Background. The setting is a large bank with a large portfolio of consumer loans (car loans, credit card, mortgages, etc.) A certain percentage of customers are late in paying. The overall business objective is to collect as many of these payments as possible through direct telephonic interaction with delinquent borrowers. An important strategy is to prioritize calls and to assign specific collectors based on various factors, including the amount past due, the number of payments past due, the number of prior delinquent payments, the results of prior interactions, and customer demographics.
1. Call prioritization. The system identifies delinquent borrowers to call, and their stage of delinquency (stage of delinquency means categorizing delinquent accounts by how long they have been delinquent, for example, less than 30 days past due, 31-60 days past due, 61-90 days past due, etc.) by accessing the legacy system that processes loan payments. Then, on a continuously updated, real-time basis, the system prioritizes outbound calls to make to delinquent borrowers based on a user-defined algorithm that incorporates the following values: the borrower's stage of delinquency, the number of call attempts already made, and the results of recent call attempts (for example, the user can define a high priority for the case that an attempt made within the last five minutes resulted in a busy signal), the present time of day and day of the week, and the time zone of the number being called.
2. Collector Availability. Collectors signal changes in their availability to take incoming collection calls. Possible availability states are: actively taking calls, taking only high priority calls (based on a user defined algorithm for what values constitute a high-priority call), unavailable but in the building, or not in the building.
3. Outward Call Handling. The system dials out on as many as three times the number of lines as there are collectors to take the call (since it takes an average of three calls to reach a person at the number being called). The system dials calls in priority order. If the call is not answered by a person ·!r an answering machine, the system handles the call based on whether there is no answer (call again at least four hours later), a busy signal (call again in five minutes), or a disconnect message (call directory assistance in the appropriate area code). If the call is answered by a person or an answering machine, the computer assigns the call to a particular collector. This assignment is made based on a user-defined algorithm that assigns priorities based on the stage of delinquency the account is in, the workgroup to which a collector belongs, and the relative availability of collectors to service calls. A workgroup is a group of workers assigned to a single organizational unit. In delinquency collections, this is generally a pool of collectors assigned to work similar cases (for example, all delinquent accounts from a particular geographical area at a particular stage of delinquency) .
4. Inward Call Handling. Calls are received by delinquent borrowers returning calls made by collectors (screened out by a voice response unit from all calls received). The system assigns the call to a collector based on a user-defined algorithm based on the stage of delinquency the borrower is in, the workgroup to which a collector belongs, the spccif'ic collector that placed the last call, the result of the last call, and the relative availability of collectors to service calls.
5. Call Servicing. Once the system assigns a call to a particular collector, it displays on this collector's workstation a script window, a borrower information window, and a call result window. The script window provides text that the collector reads to the person answering the phone. This text is customized to the borrower based on a user-defined algorithm that incorporates the stage of delinquency of the borrower, any other items of information about the borrower that the system maintains, the result of previous calls, and various available text templates. After interacting with the person answering the phone, the collector logs the result of the conversation by categorizing the call result. Possible categories are: left machine message to call, left message with person (define relationship), promised to pay (define date), wants to reschedule payments, given contact info, and skip trace. "skip trace" means that the borrower has moved without leaving forwarding information. The collector can also enter free-form comments describing the interaction, as appropriate.
6. Call Followup. The system determines whether a followup call is necessary, based on a user-defined algorithm that incorporates the following values: the borrower's stage of delinquency, the number of call attempts already made, and the results of recent call attempts. For example, the system will schedule a call to occur after the promised payment date, if no payment has been received by that date. A call result of "skip-trace" causes the system to assign the case to specialists in tracking down a borrower who has moved without providing forwarding information. The system also generates letters customized to the borrower based on a user defined algorithm that incorporates the stage of delinquency of the borrower, any other items of information about the borrower that the system maintains, the result the latest calls, and various available text templates.
A "user defined algorithm" is one you don't have to worry about, except to make sure that it is easy to change.