The history and future of automated debt collection platforms

“By using emails to drive the paying consumers to a self cure payment website and make their payments, I also drive with 100% compliance. And, the consumers that do need help on the phone are assisted by my pleasant staff that is no longer making thousands of outbound calls and are now answering inbound calls generated by consumer friendly emails. The inbound calls reduce compliance issues and are much more pleasant calls in which to handle by my staff.” Johnny B.

As regulations increase and the CFPB pushes for more consumer friendly options, it was inevitable that debt collection would embrace the self cure approach. Driving the consumer to a website that can authenticate and collect from the consumer with no human interactions seems like a no brainer.

However, the first versions of automation just took one payment in full or pre-arranged a partial payment which still required the collector interaction. And, at first, it also was hard to drive the consumers to the actual website as the adding of the site on the collection letters was not very effective. So, we invented a website that can negotiate with the consumer itself. We started off trying to work with And, at Avatars because as collectors, we saw this replacing the collector, literally. But, that didn’t work too well. So, once the “scary” Avatars were deleted and the web experience was changed to just a simple payment site, the results improved. But, there was still another challenge, owners still struggled with driving traffic to the site.

So, we the new strategy was to add the website address to the collector talk-offs, and on the hold music. We also made the blurb in the letter bigger. The URL’s of the sites got easier to remember and spell. This worked, and resulted in a fair return from these sites for many agencies. Now, in 2016, we can build on this and ramp this up even further by adding text and emails.

But, there’s still work to be done with the open email rate. The email open rate is a challenge as most ARM professionals see this as replacing the physical mailed letter and that’s not what this is. The email is not a replacement to the mail, but a driver for the payment site or inbound calls. It’s a call to action, and a way to educate and remind the consumer (consumer hugging) about what to do, and where to go. Just like the Avatars were not the replacement for the collector, emails do not replace collection letters; they evolve them.
Lighthouse Consulting and SoftVu have created an automated marketing platform for collections that delivers the right message to the right device at the right time. We’ve created a system that works.

We have developed strategies to drive consumers to that payment site or to make a call, inbound, that is more compliant. We are now successful at getting the consumers to opt in to the campaigns and interact with the messages as well. That’s a big game-changer!

Lighthouse Consulting and SoftVu has developed SoftWave Collections which is an electronic communication strategy that sends soft waves of pre-written sets of messages to consumers over time.

These messages often take the form of emails and texts, although other media can also be utilized. .These messages are designed with one focus in mind: to drive the consumer to a payment site or inbound call.
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.

SoftVu offers a state-of the-art automated email and text messaging platform designed to meet the rigorous compliance demands of the collection industry. For over 15 years, SoftVu has been serving the banking, mortgage and broader financial services industry by offering the most advanced email marketing automation solution available.
Today, this advanced contact automation technology is being offered to the ARM Industry. Built from the ground up to meet the regulatory compliance requirements of the TCPA, FDCPA and CAN-SPAM Act, SoftVu has developed a fully compliant, double opt-in, automated digital communications suite designed to deliver the right message, on the right device at the right time. It is being used to increase collections and lower the costs associated with dialer and letter campaigns and for agencies to work portfolios with less human intervention, while lowering collection costs.

Phillip W. Duff

Phillip W. Duff the Founder of Lighthouse Consulting was trained in Six Sigma while working for Bombardier Capital in 2001, and is highly successful helping organizations improve their processes using the Six Sigma methodology. Mr. Duff has consulted with numerous companies over the last 10 years and has shown the ability to enact cultural change in a company. He has also initiated programs proven to drive positive revenue growth both as an employee and a consultant. His focus is to help CEO’s with a focus on growth. His knowledge of technology and background in debt collections have combined to help companies automate processes and identify which processes provide profits. Mr. Duff has also developed a unique process of initiating cultural change as a part of developing a revenue-driven atmosphere in a variety of formats. This unique philosophy and technique are unseen to date. His substantial experience in the collection industry, Six Sigma core competency and extensive industry relationships can provide you and your team a matchless perspective into your accounts receivable business or any business strategy.

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