March 16th, 2020

Collections Organizations Should Focus on Consumer Engagement for Better RPC Rates

This year’s Receivables Management Association International (RMAI) annual conference buzzed with the promise of digital channels and large amounts of consumer data to buoy declining right-party contact (RPC) rates and compensate for the phone channel’s supposed descent into obsolescence. Both developments merit experimentation, but they aren’t going to resolve the industry’s challenges. To improve RPC rates and bottom-line results, collections organizations should focus on consumer engagement.

Data, data everywhere, but not a drop of insight

At RMAI I heard third-party data providers tout vast quantities of consumer data as the solution to improving collections. "The more the better,” they proclaimed. It’s true, somewhat. You have no chance of reaching consumers if you don’t have their current contact information.

But more consumer data is not enough. The right number won’t help if you dial at the wrong time of day or day of the week. Customers will check out if you barrage them with calls. RPC rates drop 50% after the fourth call. Finally, if carriers block or mislabel your call as spam, or the consumer’s caller ID shows ‘unknown,’ then you have no chance of getting an answer.

Execution on consumer data must still operate within regulatory constraints. Most companies have addressed the TCPA risk of dialing wrong numbers. Soon, however, wrong numbers will squander one of just seven allowed attempts at contact per week, a central limitation under the CFPB’s forthcoming rules change. Like the TCPA, this will force collections organizations to adopt greater efficiency. Uncorroborated phone data won’t just be a compliance risk, it will threaten basic operations.

Digital: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

Consumers’ phones are overrun by robocalls. They won’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers. Adding email, texts, or banner ads to the communications may seem like viable ways to complement your outbound dialing.

However, engaging consumers through these channels is not an easy task. Blame spam email and texts, and ‘banner blindness’ for putting consumers on guard. They’re no more likely to respond to digital outreach than they are to answer a call.

More raw data and digital channels won’t automatically improve right-party contact rates; they’re just tools. They must be properly coordinated to serve consumer engagement.

Focus on consumer engagement

To improve RPC rates, you don’t need large datasets. Rather, you need the phone numbers that consumers use most, and insight into the times and days when they’re most likely to answer. You also must keep carriers from blocking or spam-mislabeling your calls, and ensure that your brand appears correctly on consumers’ caller ID.

As for expanding into email, text, or banner ads, remember that more consumers access digital channels with their smartphones than with other devices. The smartphone is the nexus of all communications. Two coordinated contact attempts across two channels may bring the best success; for example, a well-timed phone call may be more to likely to get an answer if it’s preceded by an email or text alerting the consumer of the call.

For any outreach to succeed, collections organizations need a clear view of consumer identity. That’s really what will change the collections industry: moving away from addressing an anonymous portfolio toward engaging individuals with relevant messages. Doing so is not an automatic result of having more data or spreading outreach across channels. Insights that drive engagement are a function of how that data and those channels are leveraged.

How Neustar can help

Neustar Outbound Dialing Solutions dramatically improve RPC rates for collections organizations, often by as much as 33%.

Through our unique relationships with phone carriers and management of over 90% of U.S. caller ID, Neustar provides unique predictive consumer data insights on the right time to call and best number to use. Neustar scores numbers already in a CRM and appends additional numbers to improve contactability. Neustar also helps to mitigate call blocking, spam-mislabeling, and the risk of compliance violations.

This is possible because Neustar’s identity platform, OneID, runs on top of a framework of authoritative data sources, such as government, telecom, billing, utilities, and financial institutions. With 11 billion daily updates to consumer data, Neustar proactively pushes the most accurate contact information to client databases, so that collections organizations have the right information to contact consumers at the numbers and times they’re most likely to answer.

Position your collections organization for long-term success. Focus on consumer engagement that’s rooted in identity.

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