Debt collection agencies and business process outsourcing (BPO) service providers have always been subject to a particularly rigorous set of compliance requirements. The unprecedented circumstances of 2020, however, have ushered in a new layer of technical and regulatory concerns. Now, in addition to keeping pace with the rapid evolution of technology and staying on top of shifting legal guidelines, debt collectors and BPOs must also be mindful of additional requirements pertaining to Covid-19, which seem to change with each passing week.
And yet, in spite of a host of new challenges, demand for BPO continues to increase. The global market is expected to grow by nearly $77 billion by 2024, driven primarily by companies seeking aggressive ways to cut costs. Experts estimate that employing BPO services can save a company between 30 and 50% on their workforce, infrastructure and customer service expenses.
If you’re looking to succeed in a landscape of fierce competition and stringent compliance requirements, here are seven of the top challenges for collections and BPOs in 2020 you’ll need to respond to in the months to come.
7 Top Challenges for Collections & BPOs
1. Staying Abreast of Covid-Related Changes
We’d be remiss to start with anything other than the biggest topic of 2020: the global pandemic. In May, 17 states and the District of Columbia adopted new regulations governing how and when debt collection agencies can make collections attempts for the duration of the pandemic. Namely, debt collectors are prohibited from garnishing stimulus payments. Other state-specific rules tighten the criteria for how debt collectors can contact customers–a critical piece of knowledge for collections agencies wishing to remain compliant.
New York issued a temporary ban on collections of student loan and medical debt, which has since been extended multiple times. In Massachusetts, new regulations ban collectors from engaging in a number of practices, including initiating new collections lawsuits, repossessing vehicles and even initiating phone contact with debtors under certain circumstances. In Washington, D.C., creditors can’t write to or message consumers about their debt until 60 days after the Covid-19 emergency ends–a restriction that will be in place until at least December 31.
2. Meeting Your Client’s Compliance Requirements
In addition to complying with any Covid-related guidelines specific to where you’re located, your clients likely have a laundry list of non-negotiable legal requirements to adhere to, as well: TCPA, CTIA, CFPB, PCI, the list goes on. As their vendor, those requirements extend to you.
A secure, cloud-based customer engagement platform helps you provide best-in-class customer service while meeting all regulatory considerations. Features like a battle-tested TCPA solution, embedded multichannel consent functionality, comprehensive contact attempt controls and a PCI-DSS compliant platform help customers in highly regulated industries like debt collections, healthcare, banking and finance stay on the right side of the law and meet their clients’ high expectations.
3. Maintaining Data Security While Working Remotely
It’s inevitable that BPO firms that deal with customers will also handle sensitive personal and financial information. Maintaining the integrity of that information is always a priority, but the massive shift to remote work has added a new level of complexity to the challenge of data security.
A fully cloud-based communication platform gives you the highest-available level of cloud security for handling sensitive information. A multi-layer defense network protects against malicious threats, while an encrypted transaction process ensures secure financial transactions compliant with the latest PCI data security standards. Intelligent speech analytics tools monitor 100% of your agents’ interactions and automatically send alerts to the appropriate stakeholders whenever compliance-related language or any trigger keywords of your choice are used.
4. Providing Secure Communications Across All Channels
Leveraging a diverse range of channels–voice, digital, SMS, and more–is a best practice to provide an excellent customer experience, but it also multiplies your risk exposure with each additional channel. To offer a truly effective omnichannel BPO solution, you need not only be available on all channels, but ensure that the communication on said channels is secure.
Combining best practices and technology via an omnichannel call center solution helps you minimize risk while maximizing your opportunity to provide winning customer service. Some of these best practices include leveraging a non-ATDS dialing solution to mitigate TCPA risk, capturing consent with interactive voice response prompts, providing multiple opportunities for customers to give consent across the customer journey, and streamlining contact attempt controls across in-house, remote and outsourced agents.
5. Complying with New CFPB Guidelines
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is expected to release new rules governing digital communications any day now. These will have a major bearing on how collections agencies can legally use technology to communicate with customers, so staying on top of them is essential to the livelihood of your business.
The exact content of the guidelines is yet to be seen, but experts expect they will lower the cap on the number of calls collectors can make to consumers and put in place strong consent management requirements in order to take advantage of digital communication channels like texting and email.
6. Declining Client Budgets
Though the growth rate for BPO demand is expected to hold steady, companies in all sectors are increasingly looking for ways to cut costs. In IT spending alone, organizations across industries will see a 7% decrease from the previous year, according to research by Gartner. This means outsourced service providers will be forced to do more with less, finding innovative ways to provide the same or better service without incurring additional expenses.
One way BPOs can do this is by acting as a full-service solution, combining, for example, customer service, billing, and technical support offerings. An all-in-one communication, CRM and workforce optimization platform is well-suited for this purpose.
Additionally, BPOs should be aware that tightened budgets will make some companies less prone to sunk cost bias, which influences the decision to stick with a less-than-ideal solution because of the costs that have already been incurred. Rather, companies will be more open to making up-front investments that will yield long-term savings; this creates a prime opportunity for BPOs to win new business.
7. Differentiating from the Competition
Market research firm IBISWorld predicts the BPO and collections industries in the United States will generate revenues of $133 billion and $11 billion respectively in 2020. These healthy markets translate to healthy competition, so BPOs and collections agencies will need to make it one of their primary business goals to differentiate themselves from the thousands of other providers offering similar services.
Empowered agents drive customer satisfaction. Arming your agents with the best available call center technology leads to more positive call outcomes and better all-around customer service, not to mention a more satisfied, engaged workforce.
Meet Your Compliance Needs in 2020 and Beyond with Cloud Contact Center Software
In heavily regulated sectors like collections, telecommunications and healthcare, you can’t afford to scrimp on security or compliance. Cloud contact center software facilitates seamless risk management and unmatched reliability across channels, boasting 99.99% platform uptime. Whether your workforce is remote, onsite, outsourced or some combination of the three, an all-in-one customer engagement platform can help you build a unified system for managing complex contact attempts.