Each day it gets tougher than the next to get a consumer on the phone, establish a right-party contact and ultimately collect their outstanding debt. We currently live in a society where a large portion of consumers have changed the way they communicate by utilizing text messages, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others. We haven’t seen a pendulum shift in communications like this since Caller ID started to take off in the ‘90s. Caller ID allowed consumers to screen the calls they want or didn’t want to take. In many cases today, a consumer’s phone ringing is a notification that a person trying to reach them isn’t a known commodity because if they were they would use the consumer’s preferred method of communication to reach them, whatever that may be. Therein lies the question, how do you collect from a consumer without ever verbally talking to them.
The answer is you have to get smart, be creative and leverage technology. One method to getting smart is to know your payers. Analyze who is paying you versus who is not. Set up a model to determine those accounts that have a higher likelihood of paying compared to those who don’t. What are the commonalities of the accounts paying? When taking larger payments or payment arrangements, analyze your data points to help ascertain some common themes to develop a work strategy that will help identify those more likely to pay.
Get creative with your workflow strategy and processes. Gone are the days of doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result; that is the definition of insanity. Evaluate your cradle-to-grave strategy with your accounts and layout what is happening to each account scenario, when and why. Doing this will allow you to gain a deeper understanding and perspective about the flow of an account and what if anything should be done differently. How many calls should you make to each phone number on an account? How often should you call the place of employment? Which accounts should be sent for skip tracing and which shouldn’t? These are just a few of the many questions that should be asked and answered when evaluating your workflow strategy and processes.
The biggest differentiator from those seeing success these days compared to those who are not is coming down to who is leveraging technology best. There is an abundance of technology geared to helping first and third-party debt collectors become more efficient, profitable and compliant. There are new products and services entering the marketplace on a regular basis. From consumer-friendly communication options to virtual agents to compliance tools, there is no shortage of technology to assist your operation in collecting more money and being more compliant. Two of the consumer-friendly communication options that are the most intriguing are: VoApps, which sends a patented signal that delivers a voice message directly to a consumers mobile voicemail box without making a call or the consumer incurring a charge; and Solutions by Text who provides first and third-party collectors with the ability to offer a full suite of text messaging options that allows the consumers an end-to-end option of dealing with their debt through text messaging only.
Interactive web payment portals are another great mechanism to have available to consumers. The most common web payment portals offer the ability for consumers to make a payment or also negotiate a payment arrangement or settlement. One collection software company, Interprose, has the most sophisticated virtual agent on the market and it interacts with consumers just like a live face-to-face conversation except the consumer can do everything on their own time and, in most cases, their own way.
What we know is that as time goes on, fewer consumers are going to engage in the collection process utilizing a traditional phone conversation. The winners of today and tomorrow will be those first and third-party debt collectors who accept and understand this while looking forward to what can help them increase right-party contacts without having to actually talk to the consumer on the telephone. Sure, there will always be a time and place for telephone communications, it’s just going to be less prevalent tomorrow, the next day and the day after that. If you want to win, you have to get smart, be creative and leverage technology to the best of your ability.
Nick Jarman is the owner of RightAway Consulting & Coaching. Jarman served the last three years on the Board of Directors for ACA International and is the past President of the Missouri Collectors Association.