Why did most of the major software providers begin to develop new software products about 5 years ago? Why are the same companies being sold or merged at an alarming pace? The answer is that they are all sitting on an infrastructure that is outdated and it is easier to start over rather than build on the strong foundation they created or excuse, they did not create.
These systems were built to present screens with specific data to workers in the collection industry, so calls, letters and paperwork could be completed. I was a debt collector when the industry switched from ledger cards to computers and it was built to bring the data from the ledger card to the screen and nothing else. Well, most of the systems since then have accomplished the same thing – Get the account details on the screen and let the agent make the decisions. And why did the industry initially convert to computers? The FDCPA and other regulations required more control over the ledger cards that can be lost, changed, destroyed and altered very easily. In fact cards were lost daily.
Enter modern day collections and new regulations. Many years later, our systems fetch the account details to our screens and allow bulk append and updates; a great advancement but not much more. With the predictive dialer, we can also make millions of phone calls to the same phone numbers, not necessarily collecting more, but surely exposing ourselves to new lawsuits. The best improvements to the industry have been through vendors who are providing more technology such as dialers, payment portals or more that simply bolts on or integrates with the basic system. Many systems require work outside the system using SQL or custom programming. Many agencies and law firms that use SQL now have an SQL database staff member in their organization, so that they can be nimble enough to make changes to their system, that the system will not allow them to do directly.
Here are questions you should be asking your software provider;
- How do you create compliance with today’s complex regulations?
- As an example, do you have a systemic solution for forcing agents to ask for express consent every time there is an RPC?
- How can your system stop a human from making a mistake?
- If there are business rules I can set up, can they be defined at the client, state and city-level?
- Do you accurately count attempts, contacts, messages and letters, and manage contact frequency for multiple clients and jurisdictions?
- How can I make changes to the system without expensive IT personnel?
- What is the average dollar amount your clients are spending on custom programming annually?
- Why do my agents need to write on paper? It is a security risk.
- Are you encrypting sensitive data at rest, including client account numbers which may have credit card numbers?
- Can your consumers access their account and make a payment using a smart phone, tablet, a PC or an IVR?
- As mobile computing races ahead, are your management dashboards available on a smart phone?
- Is e-mail and the internet a part of consumer communications?
If your software provider does not have a plan for these features, it is probably because their aging infrastructure does not support the modern data base required to create these options. Unfortunately, you cannot build new technology for today and tomorrow without committing to several years of development. If your software provider waited too long, the gap is probably too wide to clear with enhancements and “fixes”. I think you have two choices. You can run your business on a system of yesterday, or you can look for a new option.