Collector Productivity – Part 1

August 6, 2009 by Jeff Bernstein

Put yourself in the shoes of your collections team. The year ahead is challenging. Workloads are increasing as consumer debt escalates, and collectors are working tiring, stressful shifts talking to people who don’t want to talk about their debts.

What kind of incentives can improve your collections performance and at the same time as create a well motivated and productive team?


Financial incentives have long been a popular method to help boost staff performance. These rewards usually relate to the achievement of certain goals — either personal, team, organizational or a combination of all three. A well-constructed incentive plan will increase staff morale and loyalty, as well as making a valuable difference to the bottom line. It can help ensure you are managing a team who are running at full speed and capability during these busy, turbulent times.

However, collections managers can also implement alternative non-monetary incentive programs that can boost staff commitment and effectiveness.

This series of postings identifies cash and non-cash alternatives that can help build and maintain a motivated team.

Getting Started

Before introducing a new incentive plan, clearly explain your objectives to the team. If your main goal is to maximize profitability, boost morale by letting your team know they are a major source of profit. Their understanding of how individual performance relates to the business will deepen their commitment to the program once it begins.

To help you decide what to include in the incentive plan, you must first understand what drives your team. This should be ascertained by conducting regular performance appraisals, call monitoring, attitude surveys and informal conversations. Your staff will likely tell you that increased status and recognition, higher pay, better working conditions and improved benefits would increase both morale and performance. We can look into incentives that address these requirements individually, but let’s begin with the most obvious: money.

Money is a powerful motivator

The current economic climate guarantees that money is more important to your team members than ever; they want to be financially rewarded for their efforts. In this industry, collectors work individually so it is wise to target them in this way when using financial incentives.

Comparing individuals can also achieve higher performance levels because the cachet of being ‘top dog’ is a real motivator for some people.

Our advice is to begin by targeting staff in three familiar areas and ensure from the start that your collections system delivers the depth and granularity of management information to support your incentive program.

I would like to thank the Experian collections experts who contributed to this four-part series. The rest of the series will be posted soon!