collection agency, you undoubtedly want your agents to be performing at the highest possible level of their capabilities. You will want to know if any of your staff are underachieving, in need of additional training and help, or indeed, if you are employing any of the industrys least competent agents.

I am sure you are aware that there is a strong correlation between professional agents, correctly reading their clients true situations and acting appropriately, and the level of debt repayment received. Being able to evaluate all of your agents calls, rather than just a sample of one call per agent per week, clearly has a hugely positive impact on a companys ROI.

What is Phone Agent Quality Assurance?

Agent quality assurance predominantly involves monitoring calls made by an organisations agents and comparing how the agent is performing against that agencys codes and best practices. Agencies use quality assurance in all types of call centre operation, not just debt collection.

Obviously in a phone-based setting, this will include call monitoring as the phone call is the main means of communication between the agent and the client. Intelligent automatic quality monitoring using predictive voice analytics software can very much streamline this data collection process, ensuring that you always have a comprehensive sample (indeed it can be the entirety) of your calls recorded and available to be analysed.

Of course, for this to work there first needs to be standards, guidelines and practises for agents to follow. Before an agency can assure themselves that their agents meet a certain quality level they need first to determine what that quality level is. Does your firm have a code of best practices that your agents should be following? What actually is a high-quality agent in your organisation? How exactly would your ideal employee operate? If you look at your top agents now, what distinguishes them from your less-capable agents?

What Does Phone Agent Quality Assurance Involve?

The key purpose of agent quality assurance is to improve your agents performance when dealing with clients. Debt collection agents, like many employees, often view such monitoring somewhat skeptically. It is important to stress to them that you are not out on some vendetta or a witch-hunt. The automated call monitoring is not an attempt to catch them out or to find fault. You need to convincingly communicate to your agents that quality assurance is a process that is used to help them improve their performance.

It is all about frequent monitoring and adjustment. It is not about passing a once-a-year inspection and then reverting to the old ways when nobody is looking. It focuses on constant improvement.

Of course, your agents do need buy-in to the system. They have to determine personal performance goals. It helps if they understand that predictive voice analytics provides an automated tool which can help determine how well each employee is performing as they work towards their goals.

This does, of course, mean that there needs to be an important follow-up to the quality assurance data collection. It is all very well isolating faults and errors of procedure by agents in their dealing with customers, but that is not of much use if you do not provide training and assistance to agents, to ensure that they know what they need to change and how to go about doing it.

You need to schedule to do this on a regular basis. In particular, you need to follow-up your under-achieving agents. Are they implementing suggested changes? If not, why not? Are they struggling to implement recommendations?

Coaching and training are as vital a part of quality assurance as measuring, recording and reporting. It is probable that good quality coaching and training are self-funding, with well-trained agents most likely bringing in higher collections than they did previously.

Obtaining Feedback

Feedback is a vital part of any quality assurance program. This includes feedback from clients (both those who you successfully arrange payment from and those where your agents are unsuccessful), feedback for the actual monitoring process itself, and feedback from the agents themselves. How do they feel they are performing?

Indeed, as feedback is a two-way process, any feedback given to the agents as part of their training is also vital to the process of quality improvement. This may be one-to-one or, more generically, in a group setting.

Feedback received also helps design and prioritise the specific training that you give to your agents. It may even be beneficial to allow your best achievers to work with some of the poorer achievers, to provide them with practical feedback and assistance, helping them to improve their performance.

Impact of Phone Agent Quality Assurance

Ideally, the main impact of agent quality assurance is an increased rate of collection from customers. Dealing with creditors can be a difficult business, particular because it involves handling many emotions. All parties, clients owing money and debt collection agents, are human beings with the same emotional entanglements as anyone else. On any particular day, either party may be simply having a bad day which has an adverse effect on the credit collection. By ensuring that your agents follow predetermined best practices, and by using agent quality assurance techniques to help with this, you are well on the way to maximising your collection from your customers.

What can you do to ensure that your agents consistently perform at their peak level, correctly reading their clients true situations and act appropriately? This is where predictive voice analytics helps. You have the automated data related to every call made, which you can use to help your agents improve their performance, and in turn increase the collections made. Rank Miner Predictive Analytics is a leader in this space.Click below to download a free case study that will provide you with more information about this product.

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