Do you want to control your companies online reputation on all the top consumer review/complaint websites?

Lighthouse Consulting aggregates your good and bad consumer reviews from over 100 websites like Facebook, BBB, Twitter, Pissed Consumer and Google so your company can easily monitor what your customers are saying about you — in real-time!

You can hear every word stated about your business on Social media. Lighthouse Reputation Beacon is a service that automatically sends a review request to your company or the CEO’s cell phone, scoring new reviews for your business directly on Google and Facebook.

Lighthouse Reputation Beacon aggregates your reviews from top review sites. See what consumers are saying about your agency or law firm, in real-time.

With Lighthouse Reputation Beacon, your business can manage negative reviews with easy-to-use tools to address customer feedback quickly.  Your companies great reviews are collected from major sites are indexed by search engines for higher search ranking

Your positive reviews are auto-published to Facebook, Twitter, website, custom review site and 50+ consumer site.

You can generate a steady flow of positive reviews from your happy customers, via mobile, check-in, SMS & email campaign. And all the aggravated reviews are sent to you in real time so you can take action immediately.

With the Lighthouse Reputation Beacon, your business is found by search engines — accurately and up-to-date — across all the major consumer sites.

Lighthouse Reputation Beacon will generate and download ROI reports showing growth in reviews, ratings, traffic and ROI to support business decisions.

This service is very affordable, to learn more call Phillip W. Duff at 904-687-1687 X 101.

When your management is spread too thin how do you manage them?

The majority of the management teams I meet today are just spread too thin. With reduced profits and increased workload created by compliance and regulations, today’s management teams are unable to be effective.

Many many companies have great management in place but they are unable to complete projects that are critical to the company’s growth. When meeting with today’s owners and their management teams while doing my consulting I find more and more really great teams are being stretched so thin that none of them are at 100% effectiveness. Every project is lacking the extra work it will take to create the GREAT results needed by today’s changing business environment.

Use better tools

I talk to the owners and they tell me all the wonderful initiatives that the company is undertaking, yet when I speak to the management team they just tell me how overworked they are and how they’re unable to keep up with all the projects on their plate. They are looking for help to get more done with less people.

As a consultant what I find is missing falls in the hands of the owner not the management team. What is missing it Is a clear plan to accomplish all of the task required or desired in a defined timeline. It’s not that everyone cannot  accomplish all of the tasks it’s that no one knows which one is most important or what needs to be done first or next. The owner must learn to prioritize and supervise their management team at a higher level in today’s complex environment.

In order to provide a clear plan to your team I am than using the same basic format for decades. An agenda. Yes just something that simple can help the group to prioritize and assign task in one simple location.

I use three sections in my agenda, new business, old business and parking lot.

Each item has someone of a group of people signed to it and timelines or milestones. A new agenda is created after each meeting or significant event in the project. Everyone involved is given the most updated version each time one is created even if they missed the event or meeting.

The answer is a clear communication of priorities and desires in a written fashion that is constantly updated and distributed. If your a CEO, department leader or manager learn this new trick today and get more done tomorrow.

The 3 Most Ask Questions About Agents in Jamaica

While I have been speaking to people regarding opportunities in Jamaica I have been getting the same three questions over and over so I thought I’d like explained them here.

The first question that is pondered is can you understand the agents? My answer is clearly yes. The first time I went to the island as an auditor for Bombardier Capital the language skills were very good along the call center workers yet there was a clear accent among other Islanders including resort workers.

Here is a link to a redacted call from a recent (August 2016) collection call from a Jamaican call center in Montego Bay. 

Over the last decade even those accents have diminished tremendously. I’ll tribute a large majority of this to the fact that the island started receiving Cable channels from the US and Canada about eight years ago. So they are watching the same channels you are in Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Montréal, Los Angeles and Miami. This exposure to used car commercials and endless reruns of Seinfeld has changed their language skills and understanding of the US economy.

The second most ask question is do they have the infrastructure to handle my Technology needs. The answer to that has been yes for many years. Initially most of the infrastructure for call centers doing business on the island was created by the government in an area called the free zone. Nowadays the same infrastructure exist throughout the island but especially in Montego Bay and Kingston.

