Many fincos and lenders who specialize in the auto industry have realized that the management of a call center is a responsibility best delegated to specialists who have the systems and staff to deliver a higher level of service at lower costs. The difficulties of finding, hiring, training call center representatives, keeping them current with federal and state regulations, and implementing and upgrading IT systems to boost productivity can significantly detract from your focus. If you find yourself in this situation and are considering delegating these responsibilities to a provider, here are a few key criteria to consider as you begin your call center outsourcing comparison.
Staff Skills and Experience
As a lender, you’ll want to ensure that the call center staff is experienced in all facets of supporting borrowers; that includes answering questions about your lending programs, welcome calls to new clients to ensure they understand the payment process, providing guidance to borrowers experiencing financial difficulties, or simply assisting them with how-to requests.
If a good percentage of your borrowers don’t speak fluent English, a call center provider who employs multi-lingual experts can be a distinct advantage. Native speakers can explain the details and nuances of your lease and loan policies and help borrowers successfully navigate the various stages of the lease or loan servicing cycle. You’ll have fewer problems and higher client satisfaction when borrowers can speak to representatives in their native language.
Expanded Coverage Hours
Limited call center hours can frustrate borrowers who need support and can also result in long wait times during business hours. A provider that offers coverage convenient to different time zones, evening hours, and even weekends makes it easier for borrowers to contact you and have their questions answered. Extended hours can be another way to enhance customer service and boost borrower satisfaction.
We’ve all had less than positive experiences with call centers based outside the US and staffed by non-native English speakers. Off-shore services may offer their call center support at significantly lower costs than a US-based provider, but you’ll have to carefully consider cost against quality of service. When you choose an on-shore provider, you’ll be working with call center professionals who are experienced in working with fincos, credit unions, and community banks. They fully understand lease and loan servicing in the context of US practices.
Multi-Channel Customer Interactions
Call center services should cover multi-channel borrower communications. Today’s borrowers should have more channels than ever to contact their lender. In addition to fielding calls via phone, the best call center outsourcing providers also support email, text, social media, and traditional postal mail.
The best call center providers leverage technologies that make interaction with borrowers as efficient and effective as possible. Interactive voice response helps identify the borrower’s reason for calling and routes the call to the appropriate representative. Account information appears on the representative’s screen as soon as the borrower’s call is connected to provide them with context for understanding lease or loan terms, payments, and a history of previous interactions (regardless of channel) with the borrower. Both borrower’s and representative’s time are best utilized when the interactive voice response system offers the option for a callback while maintaining the caller’s position in the queue.
Comprehensive Compliance Program
Federal and state lending regulations are woven throughout the entire lease or loan cycle. The best call center outsourcing providers understand these regulations and carefully track changes, ensuring they are incorporated into the systems, procedures, and guidelines that experts use and follow. Call center representatives receive training regarding the regulatory changes that impact their responsibilities. A provider with a comprehensive compliance program ensures that all interactions with borrowers, especially activities involving collections, delinquencies, and defaults, are conducted in accordance with relevant regulations.
Analytics to Confirm Quality of Service
Although you’re outsourcing call center responsibilities to a provider, you’ll want to know how well your borrowers’ needs are being met. A call center service provider should be able to give you detailed monthly reports regarding call volumes, percentages of contacts across communication channels, types of inquiries, call resolution averages by call type, and metrics compared to the service level agreement you’ve established. The best call center outsourcing providers also track customer satisfaction, following up on every contact with satisfaction surveys to ensure borrower expectations have been met.
All of this information should confirm that you receive the level of service you’ve contracted for, provide insights into borrowers’ behaviors and portfolio performance, and even identify potential growth opportunities.
One More Thought on Call Center Outsourcing Comparison
Conducting a call center outsourcing comparison takes time. The criteria above are certainly not all-inclusive, but they should help you narrow your initial list of prospects to those that could meet your call center needs. One additional aspect to consider is the industry focus of the provider. We mentioned the importance of skills and experience in the lending industry. Many call center outsourcing providers cover a wide range of industries. They’re generalists. And while they may have call center experts with some lending experience, they won’t be able to offer the breadth and depth of experience of a provider who focuses exclusively on the lending industry. Ideally, one who has provided call center outsourcing services for years and has successfully helped hundreds of lenders similar to you.
defi SOLUTIONS provides software solutions across all elements of the lending life cycle, as well as call center and business process outsourcing services focusing exclusively on the lending industry. Our software and services are tailored to the needs of finance companies, regional banks, credit unions, and lending start-ups looking to improve efficiency and productivity while lowering operating costs. We’d welcome the opportunity to be part of your call center outsourcing comparison. Contact our team today to discuss your lending needs.