According to the September 2015 article “Data Shows a Double-Digit Decline in Debt Collection Complaints” from ACA International, the overall number of complaints against collection agencies by consumers is in decline. In fact, the article stated that, contrary to popular belief, there are quite a few more industries that are even more worthy of complaint than debt collectors. So what could possibly be the case for this trend?
According to the article and another by ACA International, the downward trend is taking place thanks to two main influences: consumer experience and response time. The results are easy to see.
Over the years, debt collectors have learned the ins and outs of the business and have continued to improve their business practices to improve service. According to the ACA International article above, there’s been a major downward trend in complaints over the past few years. Also according to the 2014 data, there’s been an increase in complaints that are amicably resolved. So while in years past debt collectors and consumers may have clashed, today we’re seeing a different trend: happier customers.
Another major improvement in the debt collection industry is the actual response time for conflict resolution. According to the CFPB data analyzed in the article “Data Shows Double-Digit Decline in Debt Collection Complaint,” says ACA International, about 90% of CFPB consumer complaints were resolved in a timely manner, and once a resolution was offered by the debt collectors, 66% of consumers did not dispute it. This is a major improvement in industry performance and might suggest that recent regulation changes have been beneficial for both customers and service providers.
But It’s Not Perfect Yet
In February 2016, ACA International posted another article, “Consumer Complaints and Litigation Fluctuate to Start 2016,” in which they shared data on the number of complaints from December 2015 to January 2016, as well as an annual comparison. What we see from this data is that there are still several issues within the industry that we should work on solving to decrease the number of customer complaints.
The article suggests that the biggest concern for customers is collection agencies’ attempts to collect debts that are not actually owed. This complaint is followed by “disclosure verification of debt” and “communications tactics” as the top concerns for consumers. There remains room for improvement, but the trends are encouraging that the industry is making considerable strides.
How to Keep Improving
As an industry, debt collectors and call centers fulfill an incredibly important role in the overall health of our economy, but there are still ways for us to do better. While the decrease in complaints can be attributed to many things, it’s possible that better systems and processes are really the main reason. Not only are there better internal systems for customer management, but there are also checks and balances that weren’t previously in place.
For example, with an integrated call center solution, you can ensure that your agents remain compliant while real-time information is shared between your most influential programs. A simple change of customer status will pull them from the call lineup and negate the possibility of a customer complaint.
Another example is speech analytics, which allows your management team to go back and listen to calls to ensure quality customer service.
According to the ACA International articles referenced, there were a great number of factors involved in the decline of consumer complaints against debt collectors in 2015. But one thing is for sure: It never hurts to have better processes, better technology, and better customer service than your competition.