So long as accepting a payment from a consumer is in a collection agency’s collection process, a successfully implemented electronic payment solution is a must. However, there are many missteps taken by collection professionals when selecting and integrating the system. In an effort to reduce the number of obstacles between collection staff and a paid account, be informed on current electronic payment technology and avoid a few common mistakes.

finley bonnie“Credit/Debit Card and ACH are two completely different types of transactions,” said Bonnie Finley, chief sales officer at EFT Network. “Agencies need to know who is on the back end and if they are keeping their transactions compliant and secure. In the world of ISO, sub ISO’s and reseller of a reseller it’s difficult to peel back the onion. However, understanding this is vital and is often overlooked until it is too late.”

“Many times an agency doesn’t do a thorough due diligence on the provider,” said Robert Pollin, president of Autoscribe Corporation. “You must ensure the security and compliance of any provider considered.”

“Quite simply, a strong end-to-end payment integration means that payment data is never stored locally on a merchant’s servers and should allow for real time acceptance, authorization and processing all without ever writing down card info or batching payment files,” said Michael Loscavio, president of Paid- Suite. “We recommend that merchants review their payment practices quarterly to ensure proper integration, training and process - a good payment vendor should be more than willing to help you with these audits.”

updike dawn“An important consideration when shopping for an electronic payment solution is to consider the work flow for your staff,” said Dawn Updike, customer success manager at PDCflow. “Does the payment solution create a user friendly and simplified work flow? Does it include compliance considerations that are unique to the collections industry? Does it offer online payments or IVR services? Especially for the collections industry, a payment solution that offers the path of least resistance to allow for inbound payments is going to increase revenue.”

If a great deal of work has been done to make sure an electronic payment portal functions according to regulations and an agency’s needs, it must be assured the consumer can reach and use it easily.

“It is critical to prominently include the portal on all consumer-facing communication,” said Tim Schriner, CEO of RevSpring. “After investing in an online portal, you need to make certain consumers know it exists and find it easy to access. For example, your organization could place a “Pay My Bill” button on your website home page, include the portal address on your hold messages, use a hyperlink on your email and SMS communication as well as make clear call to action on your printed communication directing consumers to the portal.”

“I think that a common mistake by agencies is that ‘if you build it they will come,’” said Matthew Hill, president and CEO of The InterProse Corporation. “They don’t. Not without some help. The agency needs to “market” to the consumer using as many channels as possible. The payment portal URL needs to be easy to remember, highlighted on all correspondence, added to music/message on hold and added to the corporate website.”

Though not the most important aspect of an electronic payment solution, cost tends to dominate a collection professional’s attention. Be sure to fully understand precisely what is being provided and what is being purchased.

jeffers michelle“Ask about the difference between merchant, processing and web transaction fees,” said Michelle Jeffers, VP of business development at Applied Innovation. “Vendor offerings differ greatly; be sure to know what you are comparing.”

“One of the biggest mistakes an ARM company can make is to pick a provider based only on price, not service, that works with just a handful of agencies,” said Manpreet Singh, president of APS (Powered by Payscout). “Collection agencies need to do appropriate due diligence and know their vendors - the CFPB requires it. A payment processing company that is experienced in the industry will serve hundreds of ARM companies, understand the regulatory challenges that collectors face, have solid relationships with banks that actively seek ARM merchants, and be able to set up a merchant account that is legitimately labeled as accounts receivable management so that there is no danger of being dropped just because of industry affiliation.”

While avoiding all of these missteps may not quite guarantee success, it will certainly help an agency get closer to its goals.