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What Your Collections Need to Go Virtual

  • Written by Joshua Fluegel

Virtual Collections Software Roundtable

Some would say virtual collections is the last frontier in debt collection, the omission of the debt collector completely. While it is highly unlikely collection floors will empty in our lifetime, the prospect of automating a time consuming portion of debt collection is tempting for the budget-minded. Collection Advisor rounded up the thoughts of thought leaders on the subject to analyze key analytics and what they could mean for virtual collection software implementation.

Carl A. Briganti President and founder of CSS, Inc.

briganti carlWhat key analytics allow collection professionals to modify and improve collection efforts?
There are a variety of key analytics that collection professionals are recommended to utilize and evaluate to modify and improve collection efforts including: account type, age, number of agency placements, file penetration, and others. This is why agencies are strongly urged to employ powerful reporting tools and real-time dashboards to provide this crucial information at both point-in-time and on a regularly scheduled basis.

What advice would help an agency best integrate virtual collection software into its collection efforts?
Virtual collection software is designed primarily for accounts with higher liquidation rates or are in the beginning stages of delinquency. Old, recalcitrant accounts will not benefit from this approach. The deployment of a virtual collection application will help an agency engender payments with a “soft” recovery approach. It would benefit the agency by saving from paying commissions, internal or external, when a debtor would pay regardless of the approach.

 

Matthew Hill President / CEO of InterProse

hill matthewWhat key analytics allow collection professionals to modify and improve collection efforts?
One of the most important data points that facilitate “tuning” of a virtual collection platform over time are the bail-out points. This is a tool that tracks the point where the consumers break the engagement; if before payment resolution, then when and where? For example, this knowledge can help us find off-putting or confusing language. By identifying flaws that can be reworked or moved to a more suitable place in the session.

What advice would help an agency best integrate virtual collection software into its collection efforts?
Use every possible communication channel available to drive the consumer to the site. Statistics show that nine out of 10 consumers prefer online to live collectors. If a site has the advanced capability to handle multiple debt types and complex offers, then you truly can divert as much as 15%-20% of all payments to a virtual agent with the bonus an additional lift in the dollar amount of payments.

 

Albert Rookard President and CEO of Applied Innovation

rookard albertWhat key analytics allow collection professionals to modify and improve collection efforts?
There are many responses to this question which are valid. Let’s start with the math. The investment in a collector for a month is $3,000. In an eight-hour work day they obtain 25 promises to make payment. Over a 21-day work month that’s 525 arrangements. The cost is $5.71 for each arrangement made. ($3,000 / 21 x 25) = $5.71

Okay? So far so good. Now, what if a virtual collection system can do the same work for something like 50 cents. That’s 8% - 9% of the current cost to obtain the same thing…a promise to make a payment on an account.

Additionally, a virtual collection system can use many of the tools available to a live agent when determining what is or is not an appropriate repayment plan, such as age of account, client, scoring analytics, balance, date of last payment… just to name a few. The decision tree can be every bit as complex as the creditor or agency would like it to be, even to the point of understanding prior “discussions” between the virtual system and the consumer.

What advice would help an agency best integrate virtual collection software into its collection efforts?
Do it. The risk is nearly zero. For every payment captured by way of a virtualized collector, resources are freed for other endeavors. Live agents can then spend their time on broken arrangement follow up or skiptracing. A virtual collection system, used fully, creates efficiencies in many areas.

Give it the attention it deserves. How many hours or days are spent hiring and training a new collector? Yet, a virtual collector may be addressed once and left to run on its own, utilizing the same strategies created with its original “hire.” Check into your virtual collector with some frequency. How is he/she doing? Effectiveness of the collection approaches. Review the language used to best develop confidence in the consumer and prompt a high frequency of payments.

Encourage consumers to “discuss” their accounts with the virtual collector. It’s in a safe environment that allows them to look and review repayment options at a time convenient for them. A link from a website or provided on a notice encourages exploration of the virtual option.

In the end, and if you so choose to implement a virtual collection system, use it as you see fit. Maybe conservative in the beginning with tweaks along the way to find where it best fits into your overall strategy.

Finding a Winning Formula for Predictive Dialing

  • Written by Joshua Fluegel

Steps taken in a collection campaign with a predictive dialer must be cautious ones. The authority of the CFPB and dated nature of the TCPA have made the use of a predictive dialer a gamble in the eyes of many collection professionals. However, given the efficiency of a dialer, many collection professionals cannot help but simply proceed with caution. This has led to many philosophies when it comes to using a dialer. Each collection agency seems to have their own unique sauce when it comes to establishing sound compliance strategy.

patterson lex2“In today’s environment a true dialing philosophy begins with risk assessment,” said Lex Patterson, president of DAKCS Software Systems. “Each scenario can then be mapped according to the desired outcome. Begin with an internal assessment and ask yourself these types of questions:

• Do we have “prior expressed consent” to dial cell phones?

