The accounts receivable industry thrives on innovation of method and technology. This innovation first takes form in the minds of thought leaders. Collection Advisor reached out to industry leaders and colleagues to gather nominations for technology/service providers in the collection industry that strive to work side by side with professionals to improve the industry’s efficiency and the country’s economy.
To qualify, executive officers of collection technology vendors were asked to provide advice for collection professionals and respond to candid questions from Collection Advisor Editor T. Steel Rose. Their insight will allow collection professionals to do more with less. Rose learned about collection performance rates in Europe, clear-your-name Festivals in Brazil and many other collection insights to be covered in a later issue.
The following are the Top 30 Technology Thought Leaders of 2018. In light of recent changes in many Americans’ paychecks, leadership from each of the following partners are asked:
What advice would you offer accounts receivable professionals as take-home pay has increased for 90% of American consumers due to tax changes?
ROBERT POLLIN | President & CEO
“Providing consumers with self-serve payment options has grown significantly – with more than two-thirds of Americans in the US leveraging digital banking and payment channels. Online payment portals and automated phone systems enable accounts receivable professionals to be more efficient and encourage consumers to self-service their debts as disposable income increases.” Pollin added, “There is a reprieve in the heavy handed approach from the CFPB.”
THOMAS MOHR | CEO
“I suggest that collection agents learn and understand how the federal tax-withholding guidelines affect them personally. Using that knowledge, collectors can educate consumers on how they can actually afford to pay any higher amounts the collector will be asking them to pay. It should be used on the talk-off side to ask for higher payments on monthly payments.”
EDGARS “EDZ” STURANS | CEO and President
“Consumers will likely take advantage of extra funds for new purchases. Their ability to pay will not necessarily increase their interest in paying off past debt. Since consumers will have better cash flow, offering payment plan options along with multiple payment channels, including self-serve options, should increase overall payment volumes.” Sturans added, ”The interactive website can be very helpful especially for millennials.”
JOHN RIPA | President
“During customer conversations, accounts receivable professionals should strategically present favorable take-home pay and tax changes as opportunities to accelerate debt relief. Speech analytics should ensure tax-related dialogue occurs during live conversations. Call scoring and keyword spotting should determine which tax-related conversations and keywords produce the most collections revenue. You could pop a script based on the words.”
JEFFERSON K. KIM | President
“You should be cautious making long-term spending plans based on next year’s revenues from tax changes. Tax code changes can be reversed. A great possibility however is investing in something now that will lead to future savings or efficiencies, such as a new software platform or employee training and development. The predicative dialer is interesting because even if the dialer regulation eases up, the way people use their phones has evolved. They may not pick up their phone at all, but after an initial consent, text messaging becomes more common.”
LAURENT TABOUELLE | Executive VP
“Review collection strategies for certain segments of consumers. Modify strategies utilizing flexible technologies. Utilizing AI based on statistical data is gaining momentum to profile debtors and optimize the strategies. Along with business process modeling technologies and easy payment mechanisms through debtor web portals, the CPR [collection performance rate] will keep going up.” Tabouelle added, ”In continental Europe, for example, the CPR is 70% for agencies, 60% for banks and 30% for utilities."
AJAY KAUL | President
“This 90% of Americans will derive benefit but they have to anticipate to be potentially being under-withheld for tax year 2018 thus owing money later. Accounts receivable professionals should consult consumers and negotiate payment terms or make more effective wage garnishments.”
COMTECH SYSTEMS INC.
FRITZ SCHULZE | President
“As the U.S. economy improves, AR professionals have a better opportunity to increase cash flows by taking advantage of new applications and technology available from suppliers who provide automation and contact plans that are both effective and compliant at price points never before available. Customization is key.”
