How Speech Analytics Can Keep Collections Companies Compliant

“Saying all the Right Things” – How Speech Analytics Can Keep Collections Companies Compliant
by Dougie McManus, CEO, Zinc Group

Compliance is one of the hottest topics in the collections industry today but it is also an area that has undergone a shift in focus over recent years. The industry used to be regulated by the Office of Fair Trading. Over the past few years, there has been a transition over to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – and in tandem a shift to placing an even greater focus on treating customers fairly.

Today, there are compliance requirements around incoming expenditure, finding out the financial circumstances of the client, ensuring that the arrangement that the provider makes with the client meets their financial affordability model. That’s where the latest quality monitoring, call recording and speech analytics solutions can prove invaluable in helping ensure that companies like ourselves operating in the debt recovery space are compliant in all of their dealings with customers.

Being able to use Enghouse Interactive’s call recording and speech analytics technology has been invaluable to us. This kind of technology and approach is key in ensuring that agents are fully compliant with all stipulations by the end of the call. Crucially, the call does not have to be rigidly scripted. It is important that the conversation is natural and not stilted, of course but the technology allows the agent to ensure that they are using language that complies with prevailing legislation..

We leave it to our customer account managers to look at each of the key areas where we need to be compliant and make sure that they fit the right language as naturally as possible into the conversation to ensure compliance.

This element of speech analytics is of course critically important but in our view compliance is just the first level of this key focus on treating the customer fairly. And speech analytics is now enabling us to take it up to the next level – moving beyond the regulatory requirement to focus on soft evaluators such as cross-talk, conversational tone, the volume of speech and the level of stress demonstrated by the participants. Specifically, the technology gives us the tools to quickly identify when the customer starts to cross-talk; becomes more agitated or begins to raise their voice.

So what do we see as the key benefits collections businesses are getting from using technologies like speech analytics and outbound dialling to ensure compliance and move beyond it?

Being in tune with the customer and keeping them happy
The kind of capability that speech analytics delivers enables us to ensure we are managing the customer sensitively. For example, one of the regulatory requirements in this area relates to finding out more directly from the customer about the root causes of their problem. This is naturally a very sensitive area though. Typically, it is the biggest stress level that the customer has.

Yet, as an organisation, we need to be aware of the general situation of our clients and the soft evaluators built into the back of tools like the Enghouse Interactive speech analytics solution can help us to understand how the customer may feel and react to certain situations. The solution guides you through to a final statement which asks the customer – are you satisfied with the outcome of our discussion today? So, effectively we have a mechanism for helping ensure that the customer is happy and that we are being sensitive to their needs and treating them fairly. It represents a major step forward for the collections industry as a whole.

Bespoke solutions add value
When it comes to compliance of course, the critical capability of any call recording or speech analytics solution is flexibility. Each and every client, even when they are operating in the same broad sector will have slightly different regulatory requirements to meet. So companies like us will inevitably need a solution that we can readily tweak at the configuration stage, or effectively tune to their particular needs.

This takes pressure off agents who no longer have to remember the specific idiosyncrasies of all their clients or the differences between them. It reduces the chance of a manual error occurring and even more important of failing a client audit which could potentially have major repercussions for all concerned.

Evaluating a greater percentage
Another great benefit of the advent of this kind of technology is that it allows collections companies to evaluate a much greater percentage of calls than would ever have been possible previously which again helps to ensure that agents are delivering the required outcomes and results to customers. In the past, businesses operating in this sector would because of the limitations of the available technology been able to only take a very small sample, maybe 1-2% of every agent’s calls to sample, review and score. With the latest quality monitoring, voice analytics and call recording technology they can grow that figure significantly to almost 100%. Now we have an audit call process that effectively covers the vast majority of calls not just a small sample.

It’s not just about analytics
In addition to leveraging its speech analytics capability, we also make extensive use of Enghouse Interactive’s Outbound Communicator, which offers fully compliant Ofcom predictive dialler technology delivering high performance, extraordinary flexibility and user-friendly operation for dynamic outbound campaigns. One of the great benefits of this tool we find is its reporting capability. We can effectively tune the solution to provide us with key details about call outcomes, so, for example, did we speak to the right contact, if we did was a promise made, was a call back arranged etc? It also plays a key role in advancing our twin focus on customer service quality and compliance.

Ultimately, in this industry, that’s what this blend of call recording; speech analytics and outbound dialling technology gives us. It effectively supports a new approach to debt recovery and collections that drives compliance with the FCA’s new regulatory regime but also focuses on taking the theme of treating customers fairly to another level moving beyond pure compliance to a closer, more empathetic engagement with the customer.