• Is there a way to gain expressed consent on cell phones through our clients’ initial contact with the consumer?

• Are we verifying the consent and best form of communication on every call?

• Are we scrubbing for cell phones and isolating them in the system?

• What is our process to handle wrong or reassigned numbers?

• If choosing to leave messages on voicemail, what is the appropriate message to leave?

• Should we be leaving messages on answering machines?

“Although it will take time to re-evaluate your operations and call handling, it will help in maintaining compliance as well as providing key performance indicators you will want for measurement, analytics and tracking results. Once you have your process map complete, building a workflow that optimizes contact results while minimizing the risk of non-compliance can be more easily achieved and successfully evaluated.”

Asking the correct questions can certainly put an agency on the correct path. However, compliance is a moving target. Once a winning formula has been implemented for predictive dialer efforts, a new rule on increased concern may surface. Working with the leadership and compliance teams is key at this point.

bird terrel“Communicate,” said Terrel Bird, CEO of TCN. “Without giving advice on what you should do, I think it is important to communicate with debtors, agents, management teams, and attorneys alike. This will allow an open dialogue with all parties if a dispute were to come up. It also will alleviate the pressure agents put on debtors.”

Developing a philosophy for the compliant use of a predictive dialer is a difficult task every collection agency must undergo. It is a reminder that successful debt collection without compliance is an impossibility.

Top 4 High-End Collection Solutions 2014

  • Written by Collection Advisor

Overview


Software Bridging Multiple Agency Locations

An agency that operates with more than 1,000 seats will often have multiple locations. While the prospect of locations could lead to additional revenue in new markets, it also multiplies the potentiality of something going wrong. Collection software can help ease the burden as long as it is included in the plan for the new location.

nelson dax“When an agency decides to open additional locations it is important to understand the reasoning and the expectations of doing so,” said
Dax Nelson, director of product development at DAKCS Software Systems. “What is it the agency hopes to accomplish by opening a second or third location? Once this is defined, the agency should involve their technology partners to ensure that they are aligned with the agency to accomplish these goals in a secure and efficient manner. For example, can the software vendor segregate the database or can they provide information pertaining to remote access?  I have seen examples of agencies that make the decision to move locations or open a second location without talking to the various vendors with which they have partnered. It is important for an agency to include the software vendor in the conversation to ensure there are no hurdles to overcome.”

Don Taylor is president of ACSI, which has multiple locations. He believes supporting the systems that support the agency is the key to running a successful agency.


taylor don“Connectivity, so there is no system degradation and backup support so you have redundancy if the primary site goes down,” said Taylor.

Taylor is also an advocate of getting people familiar with the software.

“Training and local support are key,” said Taylor. “The local staff and IT support need to be well versed in the software. I can’t stress training in the software enough.”

As recovery from the recession has made great leaps forward, more and more agencies are preparing themselves for growth and additional locations. This potential for growth has led the industry to anticipate the needs of the future of debt collection.

“Communication is key when operating multiple locations,” said Nelson. “As technology advances and Internet access speeds increase, it is going to become easier for an agency to maintain efficient communication between their offices. Scalabitility will continue to be a demand as many agencies look for flexible solutions to meet their business needs while minimizing costly hardware or licensing expenditures.”

 

Reviews


B
uilt-in UltimateAnalytics Indentifies Accounts
Ajility

- The configurable business rules can allow users to change processes when needed to react nimbly to changing business requirements.
- Users can automate routine tasks to aid in the increase of productivity.
- The graphical user interface (GUI) can make the collection process more intuitive, which can result in lower training costs and reduced trouble-shooting.
- Features compliance with regulations such as FDCPA, FCRA, PCI and HIPAA is built-in.
- The Data Services module can ensure that address, credit status and key contact information is always up-to-date.
- Can establish a comprehensive disaster recovery infrastructure.
- Built-in UltimateAnalytics identifies accounts that are most likely to pay and the value they represent, while providing address, deceased and bankruptcy information.

What Users Say

“Having reviewed or worked with the major collection software platforms, I am most excited about Columbia Ultimate’s Ajility platform,” said Don Taylor, president at ACSI. “While all software requires a degree of customization to fit individual needs, Ajility’s is built on a solid, feature-rich architecture that supports our competitive advantage.”

Ajility | Columbia Ultimate
ajility.com | 800-488-4420



Create Customized Collector Work Screens
Beyond ARM

- The screen designer allows system managers the option to create customized collector work screens and control the look and feel of the system, which can ease the transition to a new system.
- Workflow and business rules allow users to manage accounts more smoothly.
- Beyond’s Visual Intercept allows the development and implementation of account flow process and organized strategies.
- Features include e-signature, predictive dialing, e-payment, legal functionality, credit and risk scoring, and secure cloud debtor email communication.
- The table builder allows system managers to add and associate files to the database, which gives users the ability to find key performance indicators.