JEFF DANTZLER | President
“Agencies must continue to leverage all forms of outbound contacts, messaging and payment portal options, while at the same time reducing security risks by moving their collection platforms to the cloud where their cloud partners can offer best-in-class security standards. It has been a century of manipulation of data and security breaches like Expedia, Russia or North Korea. The best way to partner is with someone like Microsoft Azure in the cloud. Focus on dealing with the issues in the cloud, which reduces the expense. The workstations remain the same.”
CORNERSTONE SUPPORT, INC.
MATT PRIDEMORE | Principal
“The tax changes on the personal side along with rising wages and full employment have led to consumer confidence levels we haven’t seen in over a decade. That coupled with the changes in leadership at the CFPB have made this a great time to invest in the ARM industry. There is a change in energy, more start ups in the last nine months than in the last six years.”
CARL BRIGANTI | President & CEO
“This anticipated increase will have competing attention from consumers as they make decisions as how to use the extra cash. In a way, this is an extended “tax season” and AR professionals should deploy the same strategies that are typically limited to “tax season” in order to compete for the additional earnings. Tactics which improve payments include targeting the right dials using real-time, propensity to pay, waterfall data and SMS text campaigns.”
EFT NETWORK, INC.
ALEXANDER R. BACON | President
“Additional ‘cash in consumers’ pockets,” that would presumably be available for debt re-payment (among other things), will vary significantly based on their gross income level, state of residency and whether the person owns a home. Be mindful of the tax benefit, but stick to your basics on collections strategies!”
STEVE PLATT | Group President
“For years, the industry has talked about right channel, right time and right offer. But, now it’s a reality. Businesses can access data and technology to gain insights about customers and communicate with them on a personal level by assessing their ability to pay, ultimately preserving the long-term relationship. There is a fervent desire to understand the view of the financial position of the consumer.”
INNOVATIVE E-PAY SOLUTIONS
GARY ADAMS | President
“This increase represents small amounts of extra cash per paycheck, not a lump sum like previous tax rebates. ARM Professionals will benefit by actively encouraging payment plans! Automated solutions provide 24/7 convenience to the debtor, ensuring the highest possible payment while reducing overall compliance exposure and cost to the agency.”
MATTHEW HILL | President/CEO
“My advise would be to continue to apply industry best practices when communicating with consumers. Fair and compassionate treatment will always yield the best results regardless of the economic climate. It makes a win-win-win, for the client, the consumer and the agency. If the climate is on the upswing then improved collection results will be a natural by product.”
JAMES DUNLAP | CEO
“Be prepared. The ARM industry requires ARM professionals to be prepared to adapt to changes in the market. Favorable market conditions are not advantageous unless you are prepared to capitalize them. The primary focus should always be on improving core competencies as they define success.” Dunlap added, “The ARM industry is no stranger to ups and downs. Adaptability is the key”
THOMAS C. BROWN | Senior Vice President, U.S. Commercial Markets and Global Market Development, LexisNexis Risk Solutions
“Getting to the right consumer quickly and in a compliant fashion are the most critical factors for collectors. Understanding the financial well-being of the consumer also is important so that a collector can customize repayment. Indicators like employment, liens, judgments, bankruptcy, property and other alternative data elements provide deeper insights. There has not been a dramatic change in paying down debt based on the tax break.”
JONATHAN BROOKS | President
“Although take-home pay has increased, there’s still outstanding debt. Skip trace data needs to be accurate and excess data must be reduced to improve phone penetration, right-party contacts and dollars collected. The faster you reach a consumer, the less competition you’re likely to have – making payment recovery easier.” Brooks added, “Not just phone numbers, we are constantly analyzing the data.”
KEITH GOODNIGHT | SVP, Product Development & Management
"Implement smarter data strategies to identify those most affected by tax rates. More money will increase consumers’ moving status, so monitoring address and phone changes will help maintain contact. Also, use collectability scoring strategies to prioritize collection resources on consumers realizing higher paychecks before others claim the additional income.”
