We have had some difficulty over the years coming up with meaningful performance metrics for individual collectors due to the unique nature of our office’s organization. We have never considered ourselves a true call center so using the typical calls per hour type of measurement was not an ideal solution. Each collector is responsible for receiving incoming calls, making outgoing manual calls and assisting walk-in customers, along with various other administrative tasks. Trying to mold hard and fast daily/weekly/monthly individual goals was not something we concerned ourselves with; it was all a team effort. If there was a performance problem with an individual staff member, we simply held the belief that it would present itself in other ways.
Our office’s objective was simply to collect the most amount of money for each client, striving for 100% or better of the total dollars referred for that month, so as to dip into the well of past debt. As long as we were meeting those team goals, everyone benefited. This approach worked extremely well for us when our office consisted of two to three people. There was enough honest interaction amongst the staff that if someone felt that the other wasn’t pulling their weight it was simply a matter for discussion and resolution. Since we expanded to six staff members and as staff has changed over the years, a need for more individualized performance goals was needed.
Our phone system was upgraded a few years ago to have automated routing of incoming calls based on collector availability. This gave us the capability to monitor incoming and outgoing calls, call times, break times etc. Determining a reasonable minimum threshold was still difficult. We initially set a goal of 10 calls per/hour. Given that most outgoing calls resulted in a message being left and incoming calls were typically longer, incoming calls were weighted at a rate of 3X the number, taking into account the time that collectors were logged off their phones for administrative duties. While these measurements were useful and clearly delineated who was taking on the bulk of the phone work, it wasn’t something we could pull an ad-hoc report on and became very time consuming.
We recently implemented a portfolio approach, where each collector is assigned a specific “bucket” of accounts, randomly selected by our system to evenly distribute by number of debtors and total balance. This gives the collector the opportunity to develop relationships with the debtors, considering the bulk of our client base is revolving utility accounts. Since we still utilize the automated call routing system and choose not to force customers to wait for their “assigned collector” if they are not readily available, collectors still end up working on other collector’s accounts. It has allowed for more consistent monitoring of whether or not an individual collector is making headway towards getting each account worked.
Utilizing technology to measure performance is crucial, but even the best software can struggle to report on performance accurately. Implementing collection tools such as a virtual collector or automated calling campaigns also changes the game. New tools or process changes might increase overall revenue and organizational performance, but those kinds of tools do not assist in identifying which of your collectors are star performers.
Ultimately, our performance measurements give us a bit of insight as to who the strongest collectors are and those employees who are struggling, but we are still unable to assign a specific dollar amount collected each month to individual debt collectors. That metric is still based on total dollars collected for our department as a whole. Even researching this topic has proved difficult; it’s extremely hard to find data about the best way to obtain those types of measurements and what a good standard is. GRCA members can find a sample “Goal Setting and Productivity Worksheet” and some conference materials on the subject by visiting the Members Only section of this site, but overall the real world examples are limited.
I hope to see this topic discussed in future training opportunities and seminars. Please leave a comment below if you are satisfied with your measurement process or have suggestions!