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Nissan automates call processing, boosts collection productivity.

Nissan Motors is known for the innovative design and high performance of its automobiles. Why should the company settle for anything less in managing its own business operations, such as collections?

Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation (NMAC), Torrance, Calif., manages a contract/lease portfolio of some 360,000 auto loan accounts nationwide, valued at more than $3 billion.

To achieve maximum efficiency, the company has built one of the nation's most fully-automated collections operations.

NMAC chose to make computer-aided communications systems from Davox Corporation, Billerica, Mass., a familiar sight in its collection operations. Davox systems currently installed include a 64-line, 32-agent "CAS 1000" predictive dialing system; five Communication Resource Servers (CRS) and more than 100 Davox multifunction workstations.

The CAS 1000 dials phone numbers automatically over multiple phone lines, directly from customer data contained in NMAC delinquent account files.

When a call is answered, the system routes the voice call--and the corresponding data display screen--instantly to an available agent at a workstation.

A sophisticated call pacing algorithm helps assure minimal agent idle time between answered calls, while keeping calls-on-hold to user-defined levels.

The Davox CRS is a data communications controller that allows Davox multifunction voice/data workstations to communicate simultaneously with a wide variety of synchronous and asynchronous computing resources. CRS provides single-keystroke Smart Button access to all available data and telephone resources and also offers a number of local voice/data processing features.

While the dialer pumps out some 15,000 calls daily to delinquent customers, roughly 3000 calls are received each day at NMAC. To streamline the handling of those inbound calls, half of the Davox CRS units and workstations serve collectors working with and IBM 9270 voice response unit (VRU).

Inbound calls may concern payment promises or more complex issues. Many of the calls are handled automatically by customers entering data into the VRU from their touch-tone phones. However, if the customer is seriously delinquent or has a more complex question, the call is sent to an agent using a Davox workstation.

According to Dennis Vincent, director of collections operations at NMAC, the results of the enhancements have been impressive.

"Davox systems have helped us boost collector productivity dramatically. Despite increases in volume, we complete 100 percent of our call lists daily, without a corresponding need for additional FTEs. In addition, Smart Buttons have improved contact documentation and reduced talk times and post-call processing on agent-assisted calls," he says.

Common Smart Button functions include single-key log-on/log-off commands and standard collector comments (spoke with customer, spoke with spouse, promise to pay, etc.).

"The dialer handles early-stage delinquents from 12 to 45 days past due," Vincent says. "Approximately 15,000 accounts fall into this category daily. Accounts aged more that 45 days are worked in our Secondary Unit using a standalone CRS/workstation cluster."

Nissan uses the CAS 1000's Superfilter program to create the day's call list by time zone (West, Central, East) and delinquency category. The highest priority is given to accounts that have a history of previous delinquency.

Another CRS unit became operational in December 1990 at an NMAC facility in Dallas. This system and two Davox workstations are used exclusively to support electronic Smart Forms.

Communicating on-line with a forms queue on the IBM host in Torrance, the Dallas CRS uses special Smart Buttons to strip off variable account data from the forms queue, select the proper form and then send the completed document to a laser printer for output.

Smart Buttons Speed Processing

NMAC in Dallas mails about 10,000 forms (comprising various contracts, notices and other correspondence) every month. The company finds that, with the new CRS unit, it can generate a form in about 30 seconds, compared to the 30-40 minutes it used to take to type each form manually.

"We have three directories," Vincent says. "The first annotates various contact actions, such as left message, promise-to-pay and other contact results. A second directory is used exclusively for digital messaging on 12-to 17-day delinquent loans. The third directory is for back-up standalone, manual dialing."

Messaging is directed to those customers who have been sent a late payment notice.

"We use the messaging feature as an additional tool to urge customers to remit payment," Vincent says. "A special Smart Button directory is used to invoke selection of messages in either English or Spanish."

Many common NMAC transactions used to require two minutes to document properly or, if posted quickly, provided sketchy information. But now, with Smart Buttons, transactions are completed in just 17-20 seconds, fully annotated.

"Here's an example," Vincent says. "Rather that having the dialer log all telco intercepts the same way, we like to pass these special information tone calls to collectors so they can determine if the number has been disconnected, changed, unassigned, temporarily out of service, etc.

"But manually posting such call results is to too time-consuming. So we let Smart Buttons do all the work," he says.

"In all, some 60 arithmetic comparisons are made--automatically in the background mode--to assure that the new information has been entered properly as well as update the customer's demographic file."

Additional Smart Buttons speed account processing in the Secondary Unit. There, two standalone CRS units supporting 66 Davox workstations maintain on-line sessions simultaneously with two separate IBM host databases.

Collectors use Smart Buttons and windowing features to move easily and rapidly between the two data systems as needed to process calls.

VRU Handles Inbound Calls

NMAC collectors previously handled all inbound calls, but management realized that an interactive VRU could service a majority of routine inquiries, thereby allowing inbound collectors to concentrate on more challenging requests.

Nissan uses Davox workstations and a CRS controller to handle the voice and data communications links to the IBM voice response system. Being IBM compatible, the Davox equipment requires no modification to the host or VRU.

"Collectors have a set of Smart Buttons to speed the handling of inbound calls, too," Vincent says.

"For example, when a caller doesn't know his social security or account number, a collector uses the workstation to enter his name into a database, invoking save/retrieve sequence to access the customer's record. As a result, the collector is ready in seconds to review the account."

Collections Productivity

Although the outbound and inbound collections staffs are separate within the same facility, they work as a team to maximize collection revenue and customer service.

"Believe it or not, our initial automation goals were largely subjective and were not based on specific measurement," Vincent says.

"We just knew that automated tools like dialers, workstations and VRUs would allow our collectors to work more productively. It's nice to know the systems furnish measurable proof of how correct our instincts were," he concludes.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Data Connectivity
Publication:Communications News
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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