Debt Collection Workflow Optimization in the Digital Era

Debt Collection Workflow Optimization in the Digital Era
Workflow optimization is a trial and error process. It takes attention, time and patience to find the right system for the type of debt you’re collecting. In a recent webinar, “Developing the Optimal Workflow for Your Collection Process,” by, three debt collection experts discussed ways to adjust your systems, where to look for improvements and how to analyze the results.


The panelists covered a wide range of considerations during the hour-long discussion. Based on personal experience and years of work in the field, they shared their thoughts on the workflow optimization process.
Chris Dunkin

Chris Dunkum

President of First Collection Services, William "Chris" Dunkum has more than 30 years’ experience in the collection industry serving in sales, operations, and executive leadership. Chris has received industry honors including having been named "Top 50 Most Influential Collection Professionals" by Collection Advisor Magazine.
John Kelan

John Kelan

Sr. Director of Operational Strategies, Hunter Warfield. Experienced Director Of Operations and Strategy with a demonstrated history of working in the collections and financial services industry.
David Speed

David Speed

Chief Operating Officer at Nationwide Credit Corporation, David Speed has gained over 35 years of knowledge, experience, and leadership in the credit, collection, and recovery businesses which includes 17 years on the collection agency side and 18 years on the client and creditor side.

Workflow Optimization

The panelists all agree – workflow optimization is not a one-size-fits-all approach to debt collection. What works for your team may not work for others. However, the key to finding the best workflows is the ability to experiment and analyze. Here are a few of the topics the panel covered during their time:

Ways to segment workflows

Dunkum says account time, account balance and placement tier are different areas you can target when creating new or optimizing existing workflows. He suggests you first identify the type of account you’d like to target with your workflow optimization strategy. Then, ask:

  • Who is the best person to work the account?
  • Does it need to be worked in the back office or by a collector?
  • Does the account need to be with a person who is chatting or on the phone?

Dunkum explains that oftentimes, employees who are better at digital communications like web chat, email or text may not have the same strengths as your best telephone negotiators.

Debt Collection Workflow Optimization in the Digital Era - Workflow Segmentation

Communication channels can have an impact on how you create a streamlined workflow.

“The digital side has definitely grown over the past few years,” says Kelan. “You’ll find that agents that specialize in chat are more efficient in that manner and can handle three to four chats at one time. Agents who are not as efficient at typing and multitasking are not able to handle that and are better for a one-to-one ratio.”

Other aspects of workflow optimization are timing and consumer preference, adds Speed. The tactics you have in place may be more or less effective based on the age of the account.

You may also decide to make adjustments to your strategy based on how a consumer first interacts with your agency – whether it’s a website or online payment portal visit, web chat, telephone call or anything else you may have available.

David Speed Quote on Workflow Optimization Strategies

How do creditors affect workflows?

Of course, the relationships you have with creditors can impact your business processes. Speed says understanding the story behind each account can open a dialogue with your clients.

Become familiar with the type of debt and what has happened with the accounts in question thus far. If you know what your clients have already tried, it helps you to better explain what you can do differently and avoid repeating strategies that aren’t effective.

“There’s a balance. Sometimes clients do have requirements that you’re going to have to follow, especially to win business,” says Kelan. He notes, though, that many clients hire agencies for their expertise, investment in software solutions and analytic capabilities. Good communication of your tools and abilities is important so both parties can benefit.

John Kelan Quote on Workflow Optimization

While the creditor-client relationship with your agency can inform the way you create, change, audit and analyze workflows, what you have in place currently may not last.

Dunkum says that when Regulation F goes into effect, strategies regarding credit reporting, call frequency and more may need to be changed. The stronger your relationships are now with clients, the easier communication will be once new workflows are required to comply.

Chris Dunkum Workflow Optimization Quote

Final Thoughts on Workflow Strategies

As the webinar came to a close, Kelan, Speed and Dunkum all shared some final thoughts on workflow optimization and how you can get the most out of your workflows.

If you’re using any kind of vendor data, make sure you have a solid testing and validation phase before implementation, suggests Kelan. Use test accounts to test SMS messages, emails and other communications to ensure your technology is working as it should and the data you’re getting from your vendors is accurate.

People, technology and workflow strategy are all important parts of the collection process. Speed says that to maximize success, you need to take advantage of all three for the most successful collection approach.

Dunkum reminds agencies that there is no magic solution that will skyrocket revenue. Workflow maintenance is about small, incremental changes that – when managed and monitored properly – add up to the best possible process.

Are you looking for more ways to improve your company and stay informed on industry changes? The PDCflow blog posts weekly accounts receivable content and news to help you win business, increase efficiency, and take more payments. Subscribe today.

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Hannah Huerta - PDCflow Marketing Specialist
Hannah Huerta, Marketing Specialist

Hannah Huerta is a Marketing Specialist at PDCflow. She creates content for the accounts receivable and payment industry.

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