The following are those recommended by leadership across the industry as collection professionals to know and follow. Receivables Advisor is proud to present the Women Leaders and their thoughts on their most useful collection technology.
What collection technology is most useful and what do you like most about it?
Wendy Badger, Esq., CCEP
Chief Compliance Officer Vice President, Corporate Compliance
I find technology that provides in-the-moment assistance most useful. A few examples include:
• Instant messaging, so phone agents can send a note to a manager, co-worker or compliance for assistance;
• Speech and data analytics with real-time call monitoring, which assists floor management, compliance, call review and auditing functions. Assuming the appropriate disclosures were provided to the consumer, this may also allow a manager to notice a call being escalated, give the manager an opportunity to listen to the call in real-time, provide in-call coaching to the phone agent or take over a call to de-escalate, or provide other real-time assistance
• “Screen pops” that provide account-specific updates, warnings or statespecific reminders when an agent accesses a consumer’s account
• Technology that helps tailor the consumer’s experience to their contact preferences (e.g., emails versus phone calls, online account access rather than hard copy letters, etc.).
All of these options help enhance interactions with the consumers. This requires that you understand the demographics and preferences of the portfolios the company is working.
Leslie Bender, CIPP/US, CCCO, CCCA, IFCCE
Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel
BCA Financial Services
Today the collection technology I find most useful is Peacock's CastMS. It is a straightforward database tool for your compliance management system. The software is well supported by the vendor and for a credit/collections company large or small that wants a quick-to-implement database for compliance artifacts and related management activities, it seems well designed and user friendly.
Lauren M. Burnette
Messer Strickler, Ltd.
As a defense attorney, I love collection solutions that create and maintain records of account activity in realtime and as it occurs. This creates a powerful defense in those “he said-she said” cases where consumers insist they received calls that were never placed or had conversations that never occurred.
Dara Chevlin Tarkowski
Actuate Law LLC
A few technologies come to mind. From the compliance side, the ComplyARM interface is a really elegant and easy-to-use software. I also think the Quointec’s data breach advisor is a valuable compliance tool which drastically reduces outside counsel legal spend in the event of a data breach event. And from the operations side, the interactions IVY AI assisted agent is a really impressive innovation in the consumer collections experience. I was blown away by its accuracy.
Debra J. Ciskey
Chief Compliance Officer
Wakefield & Associates. Inc.
Learning management systems provide ease of creation, distribution and tracking of training. Just-in-time training can be accomplished nearly effortlessly yet effectively. Testing can be scheduled, then scored automatically, allowing the trainer to focus efforts on content development and coaching for performance. Eterna by Learn.Net is currently my favorite system.
Carlson & Messer LLP
I think that voice analytics is a really exciting tool. As I understand it, you can team voice analytics with realtime reporting to collection supervisors or managers to identify problem calls that should be escalated to management as they are occurring. You can also add in real-time communications between supervisors/management and collectors to provide instant feedback about how to handle a call the collector is currently on. I understand that voice analytics can identify and report raised voices, allowing you to immediately instruct the collector to escalate the call to management. Or voice analytics immediately reports that the conversation included a reference to attorneys, and you can review real-time collection notes to determine if the call should be escalated or whether your collector noted contact information for an attorney, for instance. This use of technology provides excellent training, supervision, and risk management opportunities. And when combined with recording calls, used properly with appropriate notice, you create evidence that will allow you to quickly evaluate a claimed violation to determine whether you fight the case or settle the case.
Security Credit Services, LLC
We have an extremely robust SQL [structured query language] database with a very flexible report engine. We made a sizable capital investment to ensure it was user friendly, nimble and allows for “click-and-drag” report writing. Each department’s end user, or project manager, can easily run reports and data mine so they, in turn, can run their departments with metrics and let the “data make the decisions.” We (the collection industry) have the benefit of having so much meaningful data but not always have had economical data mining tools to best use this information. My team can make efficient decisions to drive the workflow and make strategic changes to increase revenue. This technology has had a big impact on our business.
Crystal M. Duplay
Law Offices of Timothy Sullivan
The collection technology that I find most useful is nothing new, but something that continues to grow with industry demands. Simply put, the case management system is the best piece of collection technology. Over recent years, analytics and robust reporting tools have been incorporated. More importantly, case management systems are integrating more and more compliance tools. I love this continuous evolution.
VP Legal & Compliance
The collection technologies that I find most useful are those that improve the consumer’s experience with the debt collection process. Email allows the customer the opportunity to read the content when it is convenient and direct access (or links) to a variety of content like a payment portal or a dispute flow. Online tools that provide a consumer with a variety of self-service options from the ability to create their own payment plan, negotiate their own settlement offer with immediate resolution or remove their phone number. Tools that assist agents’ ability to resolve an account or concern quickly in one call, like capturing a consumer’s written consent to recurring electronic payments through a link that can be emailed or texted so that a customer can open the link and provide their authorization.
Vice President, Operations
Priority Credit Management Corp.
