Organizations approach agency management from three perspectives:
(1) the need to audit vendors to ensure that they are meeting contractual, financial and legal compliance requirements;
(2) ensure that the organization’s clients are being treated fairly and ethically in order to limit brand reputation risk and maintain a customer-centric commitment;
(3) maximize revenue opportunities through collection of write-offs through successful performance management of the vendor.
Larger organizations manage this process often by embedding an agency manager into the vendor’s site, notably on early out / pre charge-off outsourcing projects. As many utilities leverage the services of outsourcers for managing pre-final bill collections, this becomes an important tool in managing quality and driving performance. The objective is to build a brand presence in the outsourcer’s site, and focusing its employees and management team on your customers and daily performance metrics and outcomes. This is particularly useful in vendor locations in which there are a number of high profile client projects with larger resource pools competing for attention and performance, as an embedded manager can ensure that the brand gets the right level of attention and focus.
For post write off recovery collections in utility companies, embedding an agency manager becomes cost-prohibitive and less of an opportunity from an ROI perspective, due to the smaller inventories of receivables at any agency. We urge that clients not spread out their placements to many vendors where each project is potentially small, as the vendors will more likely focus on larger client projects and dilute the performance on your receivables. Still, creating a smaller pool of agency partners often does not provide a resource pool of >50-100 collectors at a vendor location to warrant an embedded agency management approach.
Even without an embedded agency manager, organizations can use some of the techniques that are often used by onsite managers to ensure that the focus is on their projects, and maintain an ongoing quality review and performance management process. The tools are fairly common in today’s environment — remote monitoring and quality reviews of customer contacts (i.e., digital logging), monthly publishing of competitive liquidation results to a competitive agency process with market share incentives, weekly updates of month-to-date competitive results to each vendor to promote competition, periodic “special” promotions / contests tied to performance where below target MTD, and monthly performance “kickers” for exceeding monthly liquidation targets at certain pre-determined levels.
Agencies have selective memory, and so it’s vital to keep your projects on their radar. Remember, they have many more clients, all of whom want the same thing – performance. Some are less vocal and focused on results than others. Those that are always providing competitive feedback, quality reviews and feedback, contests, and market share opportunities are top of mind, and generally get the better selection of collectors, team /project managers, and overall vendor attention. The key is to maintain constant visibility and a competitive atmosphere.
Over the next several weeks, we'll dive into more detail for each of these areas:
- Auditing and monitoring, onsite and remote
- Best practices for improving agency performance
- Scorecards and strategies
- Market share competition and scorecards