Effective assignments

Managing assignments is of crucial importance for collections teams to achieve their business objectives. In today’s world, optimal results will depend on the quality of the assignment schemes and their flexibility in order to cope with changes in a changing environment and the priorities on each institution.
But how can we optimize assignments in order to achieve the best possible results? what are the main issues and pains that we are all facing when managing on a daily basis the activities of our teams?
Latest developments and well know recipes can help us to optimize assignment management.

Assignment challenges

Assigning is a challenge. It is a key process in the collections strategy that should drive to the expected results. Effective assignment can lead to success while any missing in the designing of the assignment strategy will certainly affect the amount collected, thus the performance of Collections.
Assignments have to take into consideration the capacity in terms of people, portfolio size and characteristics, desired objectives and challenges, previous performance, while keeping a high level of flexibility in order to adapt to changing situations.
At the same time assignments need to be fair. Dealing with our teams we need to ensure that every member of the team contributes to the expected results, within the limits of their individual capacity and according to their abilities. Everyone is different and responds differently to the same tacks and issues. Some people are able when dealing with certain types of customers or accounts in early buckets, while others will be better when talking on restructuring and rescheduling.

 

 

Assignments entry criteria

The entry criteria will deliberate over the following dimensions:
The size of the portfolio that will be assigned
The type of products that this assignment will contain
The risk level of the assigned customers
A portfolio on a loan basis or alternatively on a customer basis
The collections characteristics of the portfolio (buckets, products, previous customer history)
The previous handling of each customer by the specific agent, group of agents or external agency
The previous handling of each customer by the specific agent, group of agents or external agency
The size and the composition of team (agents and external agencies) and its profiling in terms of experience and specialization
The way that the assignments are made (pool mode, personalized assignments, round robin algorithms)
The exclusions situations that have to be applied at the entrance of the assignment process (VIP customers, special portfolios, etc)
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Managing assignments

Assignment is not a one-off action. It is a process that needs to be carefully managed during its life. It has to be flexible in order to adapt to the changes that will occur for the duration of the assignment For example:
  • Automatically recall assigned customers on the payment of the past due or the drop of the bucket
  • Manually override the assignment scheme in order to exclude a specific customer
  • The automatic recall of a specific customer from the lists on a promise taken or on the recording of a complain
  • The redistribution / reallocation of the assigned cases to cover a change in the number of the staff working on the cases (absences, new staff, inclusion or exclusion of a new external agency).
  • The necessity to change the number or the order of the cases that will be treated in the assignment (inclusion of new portfolios, re-work on the already worked cases)
The need of managing the made assignments can also come from external factors. Events like the outbreak of COVID-19 is a perfect example of an external situation that has forced the collections teams to revise in an urgency the assignments in place, in order to cover staff absences or a reduction in the number of members team that were allowed to work on site.

 

Monitoring and evaluating

Monitoring and evaluating the performance must be made during the life of the assignment process. The usage of daily statistics and the monitoring in the discrepancies with regards to the targeted performance permits to those managing a collections team to take corrective actions.
The performance must be evaluated at the level of the assignment process, but also at the level of each staff engaged in it.
The main issues that are monitored are:
The percentage of the cases that have been worked cases as compared to the targeted pace to achieve the objectives
The results that have been obtained in terms of payments received, promises taken, rescheduling requests recorded, right party contact rate
The performance of each agent vs its own objectives and peer averages

Developments and tools for increasing performance

In these last years we have witnessed new developments in the assignments process as for example the usage of Round robin algorithm for ameliorating the assignment process. The central idea of round robin is to use multiple variables in order to perform the assignments such as: the Past due amount, total balance, risk level or others. In this way assignments are made in a more equitable way, increasing the confidence of the agents with regards to their role in the achievement of their teams’ objectives.

 

With regards to assignments to agents that are working off premises the usage on new applications specially made for the Field collectors has permitted to increase the effectiveness of the collection activities. Assignments can now be made dynamically and be updated during the day, thus facilitating the work of the field agent and his communication with the Head office. Monitoring and updating assignments to the field agents permits to increase the collected amounts and direct efforts to the customers that need to be contacted in priority. 
Collections teams experience is of crucial importance in the achievement of the collection objectives. High turnover of staff and the obligation of keeping regulatory requirements in terms of customer communication, renders necessary the usage of clear guidelines to the agents when speaking with customers in past due. The adoption of smart scripting facilitates this agent / customer interaction, guiding the agents step by step according the answers received by the customers. This will permit to achieve common standards in the communication and increase the effectiveness of the teams when dealing with their assigned cases.

 

 

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