Achieving Your Goals: 3 Lessons for Success with the Dialer

100x100-BrettMy company purchased its first dialer when I was a young frontline collector.  It was an exciting time for us, with the dialer bringing a significant amount of promise and potential.  We felt like we were taking a giant step forward – and we were.

Dialers are one of those key technologies that can significantly set apart the top and bottom performers in our industry.  But what I learned back with our agency’s experience, and have been reminded several times since, is that the presence or use of the technology alone will not ensure success.  Rather, the effectiveness of dialer technology comes down to how it is actually being used. Here are a few Lessons that I have picked up along the way:

Just because an account has a phone number, it does not make it worth your time

Dialers can churn through a lot of inventory, which means you can penetrate a lot more of your business than you could before.  However, just because you can doesn’t mean that you always should.  Your focus should still be to maximize your opportunity with your most collectable business.  You might find an occasional burrito in a trash can, but I wouldn’t go through it to find lunch!

When evaluating the accounts that are the most collectable, you’ll want to start out working through what is almost a hierarchy of needs.  First, while you want to make sure everything on the dialer has a phone number (dialers will typically prescreen this for you anyway), you’ll also want to evaluate which phone numbers you want to dial.  The more phone numbers you dial, the fewer accounts you will get through.  The fewer numbers you dial, the lesser the chance you have to make contact with each individual account.  It becomes kind of a trade off.  Make sure your combination allows for sufficient penetration while also maximizing your opportunity with phone numbers that are getting you results.

Second, take a look at the score of the account.  Where have you had the most success in the past?  Consistently working the higher scored business is going to yield you the best results.  It also provides you a simple metric that you can play with for controlling your inventory levels.

Third, what balances make the most sense for your shop?  Remember that balance equates to opportunity.  If you spend a lot of time or attempts working a $10 account, even if you get a payment in full, you’re still going to lose money on it.  Break your business up into balance groups and find out where your balance ranges extend to and where you have had the most success.

Fourth, how old is the business that you are working anyway?  You can look at this in two ways: (1) Age from assignment, and (2) Age from date of service.  The older the account, the lower the likelihood that that account is going to make a payment.  The typical agency liquidates about 80 percent of whatever they are going to collect on a given batch within the first 180 days.  Much of the dollars that come in after that point are the result of preexisting payment arrangements and payment plans.  Don’t waste your time and money on accounts that have already run their course.

You’ll also want to take a look at more specific criteria that is unique to your shop.  Account statuses, client ID’s, and desk numbers are all relevant; however, make sure that you don’t overdo it.  For the typical agency, the four items listed above will get you the majority of the way there.  Make sure that overanalyzing the minority criteria does not limit the effectiveness of the majority.

The blind leading the blind has never been a good strategy

What are you utilizing to measure your effectiveness?  Daily dialer reports showing attempts, contacts, and result codes are a good start, but that only provides you a surface level look.  If only business were as simple as reviewing what worked yesterday to know what should be done today or tomorrow.  Life unfortunately does not operate within a bubble.

Why are you getting the results that you are getting?  How do your penetration levels match up with new incoming business levels?  Has the complexion of that new business changed?  Has your capacity to dial been impacted in any way?  Have you recently lost or gained any personnel?  How does the business that is being called on the dialer match up with all of the business that you have on your system?  Do you have areas of your business that are being overlooked or missed?

Having relevant business experience in our industry is huge in helping your agency to progress.  However, trusting that past experience with very little regard to what the present is telling you will get you burned time and time again.  Measure your effectiveness and benchmark your progress.

If you run straight into a wall, don’t back up and sprint at it again

Make sure you change up the time of day and days of the week that you are dialing your accounts.  When was the last day and time that you dialed this campaign?  Are you repeating efforts in the past that weren’t very successful?

Another element of the campaigns that is worthwhile to adjust is the sorting order of your campaigns.  Score, age, and balance are all fairly common.  Even if you are able to adequately penetrate your campaigns, just adjusting the sort order will go a long way to ensure that you are working your business differently and hitting it at different times.  Utilize variety to maximize your opportunity.

Regardless of what you find your ‘secret sauce’ to be for your dialer, make sure you continue to gauge your progress and make adjustments as you go.  It is a very powerful tool, and can make a substantial difference to your business, but only when it is used properly.  Matching up the dialer’s capability with your business’s model and needs will help to ensure that you are maximizing its capability to drive your business forward in as effective a manner as possible.