I remember the date like it was yesterday, June 1, 1998. I was 19 years old and on my first day at my new job. There was no training, only “side by sides” and I remember being anxious to get in my cubicle and make my first call. My manager approached me with a black plastic 6-by- 9 Rolodex and as he handed me the box he looked me in the eye and said, “Your future is now.”
That was 20 years ago. I say that as if it was forever ago, but let’s face it, 20 years is nothing in this business. Look how far the industry has come. Look how complicated it is to get and stay licensed, compliant, efficient and competitive. Over the past two decades our industry was unintentionally molded by the agencies and the vendors that dared to brave the future of technology and the bill that followed.
The path was laid by cutting edge software companies that dared to look an agency owner in the eyes and somehow convince him/her that moving from that Rolodex box or that black and white DOS system and paying $500 or more for every single collector in a seat, was going to give that agency a huge competitive advantage.
This path was advanced by dialer companies, blind to the TCPA, that gave agencies a chance to maximize contacts without hiring themselves out of business and those same dialing companies years later that advanced their product to keep us all compliant with the laws of today. I remember specifically sitting in on client one-on-one monthly calls for performance and it was very clear what agencies were taking the chance on technology and which ones were not.
Although I stand firm by my belief that the foundation of this industry is and always will be the people, it is very obvious that in order to stay ahead of the curve and in order to create maximum value for your agencies, you must be digitized, tech enabled, cutting edge and unafraid. You must be willing to take risks that others do not and do so with an open mind while not stressing about an open wallet. It’s an investment, and with every investment comes risk. However, in those risks there is so much more to gain than there is to be lost.
Many ask me what I do to ensure technology does not pass me by and the answer is simple. Stay engaged. First and foremost, trust your industry publications and sign up to receive the daily newsletters and informational emails from sites InsideARM.com, AccountsRecovery.net, ReceivablesAdvisor. com and many more. Go to every conference you can and get involved. Go to the booths, ask questions and learn about what this industry has to offer. Last but not least, engage your competition. This industry is a tight knit group and almost everyone is willing to help and share what they have learned that is new or right around the corner. But be sure to reciprocate and share what you know as well so we can all get better and be prepared.
Look out there at the technology we have at our fingertips: AI can reduce talk times for agencies handling non-monetary instances such as bankruptcy, fraud and deceased accounts while opening their agents to talk money all day, every day. Emotional analytics that can literally expose the tonality utilized by agents on the phones with their client’s customers and ensure that they are positive, friendly, happy and helpful at all times.
With the announcement the CFPB Director Kraninger made regarding the rulemaking and the willingness of the government to allow agencies to utilize modern communication methods, the big question is who is going to be the pioneer of text messaging, video chat, chat bots and dialer enhancements?
I can tell you, unequivocally, that if you look back on those that made decisions based on advancing technology in their respective agencies, you will be hard pressed to find anyone that regrets it. This is a day and age in our industry where we need all hands-on deck, working together and helping one another advance the technology at our disposal and working as one to make it more affordable, efficient and beneficial. As I mentioned before, get involved! The programs, partnerships, events and groups are endless. While they have a cost associated with it, affording to get involved is an easy choice when you realize that none of us can afford not to stay ahead of the technological curve. It is bigger than any one agency; it is about an embattled industry that is making unbelievable strides in our stereotype and our scrutiny and is now at a precipice of available technology that can allow us the time and the means to focus on the future and to put our industry a step ahead and a head above.
There are very few industries that have gone through what we have, and it has made us stronger than ever. We are equipped to take on the future, but unlike compliance, technology is fun. It is not a forced-investment, it drives the money and the results that our clients are looking for while opening the door for margins we have not seen in 20 years, when those Rolodexes were basically free.
In the end, you can have the newest and best technology, a beautiful call center and an amazing strategy, but without your people, you have nothing.
Gordon Beck is the President and COO of Valor Intelligent Processing, a new organization in the ARM Industry specializing in BPO and 3rd Party Collections. Gordon has 20 years of experience with expertise in the recovery of Wireless, Landline, Cable, Satellite, Internet, VOIP and Financial Institutions. Gordon is known as a motivator, educator and great public speaker in the industry; participating in panels, debates and several individual speeches at industry related events as well as contributing articles and content to several call center publications.