Over the last year, we have implemented a new system for hiring and recruiting for our collection team. As a part of this new system, we have been using Pro.file assessments through our vendor, Concord Consulting. Pro.file assessments help to understand the “person” behind the resume. It is a great tool that provides insight into each person’s behaviors and how they are “wired.” We started by having our staff profiled, and the results were amazing. When the staff received their reports, they all reflected a similar response – “Wow, it feels like this report knows exactly who I am.” It is through these reports that we can match candidates to specific positions within our business. The most important component when hiring is finding the right person for the right position. The profiles have helped us to understand people on a deeper level than what you get in an interview. They have also helped us to understand one another and assists in continuing to develop a great office culture. Every person is unique, and the profiles have helped me in my management role, adapt job roles and responsibilities to play to each person’s strengths. I have focused on tailoring each staff member’s job to their strengths which has dramatically changed employee engagement.
Joanne Maltese Possumato
Executive Vice President, CFO
Certified Credit & Collection
We are finding great success with a direct-drop to voicemail product, to get around the TCPA issue of contacting consumers’ cell phones. The fact that we do not actually call the cell phone allows us to leave a voicemail message requesting a call back. We do appreciate the resulting inbound calls. This, along with the savings to postage and mailing costs has become our preferred technology to reach consumers. It also provides a simultaneous cell phone scrub, which is noted on the account of each cell phone found.
Member and Leader of the Consumer Financial Services Regulatory and Compliance
Group Clark Hill
I think any product which allows a consumer greater control over the way they communicate with debt collectors, provides omni-channel capability and ensures a level of security and trust for the consumer are all core components of any technology. I think dual authentication is critical for communication technology for the collections industry. I think there is a sense it can be too burdensome, but it’s used in almost every communication with a financial services entity. The key will be driving consumers to the technology.
Jan P. Stieger, CAE, CMP
Receivables Management Association International
The artificial intelligence used in virtual collections is most intriguing to me. Communication with consumers is key in this industry and adapting communication methods to the new consumer preferences is critical. The challenges will come from the ability for laws and regulations to keep pace with the advancements in technology.
Director - HRMG Self Pay (Outsourcing Division)
CMRE Financial Services, Inc.
Having an elevated phone system such as omni-channel improves the user and patient experience. This allows the patient to communicate in multiple media forms such as phone, email, online web chat, and SMS. This technology is widely used in social media and is vital with Millennials in today’s workforce. What I like the most is this technology enables us to have true transparency as we have on-hand access to monitor what the user is doing and saying to the patient/caller. Although your traditional call monitoring is necessary the ability to allow multiple forms of communication in real-time is important to account resolution and patient engagement. Another technology I find useful is the secure online patient portal. I have taken an active role in working on a web-based real-time online tool that allows patients to self-serve. Besides allowing the patients to pay or set up recurring monthly payments, the patients can provide insurance information, request financial assistance, request a summary bill, update their demographics, or do nothing. If they do nothing we are notified and we then can reach out to that patient and offer assistance.
Creditors Bureau USA and the California Association of Collectors
The most useful technology, in use, by our company is an expansive inbound IVR and our consumer web portal. Our inbound IVR applies numerous skills-based routing tools to ensure calls are routed quickly, efficiently and directed to the collection representative best suited to handle the consumer’s needs. Our consumer web portal supplies, on average, 12% of all electronic payments received (i.e. pay by phone, pay with credit card by Mail and web portal payments). The volume of consumers who prefer to pay online using our web portal has steadily increased year over year and we continue to adjust and develop this portal with our vendor partner to ensure that we are able to meet the changing needs and communication preferences of the consumers we service.
The Bureaus, Inc.
I am currently researching a new product. This specific product isn’t like anything else I have seen in our industry as it relates to our companies specific data. It is all about machine learning and the application of modern algorithms to the historical accounts you’ve already worked. I am excited to learn more about this product and its benefits.
Stacy D. Stein, Esq.
Mountain West Law Group, PC
My firm had benefited greatly from our partnership with our collection software vendor, JST CollectMax, and our payment vendor, Stratus Payment Solutions. What we like most about these two technologies is that they are customizable and their teams are responsive to the changing needs of our firm.
Nicole M. Strickler
Messer Strickler, Ltd.
Case management software, which allows for organization, deadline management and a central repository for relevant documents. It’s useful, intuitive and increases efficient time management.
Brit J. Suttell
Barron & Newburger, P.C.
That’s a difficult question, but I really appreciate the third party vendors who have compliance software. The ability, even for smaller companies, to do compliance on an efficient scale is a huge leap for our industry. The majority of the industry wants to do “the right thing” and help improve the industry’s image so the ability to have compliance software that assist with that goal is awesome.
Lauren Valenzuela, Esq.
Performant Recovery, Inc.
Call analytics because it allows an agency to monitor calls efficiently, as well as serves as an effective tool for coaching and developing a collector’s skills. It’s a win-win for both the compliance and the collections departments – and I like win-wins!
Alison Verges Walters, Esq.
Kelley Kronenberg. P.A.
The most useful technology in my practice currently is a system we use by Provana to manage all of our policies, procedures and testing. The amount of oversight and auditing has multiplied in the last few years and this technology has been vital in helping us manage it.
Annette M. Waggoner
Commercial Collection Agencies of America
I believe one of the most useful tools a commercial collection agency can integrate is call recording software. Call recording is vital when an agency is faced with allegations of misconduct. It allows managerial staff and ownership, along with legal counsel, the resource of verifying the conversation between parties. Tangentially, call recording can also be useful in the development of a collector. Recalling how a situation is handled, in detail, can serve as a practical lesson to improve the skill set needed for effective negotiation and collection.