Collector - May 2020 - 12

BESTPRACTICES

Gaining Insight From Consumer Surveys
Asking consumers about their experience can result in more effective
collection calls, reduced complaints and more business.
By Tim Dressen

A

nyone who has called a cable TV
provider, credit card issuer or
insurance company has likely
been asked to remain on the line at the end
of a customer service call to complete a
short survey. Automated telephone surveys
have become commonplace for businesses
wishing to get real-time feedback about the
customer experience.
Despite their popularity in many industries,
customer service phone surveys remain
relatively rare among collection agencies.
However, such surveys can provide insightful
information about whether a consumer had a
good or bad experience and much more.
"The information we gather from customer
surveys allows us to identify operational,
client and legal issues, among other things,"
said Dave Rainbolt, chief compliance officer
of three domestic collection agencies and a
significant international call center. "For me,
as chief compliance officer, that information
is crucial."
Such surveys can also help resolve
complaints and ease consumer frustrations,
making them less inclined to voice their
discontent online, or to the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau or other regulators.
"We've seen a significant drop in
consumer complaints," Rainbolt said. "Before
deploying surveys four years ago, we may
have had three complaints a month to the
attorney general's office or BBB. Today, we
haven't had one in the past seven months."

GET STARTED
Implementing post-call surveys doesn't
have to be complex. The first step is
considering what information you'd like
to gather and then developing questions
that will result in that data. Questions
should be clear and concise with little room
for confusion.

12

"Craft short, specific questions in a way
that will give you the data you need," said
Michael Wise, director of marketing and
strategy for Intelligent Contacts. "Structure
questions clearly so they don't allow leeway
for bad data."
A poorly structured question may ask,
"Was our representative polite and helpful?"
The customer may feel that the collector was
pleasant but did not help resolve a problem.
Thus, responding to such a question is
difficult and won't result in useful data.
Instead, ask, "Was our representative polite?",
"Was our representative helpful?" or both as
separate questions.
Limit the number of questions to between
one and three. Few customers are willing
to dedicate significant time to answering
a phone survey. Agents should be able
to encourage participation by asking if
customers will stay on the line to complete
a brief survey about their experience. If the
agent describes the survey as "brief," "short"
or "30-second," then directs consumers
to a 10-question survey that takes three
minutes to complete, this will result in
irritation and surveys that are abandoned
before completion.
Questions should be structured for either
yes/no responses or using a ranked, numeric
scale. Wise recommends using a scale from
one to seven.
"Many people don't like giving an
extreme response," he said. "On a one-tofive scale, you'll receive most responses in
the two-to-four range, which is very limited.
Using a one-to-seven scale provides a more
flexible range."
After crafting questions, speak with your
agency's IVR or call center vendor about
conducting post-call surveys.
"If you have a good contact center vendor
with a robust suite of tools, they should

be able to implement post-call surveys
easily," said McKay Bird, marketing officer
for TCN. "When we help companies add
surveys, we modify their IVR trees and
build out the prompts to capture the data
they wish to compile and collect. It's a great
business intelligence tool. Results trickle in
immediately, so businesses can use the live
data right away and also monitor trends
over time."

BE CREATIVE
When Rainbolt's companies began using
surveys, they asked only whether the
consumer had a positive or negative
experience and provided the opportunity
to leave a message with additional
comments. While this is still the basis for
their surveys, they've added feedback and
survey polls for customers who indicate
they are willing to respond to a few
additional questions.
"Be creative," Rainbolt said. "The sky is the
limit for what you can do with surveys and
the information they provide."

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


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Collector - May 2020

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