What Users Say

“We chose Beyond ARM for a number of important reasons,” said Michael Meyer, CRO and CSO, at MRS Associates. “One of the most important features to us was the ability to integrate Beyond ARM with our software architectures. Next, the software had to be customizable, flexible and very adaptable to be able to handle the myriad of workflow and unique configurations that our clients require. Beyond ARM and the workflow processes have helped revolutionize our business in ways we didn’t anticipate.”

Beyond ARM | DAKCS
dakcs.com | 800-873-2527



Rules Automate Account Assignment
CollectOne

- Users can prioritize multiple queues for each account representative as well as update work queues based on collection productivity.
- Manage geography specific restrictions such as: call times, state specific bad check fees and state or local sales tax.
- The management level business rules automate account assignment. Assignment can include variables such as: geography, responsible party, account age, debt category and amount.
- Associate scanned and electronic documents can be applied to consumer accounts. Print documents and send them via email or fax. Import multiple documents to a single account or multiple accounts.
- The automated accounting workflow is based on management defined processes. Users can establish client-specific accounting rules based on contractual requirements. Features assigned account representative commission rules based on variables including account age, status, status class and amount.

What Users Say

“We have unique needs that require us to have software in place with the flexibility to meet our demands,” said Natalie Mansour-White, senior vice president and COO at National Commercial Services.

CollectOne | CDS Software
collectone.com | 888-816-3333



Account Support for Co-Consumers
Interaction Collector

- Allows for account process orchestration (multi-state capabilities).
- As a collection software application it features a browser-based collector workstation. Built as a recovery application, it manages the debt lifecycle from early-stage delinquency through post charge-off.
- Can accommodate multiple financial arrangements.
- Provides account support for co-consumers.
- Includes a configurable process automation engine that automates business workflow logic; configuration tools to modify the collector desktop, workflows, and reporting; integration to primary loan servicing systems; account analysis and query tools.
- Features pre-built integration to the Interactive Intelligence Interaction Dialer application for screen-pop and single-entry disposition with notes.
- Permits external tokenization requests for PCI compliance.

What Users Say

“In such a competitive industry, our Interactive Intelligence collection solution has been instrumental these past ten years,” said Marian Sangalang, vice president at The Bureaus. “Its ability to securely communicate and pass critical data between our service providers is paramount and can’t be understated.”

Interaction Collector | Interactive Intelligence
inin.com | 800-267-1364

Top 5 Predictive Dialer Solutions 2014

  • Written by Collection Advisor

Overview

Better Via Bullets – Predictive Dialer Edition

Collection Advisor spoke with Jeryl Smith, director of operations at IAT to get his thoughts surrounding the progression of predictive dialers and how he thinks they should continue to develop. Here is a no-frills, meat and potatoes breakdown of his thoughts on helping the collection industry using a bullet point format.

What do you think have been some of the most helpful innovations in predictive dialers in the past decade?
smith jeryl• The ability of dialer products to integrate inbound and outbound call management.
Interface to call recording systems for call evaluation and scoring.
Cloud-based predictive dialing use and cloud-based availability for extra resource usage during abnormally high demands.

What do you think are the biggest obstacles for predictive dialer users today?
Legislation is always a major obstacle; e.g. restriction on calling cell phones with automated dialers without express written consent, conflict between the FTCP and the FDCPA on leaving messages on answering machines.
Threat of litigation over consumer complaints and the conflict of recording agent calls between protection and condemnation.

What advancements in predictive dialer technology would you like to see in the future?
Better ways to identify the called party to improve “right party contacts.”
Improved “best time to call” logic and software available to dialer companies for increased contacts.
Integrated voice mails with agent call management, i.e. allow agents to listen to voice mail messages and do call backs off of messages left.

 

Reviews

Add Accounts Mid Campaign
Castel Connect

- Users can define a schedule and let the system manage agents from campaign to campaign.
- Accounts can be added to projects in real-time without ever stopping a campaign.
- Users can define new inbound queues and assign agents to ensure service level.
- Users can manage call pacing, state and federal regulation compliance as well as add queues to sets and change routing rules real- time.
- Uses ISDN directly, allowing the user to hear the called party’s first “hello.”
- Responds immediately to network ‘disconnect’ requests, tears down the completed calls quickly.
- Recognizes and differentiates very granular special information tones, capturing numbers no longer in service or disconnected.

