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Satisfying the Many Needs of High-End Collections

  • Written by Joshua Fluegel

High-End Collections Software Roundtable

The needs of a high-end collection agency (1,000+ seats) are particular and numerous due to the diversity of many of these agencies’ portfolios. Collection Advisor gathered the thoughts of experts to help collection professionals navigate the complexity of high-end collection software.

Ed Wallen Vice President of FICO

wallen edWhat is an aspect of collection software for a 1,000-seat agency that is dramatically different from collection software for a smaller agency of which collection professionals should be aware?
A key aspect of collection software specifically aimed at large-scale agencies is best action optimization. As collections organizations scale up from small operations to large call centers, it becomes increasingly difficult for collectors to apply consistent treatments across the customer base. Best action optimization is becoming a key feature in effective and efficient debt collection by driving compliant consistency in how customers are treated. Optimal offers are provided to each customer at the right time, whilst ensuring that all customer interactions remain compliant. Furthermore, less reliance on the knowledge and experience of the collector means faster onboarding time and, ultimately, a more productive collection organization.

What would justify a small agency graduating to collection software for a larger agency?
Whilst features such as best action optimization provide significant ROI for larger scale operations, small agencies can gain the benefit of many collection features which historically have been targeted at larger organizations and which have been out of the reach of smaller agencies due to the cost of highend software. The key to making highend collection software available to smaller scale agencies is reduced cost of delivery, configuration and implementation, and lower total cost of ownership. Such cost reductions can increasingly be achieved through cloud-based offerings of software packages traditionally offered for “on premises” implementation only, which provide the level of feature functionality hitherto only available to large-scale organizations but without the need for expensive infrastructure and high implementation and support costs.

Lex Patterson President of DAKCS Software Systems

patterson lex2What is an aspect of collection software for a 1,000-seat agency that is dramatically different from collection software for a smaller agency of which collection professionals should be aware?
As the number of employees in an agency grows, the training and supervision requirements tend to grow. Having role-based permissions can save a lot of user setup time and ensure that a new employee has access only to system areas they need.

Easy-to-learn processes and well-written documentation are important, but these areas are magnified in the larger agency environment. Being able to control workflow and ensure compliance becomes a greater challenge in the larger agencies. Having system tools that assist in these challenges improve results. It’s been my experience that the larger agency also needs more control of the domain. For example, an agency’s data exchange needs for working with client or vendor data is driven by the amount of data involved. As the need scales up, larger clients find it economically beneficial to develop IT/development staffs to handle the additional need. Providing a platform that allows flexibility for internal development, while still protecting the core components of the collection system is a necessity. In this environment, application programing interfaces and technology partnership are a differentiating factor.

What would justify a small agency graduating to collection software for a larger agency?
The small six-user office that grows into the 500+ user company is not that uncommon. In fact, we’ve been part of that journey many times during my 30 year tenure with DAKCS. Changing platforms is expensive. The time involved in converting data, processes, and retraining staff is never easy. Thinking about this on the front-end and selecting a technology partner who can grow with your business will save you in the long run.

A software platform should scale and continue to provide value and opportunity as your business needs to grow. Growth can happen gradually or you can land that big contract and it explodes almost overnight. Having a partner who provides the platform, the experience, and the commitment makes the transition from a small agency to a larger agency much easier alleviating pains of changing systems.

Paul Castelli President of Codix

castelli paulWhat is an aspect of collection software for a 1,000-seat agency that is dramatically different from collection software for a smaller agency of which collection professionals should be aware?
A large collection agency or a department of a large institution (for example a bank’s group consolidated risk and collections handling service) handle a large variety of different debt flavors, situations and contexts. This requires a lot of flexibility in their software solution. As they are working with a lot of clients/creditors that are usually submitting large volumes, a large collection agency must be able to address any need of its clients. This includes providing full automation of the process as well as efficiency implementation and reporting (recoveries/cost ratio). These solutions also require well-structured and precise application administration management that can handle a large set of possible rules and parametrizations. The ulti mate target is to allow the expert application administrators to handle these tasks, while keeping it simple and straight forward for the application users. So the investment is not only for the IT solution itself but the application administration team who handles it.

What would justify a small agency graduating to collection software for a larger agency?
From one aspect, smaller agencies need to be efficient and have a fully automated process with as many self-care features and tools as possible. From the other side, smaller clients/creditors represent even more different flavors of debts and context that need to be handled. Of course it is still a question if the investment is necessary. This is not just with the IT solution which can be acquired at a reasonable cost even by a small agency, but in the internal organization and the application management team. This should include experienced business professionals who take care of the flexibility of the system and appropriate parametrization and monitoring. The appropriate software could be used to scale from small to large collections, as it should be a technical matter if the correct solution is chosen that can handle the volumes. Otherwise if the solution doesn’t support the volume and/or flexibility, the cost of handling these manually and the risks involved would justify the graduation to the larger collection agency solution.

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

briganti carlWhat is an aspect of collection software for a 1,000-seat agency that is dramatically different from collection software for a smaller agency of which collection professionals should be aware?
Preemptive compliance is essential when an agency deals with a large volume of agents. Each agent potentially represents a point of failure therefore increasing the exposure to compliance breaches. This is particularly true when the agency relies on training to conform to some or all compliance requirements.

With a high demand for strict compliance in today’s regulatory environment, it has never been more important to leverage technology that limits or eliminates human intervention from compliance activities. Implementation of automated processes that evaluate, on a real-time basis, conditions to ensure that all compliance requirements are met is imperative nowadays. It is well known that a lawsuit can be detrimental to the well-being of an organization so it is imperative that point-in-time compliance checks are deployed in all key areas, including state regulations, financial actions, legal actions, consumer contacts, dunning and more. For such a large agency is it imperative to have access to the tools needed to be able to accommodate this level of mass automation.

What would justify a small agency graduating to collection software for a larger agency?
When an organization experiences rapid growth from a small scale operation to an enterprise level corporation, they need to graduate to an enterprise level solution. Software that provides scalability and is capable of keeping pace with a constantly expanding business is essential to prevent hindering or stalling of that growth. When a company flourishes from a small agency to a larger agency they may find the software they once found suitable is no longer capable of meeting their needs and this becomes a major setback. This is why any small agency looking at the big picture needs to invest in a software company with their finger on the pulse of today’s technology and an eye to the future. Another major justification for a small agency to upgrade to a software geared towards a larger agency is an increase in stringent regulations and compliance. Whether it is adhering to client covenants or federal and state regulations, taking full advantage of a software application that engenders virtually 100% compliance is a must.