JEFF FLOOD | Director
“As consumers have more income it is a great time to focus on their employment, finding where they work and communicate with them at work or go for a garnishment since consumers have basically gotten a raise and thus are probably going to stay longer with their current employer. With a better job they may stay put and be easier to locate.”
CHAD DEATHERAGE | CEO
“The more a consumer realizes resolving a debt will bring peace of mind, the more eager one is to pay. Having compliant, responsive and emphatic agents on your team is the key to bringing in top-dollar revenues and taking advantage of the new tax law.”
MANPREET SINGH | President
“Tax breaks mean consumers have more disposable income to apply to outstanding accounts, but it’s important for ARM professionals to provide frictionless bill payment options. Payment portals allow consumers to set bill payments online - or via IVR - through an easy, convenient, self-service platform.” Singh added, “New technology from Visa will ensure a card number is never visible.”
RANJAN DHARMARAJA | CEO
“Consumers will not voluntarily pay their bills because they have extra money. They still need to be contacted and persuaded to pay. This is not your father’s business! Today’s collections is all about change and old technology is not going to address the millennial paradox, mobile technology, the need for AI, chatbots, automation or analytics. For dealing with the millennial paradox who don’t want to answer the phone, Quantrax deployed a collection robot. It recognizes several languages, determines balance and has an intelligent engine for settlements.”
JOHN TELFORD | President of Financial Services
"Given ongoing wage stagnation, an increase in take home pay will be helpful to individuals striving to meet their financial obligations. Agencies should engage consumers using omni-channel communication and payment solutions that create a positive experience by making it easier to fulfill obligations in a convenient, compliant and secure manner. It is not just a millennial, consumers are over the fear of dealing with computers. It is a mass consumer swing. Customers want an interactive experience."
DAN HORNUNG | President
“Many accounts receivable items are collected from a socio-economic segment that may not be representative of this statistic. Determining a consumer’s ability to pay should always be the top priority for any accounts receivable professional. Their tax situation, especially during tax season, is always an important part of the equation.” Hornung added, “You need to determine their communication style and adapt to it; and that is not trivial.”
SENTINEL DEVELOPMENT SOLUTIONS, INC. [ECOLLECTIONS]
CHRIS J. ROBERTS | President/Chief Operating Officer
“Because margins are already thin, my advice to ARM professionals would be to take a look at all of your existing business processes and see how automation (workflows) and automated collections practices (consumer portals) can reduce the need for human intervention during the collection process, thus further reducing costs. The more a collection operation can collect in a fully automated fashion the better.”
SIMPLICITY COLLECTION SOFTWARE
CHRIS CAMPBELL | CEO
“Automation! Find solutions to help you automate current processes and jump on collecting new accounts quicker. Quickly addressing new accounts and easily moving accounts between collection and AR processes in an automated fashion ensures that you are able to capitalize on and close out profitable accounts quicker without increasing overhead. Have software identify those who are going to make payments and are going to continue to stay on a payment plan.”
TERREL BIRD | CEO and Co-Founder
“We believe accounts receivable professionals should recommend consumers be fiscally conservative with their incoming cash flow and prudent with their spending habits. As more money comes into consumers’ take-home pay, we believe they should save and diversify their incoming revenue and be weary of quick and easy marketing ploys.” Bird added, “Business intelligence permits management to see every aspect of a call.”
PAUL GIES | President
“Get notices of consumers’ debts out around common paydays to be top of mind when the extra money comes. The quality of the call is better because they are calling back to get resolution. Our clients have immense success delivering voicemails on the 1st, 15th, 30th and Fridays so they are top of mind when the consumer has time to call and make a payment.”
JACK GORDON | CEO
“I’m not usually one to give advice on how to collect money as I wasn’t particularly good at it. But it’s tough to go wrong when striving to be the one collector above all others that a consumer wants to pay. Always be respectful, positive, helpful and authentic with consumers. There is the great convergence of a great economy and a more favorable compliance environment.