The final question everyone ask is is it safe? My answer is you’re just as say in Montego Bay as you are in Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles or most larger cities in the United States or the world. Jamaicans really want to be Americans therefore their attitudes towards foreigners are very positive. The Jamaican government makes sure there are only a limited amount of visas issued to the United States as it fears there might be mass exodus if borders were oped wide. I have traveled many places in the world and most places they do not like Americans, one of the reasons I have been traveling back to Jamaica over the last decade is the Jamaicans positive attitude towards Americans.

Jamacian Call Center News

One of the services provided by Lighthouse Consulting is near shore call center management, consulting and agency set up, particularly on the island of Jamaica. So in order to better educate my US call center operators I will start providing information about call centers that are involved in debt collection, debt settlement or other ARM services in Jamaica.

an overturned boat on the beach in the Caribbean. Boat is painted "Rasta" colors.

an overturned boat on the beach in the Caribbean. Boat is painted “Rasta” colors.

Let’s start by giving you some information. Jamaica is a major call center destination receiving and making calls around the world to English-speaking countries. Call centers handle everything from Pizza delivery orders in Montréal, Medicaid healthcare products sales, Cable TV sales, debt collection and many other projects. There are tens of thousands of trained call center workers in Montego Bay and Kingston. Vistaprint has they’re only worldwide call center in Montego Bay and is one of the major employers of the city. Delta, Fingerhut, American Airlines, Insurance companies and many more all use call centers on the island.

I first came to the island as an auditor for collection accounts that were placed in there with Alliance One in 2000. So as you can see the island has a long history of debt collection. In future articles I will provide information on some of the call centers that currently exist on the island and how they may Bring value to your debt collection operation. With the average wages for a trained bill collector in Jamaica equaling half that of the US and similar results, the ROI is easy to caculate.

Reasons to use a Call Center in Jamaica

English is the primary language 

Accents are mild and pleasant

Jamaica is a call center hub

Favorable wages 

ROI is high VS USA staff

Close to manage (1 hour flight from Miami, 2 hour flight from D.C.)

Work lower unit yield accounts at a profit

Data entry and admin functions

Insurance reps

Transfer agents

wZtizoK

My Recap of the Denver ACA Conference 2016 and Comic Con 2016

The 2016 ACA conference in Denver was refreshing, to say the least. It was apparent from the moment I arrived that this was going to be a different conference. Not only was it an educational event full of enthusiasm, but the week also coincided with Comic-Con and Denver gay pride week. The city was lively with activities and fun events, creating many memorable moments.

Even though the Costumes from Comic Con were very distracting, (not to mention FUN), my biggest takeaway from the ACA conference, is that the industry is alive again.

27674227832_85dde03242_bOver the last few years, with all of the compliance issues and a decline in placements, the industry has experienced a theme of doom and gloom. This year, Denver’s conference reflected an optimism and upbeat attitude towards the future. Companies were anxious to find solutions that would stimulate growth and a bright future for industry leaders.

Compliance, which was the main topic over the last few years at ACA, DBA, and NARCA, was a secondary topic, rather than the primary focus. It seems the industry has gotten used to dealing with the compliance issues of today’s collection environment and are now looking for ways to perform business at a higher level that still produce acceptable profit margins.

The decision-makers I met with were looking for technological and operational improvements for their collection agencies or law firms, rather than just moaning and complaining about the increase in regulation. It appears the mourning period is over, and now we are ready to morph into a new life. Companies are focused on opportunities for automation, process flow improvements, more profitable vendors, and advances in technology opportunities that can improve their bottom line.

Vendors like Vo Apps have been around for many years and are now getting traction as the industry is ready to try something new.

There was a lot of buzz at the conference regarding the merger of Columbia Ultimate and Ontario Systems. The two vendors set up booths next to each other and took advantage of all the questions and interest regarding the recent merger acquisition. I expect it to take a year or before we will fully understand the direction of the new company.

There was a smaller number of vendors in the exhibit hall, but that has been a trend at each of the conferences in the last three years. Several new vendors to the industry were represented, and a few from the old guard were noticeably missing. Based on the vendor selection custom programming, contact management, data append, and software development made up the bulk of the service providers.

Overall, I believe the industry has turned the corner and is looking forward instead of backwards or just looking down at their feet. Even though the industry is very challenged by compliance and a lack of placements, it appears that providers who are forward thinking will lead the industry for many years to come.

To learn more about my thoughts or recommendations going forward, or if you just want Comic-Con photos, please give me a call at 904-687-1687 X 111.

