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Heading off complaints with big data

Sep 05, 2014 Philip Burgess

Heading off complaints with big data

In many cases, it's human nature to complain about things we don't understand. Consider what happens when one's car breaks down - the driver is probably going to be angry and vent by calling the car "stupid" and "a piece of garbage," among other things. However, these complaints might be unfounded - what if the owner caused the malfunction by not taking the vehicle in for regular tune-ups or changing the oil properly?

Similarly, a lot of consumers don't know much about the debt collection industry. They just know what they hear on TV, which tends to include stories of scam artists and those who follow poor practices - not the thousands of firms that help pump money back into the economy. As such, if a debtor has a less-than-perfect interaction with a recovery agent, he or she might complain to authorities to try to right the perceived wrong.

There are a number of ways firms can mitigate the risk that their workers will do something worth complaining about. One strategy many asset recovery corporations are turning to is adopting big data analytics. By amassing large volumes of information and arranging it so as to recognize patterns, collectors might be able to sidestep some common mistakes, and thus improve the reputation of their firms and the industry as a whole.

Seeing the whole picture

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's comprehensive report on complaints amassed in 2013, debt collection firms and regulators keep seeing the same grievances. The study revealed, for instance, that 33 percent of objections involved continued attempts to secure a debt that wasn't actually owed by the individual. After that, 22 percent of consumer accusations has to do with specific details of communication tactics, and similarly, 16 percent pertained to improper contact, the inappropriate sharing of information and false representation.

Knowledge of this type could allow recovery firms to recognize the most common blunders, which could then be given particular focus to in training seminars. If new and old employees alike were advised to pay special attention to some of these criticisms, complaints might be avoided in the long run.

Analyzing individual calls
Other firms are using speech analytics technologies to monitor calls and make sure laws are being followed, FICO Labs reported. These tools can ensure that when calling debtors, agents are using the right type of language, aren't forgetting any crucial information and are following all applicable laws. The source noted that compliance is one of the biggest advantages of speech analysis, another area that could help firms skirt potential complaints.