The "Freakonomics" of Bill Collection

WSJ reports that the slumping economy has resulted in a boom for voice actors needed to record “your payment is late” messages used by collection agencies. Best facts from the article:

  • From pleasant to aggressive: the collection agencies use friendly voices for your first few calls to deliver helpful reminders. But ignore a few of these and they bring out the more gruff and aggressive voices on autodial.
  • Unlike call centers, collection societies often look for voice actors with light accents, especially British. Why? “People tend to listen to anything that is different even if I am just saying ‘Hey, you owe us money.'” Oh, and male customers respond particularly well to female British voices. In the words of one executive: “They think Elizabeth Hurley is on the other end.”
  • People listen longer to messages delivered by female voices but the male voice outperforms female in terms of spurring action.