By Alex Villafranca – On
“What the **** is going on with the phones? This is like the tenth time this week.”
“This debt sucks! I need more of the good stuff or I won’t hit my goal.”
If you’ve been in the collections industry for any length of time, you’ve heard these complaints. But, it’s not the little problems that people latch onto as much as the excuses. And it’s usually not the debt.
When those are bad, they certainly don’t help, but the main problem is mostly a matter of motivation. It’s an old problem: how do you motivate a collector to excel? It won’t happen overnight. We've learned a few motivational techniques in the business - here are our favorite five.
5. Get a New View
Using total collections as a goal is simple, but it does make most days feel slow. Exceeding the goal and growing the numbers is unsustainable. If total collections is the only number collectors see, they'll quickly get disheartened and feel as if they're in a hopeless grind. Give them instead a new perspective by adopting a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) system. This way to measure productivity is equally rewarding and smooths out the slow points.
4. Let Collectors Share Ideas
It only takes a few minutes each day to talk about specific accounts, how they closed them, and new techniques that work. They are the ones making the calls all day, and they can develop incredibly valuable rebuttals and specific knowledge that is worth money. The collectors like it because they feel they have somewhere to turn, they are contributing more than just time, and they get praise from their peers for success, which is a powerful psychological tool that motivates people to do extraordinary things.
3. Generate Inbound Calls
You’re paying your collectors to collect, which is when they’re most valuable, not to do menial soul-crushing tasks that waste everyone’s time and make them feel like cogs grinding in a rusty machine. Use a dialer (hosted dialer) to keep the calls flowing in and your collectors on the phone, even if only to break up the monotony of the day. Run a campaign on accounts that haven’t been worked in a while, even if slowly in the background. These can end up getting payments you otherwise would have missed.
2. Taking Time Out
This one is not for everyone, but there is sufficient evidence that working fewer hours overall makes the hours when collectors do work more productive to the point that you are paying less and getting more. Many agencies are hiring strictly part time employees. They are seeing many of these collectors being as productive as full-time employees. In college, I worked four hours a day at an agency and was consistently on top for that entire year. I think this is because I didn’t mind going to work, and it was easy to work nonstop for those four hours (and I was the king of picking up dialer calls :D).
1. Put it on Display
Displaying office KPIs for all to see is tremendous motivation, because nothing is hidden or assumed, and it is more consistent (and less expensive) than giving away cash or prizes. You can brew some healthy competition by getting a KPI dashboard and having a meter for calls made, accounts worked, dialer calls answered, or any data you have access to. Collectors tend to be competitive by nature, so they will want to be on top, especially if you make it clear every day that you are paying attention to the numbers and praise the top performers (and maybe a little shame to the bottom).
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