Whether you have an internal team of debt collectors, or outsource to a debt collection specialist, motivating your debt collection team is crucial to the success of your credit department and to the bottomline of your company.

When you want to improve the job performance and satisfaction of your debt collectors, there are several ways I have found useful over the years.

Self-esteem and happiness

Nowadays, self-esteem and happiness are essential to your team’s success. This is because everyone wants to feel important and valued. In the debt collection arena, improving self-esteem among collectors can lead to greater productivity and debt collection success.

Here are some tips to help improve self-esteem:

  • Get your collectors involved in the decision-making processes. They probably know a better solution than you, so get them involved. This makes the collectors feel that you value their input.
  •  Always use the collector’s name when you are talking to him or her. Make it a point to remember each collector’s name, and knowing some personal information about each person is even better.
  •  Steer clear of arguments. Discussing subjects is fine, arguing is not. When you argue, the person you are talking to might infer that you think he or she is wrong. When a person feels criticized, self-esteem goes down.
  • Give compliment at least one of your collectors each day. A compliment goes a long way to enhance self-esteem.
  • Be a good listener. Don’t do all the talking. Let the other person talk and show interest in what he or she is saying.
  • Keep collectors informed about all the information or issues that pertain to their jobs. I like to share with all our collectors the outcome of any client meetings, so they feel involved and I can also get their input. Show them the same respect that you would like to be shown.

Teach your collectors to become good listeners

This is a great skill that can be taught be example, so listen up and stop talking! Being a good listener enhances job performance because fewer mistakes are made due to misunderstood or lack of information. In addition, debt collectors do a better job on claims when they are listening carefully to customers and giving customers the impression that they care about what is being said. Below are some tips to improve listening skills:

  • As soon as you pick up the phone to place your call, be ready to listen. Sit up straight and focus on the person you are speaking to.

  • Avoid being distracted. Remove anything from your immediate vicinity that will take your attention away from the phone call you are on.

  • Take detailed notes when you are working a claim. These notes will be invaluable when you are inputting your data into your debt collection software after the phone call has ended.

Time management

Teach your collectors how to time-manage and plan their day and each of their debt collection calls. By gathering all relevant information ahead of time, the collector will be well prepared for the phone call and will have greater collection success. Here are some time management tips for collectors:

  • Planning requires collecting facts and data. Collectors should have all contact information, invoices, payment history and guarantees at their fingertips before any phone call is made.
    Collectors should know the client’s likes and dislikes before picking up the phone. Do they like a softer or harder approach? Can you offer reduced lump sums without obtaining authority? 

  • Get to know your portfolio. Do a weekly scan of your entire portfolio of debts, including the ones that are not due for action. How many do you have? How can you reduce it quickly? What are you going to concentrate on? Have a plan before you start your day.

Rewards and goals

Money is a good motivator and in the debt collection industry, it is considered mandatory to reward your staff with cash bonuses, usually based on how much they collect.

We have found, over the years, that all other KPIs fade into insignificance, compared to how much money a collector can bring in. Sure, it’s important, from a customer service’ point of view, to be able to answer the phone and respond to clients and debtors queries promptly, action the debtor cases on a  regular basis and review old cases, but money talks more than all of these put together. Your company or your client wants one thing only money! So keep it simple. Reward your collectors for how much money they collect. Set other KPIs as you see fit, but make the amount of money collected the first priority and the most important KPI.

Other KPIs you can consider are:

  • Promise to pay rates. Firstly, collectors can be measured via promises to pay per hour statistics. The components of this metric are the number of negotiations concluded with a promise to pay in the time that a collector is logged on.
  • Collector contact efficiency. The second performance measurement might be contact efficiency, which is calculated by the number of successful customer contacts expressed as a proportion of the number of outbound calls placed. The contact efficiency of individual collectors can be monitored by their availability to take calls. When average talk time is tracked it can give an insight into a collector's call control capability when viewed alongside others, so that individuals can be rewarded accordingly. The contact efficiency generally changed from delinquency bucket to bucket and deteriorates with increasing delinquency.
  • Promise kept rates. Monitor and assess staff through their individual promise kept rates. For a typical measurement period of a calendar month a collector might have 300 promises reach maturity. If 200 of those pay on time and within tolerance, the promise kept rate for the period is 300 divided by 200. Carefully consider how specific objectives might corrupt the performance of staff and choose a collections tool that can control who is offered promises and the value of those promises.
  •  Results board. A regularly updated results board will ensure your team are results-orientated, making the incentive really effective. If you find this specific motivation technique works well for your team, consider targeting other aspects of their role in a similar way. It should be remembered that a collections team is only as good as its weakest member, rather than increasing the spread between the best and worst collectors, the aim should be improving the overall performance of the team.

Workload management

Variety is important. Don’t overload your collectors. The requests made of your collectors on a day-to-day basis is a key contributor to their motivation and productivity. A resource manager needs to consider the level of workload and the skill required to do it too much and your staff may feel overworked, too little will reduce productivity and demoralise most staff. It is a challenge for the credit or collections manager to be able to assign cases to collectors which they are able to manage but provide a level of challenge that will keep them interested and motivated.

Personal development

Many staff also need to feel that they are developing within the realms of the business and increasing their professional status. This is why many workers will cite training and development opportunities as a key motivator, so consider arranging collections courses and workshops for your team. This will equip staff with the skills they need to do their job better, and reinforces that they are valuable. If employees understand that they have a future with the organisation they will work harder to succeed.

Right tools for the job

A good credit manager will take the time to ensure their staff are appropriately equipped for the task, so make sure that software is up to date and programmes are tailored to fit the requirements of the collections role. Investing in a debt management software solution designed to handle the entire collections lifecycle will streamline the workload and make each task as simple as possible. The best collections solutions will allow collections managers to allocate worklists according to the experience and ability of collectors, ensuring an even, fair spread. An effective collections system will also control the way in which cash rewards are allocated, avoiding bonus corruption.

Within any organisation, the key wll be to make your employees feel a part of the company. As previously stated, get them involved in all levels of the decision-making process, so they feel they can be heard and more importantly, you will listen. If employees do not feel needed and necessary, productivity and ultimately profitability will suffer.

Debt collectors can contribute significantly to the profitability of a company. Use these tips to keep your collectors on task and motivated.

You may also refer to my blog: 10 Tips to Become an Awesome Debt Collection Agent

 Debt Recoveries Australia is the expert at recovering your outstanding debt without the drama. For more information, email at us email@debtrecoveries.com.au or call 1300 799 511. Talk to us about your debt collection concerns via Skype at debtrecoveries.