Payment collections in any industry can be a daunting yet necessary task. Fortunately, to help automate this process, many new technologies have been developed. Automating any high-volume tasks can help save businesses time and money, and collections are no different. In fact, it is estimated that 85% of customer interactions will be handled without human agents by the end of this year.
Managing an inbound call center presents a series of unique challenges. This type of business requires a great deal of flexibility due to many factors such as shifting workloads, many agents in different roles, and high employee turnover, so having automated systems in place is critical to saving time and money.
An example of an automated customer service solution to increase efficiencies in collections is an IVR (Interactive Voice Response). This type of solution uses a pre-recorded response to meet caller needs through customized recordings, menu selection, and routing options. IVR’s can help your business streamline call flows and improve overall operational performance by routing customers to the right agent effectively and quickly.
When customers do not have an IVR option and need to speak to an agent to pay a bill, there is a lot of time wasted on both the customer and the agent’s end. For example, a customer has to give the agent their account information, which the agent then needs to pull up. Next, the customer needs to read off their credit card number, which the agent then needs to type into the system, and they both need to wait for the system to process the payment. This scenario presents many unnecessary steps, which also increases First Call Resolution (FCR) metrics that many call centers are expected to lower.
It is clear that not having automation technology can hurt a business’s bottom line, so what are the specific benefits of IVR technology for the collections industry?
- Agent time savings
- Cost savings
- Increased customer satisfaction
Time savings is a substantial benefit to the business’s bottom line. If automated systems, like an IVR, can be used for simple tasks like bill payments, this frees up the agent to help customers with more complex customer service situations. Even if customers prefer to speak to a live agent for bill payments, having an IVR in place helps route them to the right agent the first time, reducing the occurrences of needing to transfer customers to other agents or departments.
In addition to saving time, these automated systems, especially cloud-based IVR solutions, also provide financial savings through operational efficiencies. Implementing a system like this is the best way to funnel incoming calls by segmenting them into logical groups and getting them directly to the right agent. Another example of IVRs improving the bottom line for businesses is when they see fluctuation in staff, business contracts, or both. The automated system ensures that even in high call/low staff situations, the call center is routing customers in the most efficient way possible.
When it comes to customer satisfaction, many people think they would rather talk to a live agent for every issue; however, according to research by Nuance, 67% of people preferred self-service options over speaking to a call center agent. Having an IVR system available allows you to satisfy the 67% who prefer to use this system and save time for them and the agents.
A recent case study by TCN with a client in the healthcare space showed a significant increase in the amount of money collected, with 38% of the payments coming after business hours — something that would not have been possible without an automated system. This just further drives home the point that organizations need to provide several options for customer service activities like bill payments.
Technology is constantly evolving to keep up with customer demands, so staying on top of the latest capabilities is key to staying competitive. Cryptocurrency has gained a lot of traction in recent years, so eventually, automated systems may need to have a way also to accept these forms of payments to satisfy their customers and collect on their bills. But for now, having an automated IVR system in place is the best way to save time and money for the businesses while increasing customer satisfaction.