TOP 5: Characteristics of a Good Collection Agency
As we collectively attempt to sprint though the final months of 2020, 2021 will not be without its own challenges. While the collection industry experiences its highest recoveries since the 1980’s, unemployment, a new wave of targeted lockdowns, and uncertainty over additional Government stimulus could turn this sprint into a crawl. Having a Good Collection Agency will be crucial as the economic impacts of COVID -19 become apparent to your industry. In this month’s blog post, we reveal the top 5 characteristics of a good collection agency.
- Experience is crucial to a debt collection provider; it means that the client can trust the validity of the information and resources the collection agency provides. This trust is crafted over decades of supporting the industries they serve. A good collection agency should not only be an authority to its own industry, but an authority on collections as it pertains to your industry.
- Leadership: Now, more than ever, experienced leadership is a vital component of a good collection agency. During normal and uncertain times, experienced leadership understands what is right for both client and customer: focusing on opportunities while communicating best practices or potential obstacles.
- The Team: A good collection agency has dedicated, well-trained customer service and collection professionals. Accreditations from organizations like the American Collectors Association International should be a benchmark.
** TIP: Ask for the average tenure of the team handling your accounts. As with any industry, a
high average tenure for employees is an indication of a well-managed company.
CLIENT: A good collection agency should have fixed strategies but offer multiple options.
- 1st or 3rd Party Collection product lines (fixed price/ Contingency Fee)
- Litigation: should the client choose to go in that direction.
- Reporting: The agency should be able to send your monthly reports in all formats and delivery methods
- Remitting: Gross or Net Billing, monthly checks or ACH.
CONSUMER: Just as important to the agency as the client, the consumer must also have options.
- Payments: There should never be an obstacle to a customer making a payment. All options should be available to the consumer, including an online platform.
- Contact: Phone/email/fax/text message – All contact options should be available to the consumer assuming they fall within FDCPA guidelines.
- Pay Structure: Payment in Full, payment arrangements or settlements (at client’s discretion) should all be options on the table.
A collection agency can have a skilled collection team, but if they cannot provide a consistently high-quality experience with a client’s contact team, they will not recognize you for outstanding work. A good collection agency has a dedicated CSR to your account, who will respond to inquiries and requests on a regular basis. The goal of the customer service team is to create a working business relationship between the client and agency to ensure consistency and mutual profitability.
**TIP: Call the agency’s 1-800 number, does it send you into a call tree? Does a live agent answer the line? Are emails responded two within a timely manner?
At a time when even kitchen faucets have a mobile application to operate, a good collection agency must have an online portal for its clients and customers to interact with. A client portal provides clients an intimate look and absolute oversight over the collection process. At any time of day, from any computer, authorized users can input new accounts and check the individual status of any account listed. In almost real time, you can read the collectors notes, see when letters were sent, and conversations with the debtor on an individual basis.
With the increased demand of online communication and digital payments, a client portal where your customers can make a payment is essential. Your customers should be able to visit the portal and make secure payments via e-check, credit card, or debit card at no additional fee.
** TIP: Ask for a demonstration of a prospective collection agency’s client portal.
As the digital world continues to expand, data security is important for companies to ensure the safety and confidentiality of their client’s data. An effective risk-based privacy and security framework should apply to all good collection agencies. As your evaluation team is vetting potential agencies, there are certain compliance and data Security certifications they should be looking for.
- Network Penetration Tests – Audited reports from a 3rd party company testing network security.
- Overall review of network security standards and protocols.
- SSAE CERTIFICATION – Annual Audit to review business practices and overall security
- PCI Compliance – Gold standard in payment account data security.
- PPMS Certifications – American Collections Association Professional Practice Management Certification.
These 5 bullet points should give your management team an excellent starting point when choosing a good collection agency.
**TIP: The agencies you evaluate should have a Compliance Manager who can provide this information before contracts are signed.