What Users Say

“Eastern Account System’s several hundred agents depend upon the Castel Connects’ solution to deliver unmatched customization and support for our breadth of clients and their businesses”, said, Steve Zank, vice president of Eastern Account System. “As a strategic business partner, we rely upon Castel to continue to pioneer and implement technologies that succeed in the call center industry.”

Castel Connects | Castel Communications
castel.com | 800-657-8215




Set Up Pre-Determined Call Scrubs
GC1 Peak Dialer

- Users can route calls to the correct agent based upon predefined account criteria and agent profiles. Each user has the ability to set up account and agent profiles, allowing for flexible set-up and changes in real-time.
- Users can set pre-defined 24, 48, and 72-hour call scrubs based on connected calls, total number of attempts, call time curfews by state, and area code/zip code scrubs. Users can run in different dialer modes across multiple dialer campaigns without the risk of double dialing a phone number within a specific account.
- The automated IVR solution allows contacts to interact with the system without the involvement of valuable agent time.
- Users can blend inbound and outbound calls into call centers, allowing agents to manage more than one call at any given time.

What Users Say

“As effective as the GC1 Peak Dialer is, Global Connect is constantly working to update and enhance it,” Jamie Sullivan, general manager at United Recovery Solutions. “Not only do they take my suggestions and quickly respond by programming custom features at no cost to my company, but they also solicit my advice on how to improve the system to meet our needs. I feel like we’re truly working together on the same team.”

GC1 Peak Dialer |Global Connect
gc1.com | 888-421-4151




Tracks for Optimal Dialing Rate
IAT SmartDial

- Tracks various factors to calculate the optimal outbound dialing rate and required resources. Call pacing automatically slows down or speeds up to accommodate changing circumstances in hit-rates, inbound call volume and individual agent work habits.
- Utilizes a pooled resource environment. Phone or session initiation protocol lines are distributed among prioritized tasks such as inbound, outbound agent-attended, and IVR messaging so no dialing resource goes unused.
- Features a variety of compliance tools including time of day control, PCI compliance, and call recording.
- Available as cloud services, site-premised systems or hybrid solutions. Each solution offers comprehensive IVR functionality used for payment reminders or other messages and predictive dialing to feed agents a steady stream of live contacts.

What Users Say

“After having customer service and quality issues with our previous vendor, we reached out to a number of our friends and they suggested IAT’s dialer solution,” said Brian Watkins, president at Southern Oregon Credit Service. “Our staff was able to learn and use the features easily, working lists and campaigns is simple and effective, and the supervisory features have been very helpful. They are an important partner for us and we are grateful for their customer-first approach.”

IAT SmartDial | IAT SmartDial
iatsmartdial.com | 800-574-8801



Roll-Up View of Campaigns
Interaction Dialer

- CCS Switchover enables the system to switch to a duplicate redundant campaign server.
- The new Interaction Supervisor Views adds views for agent management, penetration rate, phone type stats, stage overview, wrap-up overview, and time zone overview.
- The Campaign Command Center provides a roll-up view of campaigns, including their progress and status, along with the ability to adjust priority, start, stop, and pause.
- Multiple campaigns can now share the same contact list.
- Users can now filter by column values, add custom columns, access custom columns in call policies, and assign skills at the phone number level.
- Users can now place an expiration on the DNC record, and can tie phone to a record thereby excluding all phone numbers on the record.

What Users Say

“If we’re not dialing, we’re not making money, so we couldn’t tolerate a week-long deployment,” said Robert Ezsak, director of IT at Apex Financial. “We were able to turn off the old system on a Friday, and turn on the new one on Sunday. Once Interaction Dialer connects to a person, we can route the call to the right agent on our end. This means that calls are handled more efficiently, which increases our chance of collecting revenue.”

Interaction Dialer | Interactive Intelligence
inin.com | 800-267-1364



Manager, Agent and Call Flow Dashboards
Platform 3

- As users begin making contact through the Agent Gateway, customer information appears onscreen and notes can be recorded.
- Features cell phone identification and manual dial-only for TCPA compliance.
- Calls can be routed based on the skills level of the collector.
- Features real-time manager, agent, and call flow dashboards.
- The blended inbound/outbound calling can eliminate the need to designate specific inbound or outbound agents.
- TCN is a hosted contact center suite of cloud-based solutions and services.
- Collectors can be coached with scripted responses, manager barge-in, manager-to-agent messaging and manager dashboards.

What User Say

“Performance and dependability are so important in this industry,” said Tom Backal, operations manager at Lazarus Financial Group. “While there are many dialer options out there, TCN gives us the latest technology and the best service and consultative support that we have ever experienced. Your dialer should be a solution and not a headache. TCN has been a solution that has helped our business grow.”

Platform 3 | TCN, Inc.
tcnp3.com | 866-305-8262