27684314262_930ddeaee2_b

 

 

 

Everyone Has a Smart Phone Why Don’t You Have a Smart Collection Strategy to Match?

Max McKeown famously said, “Adaptability is the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”

Eniac_Aberdeen

The debt collection industry has found itself facing increased regulations as the industry adapts to new laws and legal precedent regarding collection practices. These changes have led to exploding compliance budgets, as companies scramble to meet ever-changing standards. Strategy changes within your company must match new compliance requirements, enabling your company to rise to the top of this dynamic industry.

One of the more difficult regulations that have evolved revolves around contacting debtors on their cell phones, TCPA. As more consumers ditch landlines, and nearly 2/3rds of adults rely on smartphones for both personal and business contacts, accessing this communication channel has become a high priority.

What you need is a smart strategy that will work with all of your consumer’s smartphones. 

notification-of-new-message-on-smart-phone

The best strategy a company can incorporate is enticing customers to “opt-in” to email and text messaging. By communicating with the consumer via their smartphone, you will have higher contact rates and stronger results. I recommend that my clients use every opportunity to get the consumer’s permission for both cell phone and email messages. The successful implement of this strategy requires the company to add verbiage to all current communication methods, providing the customer with ample opportunity to approve additional channels. With every phone conversation and every collection letter sent, additional contact methods should be requested. Even hold music, and payment site visits can promote the benefits of opting in by providing a pathway for the consumer to sign up for your Smartphone strategy.

Once the customer has accepted communication through their Smart Phone, we can create a strategy around both texting and emails that drive the consumer to self-cure at your payment site or drive a compliant inbound call.

These are the smartest strategies to adopt because they remain fully compliant and offer the lowest cost per transaction.

What Does The Famous Poem El Dorado And Compliance Have In Common?

My favorite poem has been Eldorado by Edgar Allan Poe since I was in elementary school in the late 60’s. At that point in my life I was a poor, only child of a single mother in Southern Georgia and thought the idea of travel seemed so exciting we had only traveled to Tennessee to see family and Summers I spent time at my Grandparents house which was only 60 miles away. The time at grandmas was half child labor as I had to shuck bushels of peas, can vegetables and tend the garden and half a great leaning experience. But I wanted to see the world not just places with relatives. I wanted to find a spot of ground that was perfect, I was in search of Eldorado.

conquistadors

The poem speaks of a gallant Knight on horseback who is searching for Eldorado for most of his life and is finally told its there, just over the mountains and over the moon. Well Compliance is also there just over the moon in the valley of the shadow. Compliance like Eldorado is about the search, the horse ride, not absolute compliance.

In 2016 finding compliance to all the regulations and state requirements requires a long ride over the mountains and over the moon. So lets discuss how most of the agencies and law firms I run across are handling the compliance journey. ….

Gaily bedight,

   A gallant knight,

In sunshine and in shadow,   

   Had journeyed long,   

   Singing a song,

In search of Eldorado.

   But he grew old—

   This knight so bold—   

And o’er his heart a shadow—   

   Fell as he found

   No spot of ground

That looked like Eldorado.

   And, as his strength   

   Failed him at length,

He met a pilgrim shadow—   

   ‘Shadow,’ said he,   

   ‘Where can it be—

This land of Eldorado?’

   ‘Over the Mountains

   Of the Moon,

Down the Valley of the Shadow,   

   Ride, boldly ride,’

   The shade replied,—

‘If you seek for Eldorado!’

Looking for a Collector? Get a Robot Who is Effective, Cheap, & Doesn’t Complain

Well, your next collector should be a computer, not a live human capable of making mistakes that end up as CFPB complaints. Using automation to drive consumers to self-pay options is the future of debt collection. Yes, your next and best collector should be a robot.

Using a payment site to allow your consumers to self-cure their debt is the most compliant and least expensive way to get your portfolio collected. The only problem is how to drive the consumers to your self-cure payment portal.

Let’s quickly break this down. So, you’ve been using this payment portal for 2 years now and you consistently put up the self-cure link on all your outbound letters. Great, But the results are just fair at best. You tried getting your staff to recommend the site when calls did not end in a collection, but the staff did not see a benefit, so they were not bought into the process. Frustrating.

Next, you decided to step up your game by using emails to get consumers to go to your payment site. So you contacted your letter vendor and started getting consent from consumers to send them emails. But, your opt in consent grew so slowly that you were unable to send enough emails to get an appreciable lift because the collectors were not bought into the strategy sufficiently enough to get the consumer to accept communications this way.

