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.

Freakonomics Link Love

The Freakonomics authors have taken their blog to the NYTimes – it will be interesting to see if the Times is launching a broader Huffington-like strategy of rolling up on-brand blogs.

Personally exciting (besides the fact they are now making videos as well) is that I’m included in their “Smaller Blogs/People We Like” section (i think i qualify for both). Way below the fold but I ain’t complaining 😉

My only beef is it seems their feeds have gone to summary mode as opposed to full text. I understand the economics of this since feeds are difficult to monetize but as a heavy Google Reader user would prefer everything delivered to me.

Together we’ve sold millions of books

Had the chance last night to grab drinks with Stephen Dubner (Freakonomics) and Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan). Smart, smart dudes. The two of them were definitely clicking on economics and philosophy to such a deep extent that I felt like the little kid wearing dad’s suit when trying to contribute myself.

That being said, they are both gracious people and kept me involved in the conversation, plus Nassim ordered lots of great cheese.

Now adding “get Nassim’s reading list” to my fantasy “For Sabbatical” plan.