What you needed was a smarter email tool…one that could not just send the mail but track its lifespan. To track its open, read, clicked, what device viewed it, opened again and so on. You need to build a “story” around each person that you emailed. You need to know what happens at every action from when that email was sent out. It’s the only way to learn how that single person engaged, or abandoned and then figure out where and why and “fix” accordingly, building an effective strategy without guessing or wasting money.

There’s help. There is a full feature Marketing Automation Platform designed with the needs of the collection industry in mind. More than just an email system, the SoftWave Collections platform is an intelligent email marketing system that applies rules-based logic to email campaigns designed to optimize your results. These messages often take the form of emails and texts, although other media can also be used.

Soft Wave campaigns are distinct in two ways:

(1) the timing of the messages follows a pre-determined course, there’s a focus.
(2) the messages are sent in an automated fashion that speaks best to a specific behavior or status of the consumer.

If you are looking for a COMPLETE solution and less frustration and guessing, contact me today.

Phillip W Duff / CEO
Lighthouse Consulting
904-687-1687

Contact Automation Software is the New Uber

The SoftWave Contact Automation program delivers a rules-based email contact strategy that replaces human, manual work with machine logic to control the sending and receiving of compliant email messages.. This reduces the amount of time an agent spends on each account. By sending the consumer measured email and text messages and not just dunning notices, the collection experience is softened. Messages can include a number of different types of content including text, audio and video messages which can effective for consumer education purposes. Providing an unattended channel, this allows the consumer to respond on his or her schedule, 24/7. Properly developed processes and decision automation can significantly change the economics of the collector by reducing staffing and increasing compliance and liquidation rates.

An agent ends up on average handling 200-500 accounts. But, with strong process and decision automation, this number increases dramatically. By utilizing automated and electronic communication channels, the program can follow up with consumers in shortened cycles, allowing them to work with larger portfolios of accounts compliantly. Once an agent can handle larger volumes of accounts using automation the cost and risk will reduce accordingly.

Using Soft Waves of electronic messages, relevant settlement opportunities are presented to the consumer the way in which they prefer to engage, and provide data on when those offers might be accepted. Over time, we can learn from the customer’s behavior to become Uber effective.

The debt collection process isn’t a driver of customer satisfaction. If anything, it’s a high source of risk. The thousands of calls you make daily are more likely to create risk today than ever before.

But when you automate debt collection, many of these problems will disappear or be significantly reduced. Once the risks are diminished, more opportunities will arise.

If you believe that debt collection will migrate to emails in the future you must read this now

Let’s face it the collection industry as we have known it for the last 50 years will never be the same again. With regulators and clients controlling most of the agencies and law firms processes, there is little chance for an operator to find ways to reduce cost while maintaining compliance and increasing results. But if you agree that phone call will be the last option in debt collection and electronic communication will be the new channel to the consumer then you will be very interested in what I have to say.
It is my belief that emails and texting Will be the wave of the future incompliant debt collection. But the wave of the future is already here. What many of you have not spent the time and ever to contemplate is just how you will not only send but track those emails. The power of the email is not realized  until the consumer opens it and then hopefully reacts to its content in some way.
Most current software packages can send an email, but that is not enough to do business electronically. The marketing world has been sending blast emails with the tracking functions for many years and this is the type of technology that the collection industry must embrace. The ability to not only send an email, but track when it is opened, track which offer was clicked on, what time of day it was opened, doing IP reputation work and much more will be required for agencies and law firms who desire to do business electronically.

Lighthouse Consulting has developed Soft Wave Collections which is aelectronic communication strategy that sends soft waves of pre-written set of messages to consumers over time. These messages often take the form of emails and texts, although other media can also be used. Soft Wave campaigns are distinct in two ways: (1) the timing of the messages follows a pre-determined course; (2) the messages are sent in an automated fashion applicable to a specific behavior or status of the consumer.

 

Screen-Shot-2015-10-26-at-1.26.24-PM

So if you’re a naysayer, you’re asking questions like “How do i get the consumer to opt-In to my email campaign?” Or maybe you’re saying “ My client won’t let me do that.” well I have solutions for all your excuses. Once again and if you believe that emails are the future of debt collection, then you need to talk to lighthouse consulting about our Soft Wave Collections.