How TrueAccord Thinks About Experimentation

By on October 16th, 2017 in Data Science, Industry Insights, Machine Learning, Product and Technology, Testing

Experimentation in the movies sometimes gets a bad rap – you think of mad scientists blowing up labs or aliens arriving to probe unsuspecting humans or accidental AI monsters. It leaves the imagination to form an image of experimenters as cold-hearted, calculating and removed from reality. Real world experimentation is typically much more mundane, but the stereotypes often linger. This is unfortunate. The primary goal of experimentation (if you’re not a mad scientist) is: Does this thing work like I think it does? Does this feature deliver the results or benefits it is supposed to? If not why?  This makes it an extremely powerful tool for designing products that work and are actually good for customers.

At TrueAccord we believe that experimentation is an integral part of designing a product that fulfills our mission toreinvent the debt collections space by delivering great customer experiences that empower consumers to regain control of their financial health and help them to better manage their financial future.Whenever possible we launch experiments, not outright features. This strategy has three main and essential benefits:

  • Tests our instincts are right or our models are functional

  • Allows us to gain valuable insights into who our customers are and what they need

  • Mitigates potential negative effects

Test Our Instincts: How do you ensure your team is actually moving the product forward? Only investing energy in features and experiences that will create an effective and positive debt collection experience? Experimentation. The TrueAccord team is full of clever people with clever ideas, but we know it’s important not to found our product on untested hunches. By testing our instincts before taking another step in the same direction, we make sure we invest energy where it matters and wait to develop our knowledge base before proceeding in directions we clearly do not yet understand.

Customer Insights: Understanding why your product works is often more important than understanding if it works. The real benefits of an experimentation infrastructure are in its ability to provide diversified and descriptive data as well as the emphasis on stopping to take a look. At TrueAccord we know it’s essential to understand if we’re looking at the problem the right way and if not what we’ve missed: Do we understand our customers’ needs?

Example:

We launched a new “better” email format that we rolled out as a variation across a spread of existing email content. After a 3 month run, we asserted that it was indeed performing significantly better in terms of both average open and click rate. This was surprising. We hadn’t changed anything that should have affected opens.

New base template content saw an open rate increase of ~10%!        First Email: New base template and Second Email: Control

Upon further investigation, we realized that the new format unintentionally changed the email preview from displaying the start of our email content to consistently showing a formally-worded disclaimer! We then launched another experiment to ensure our findings were correct.

Mitigates Negative Effects: It’s easy in any industry to get blindsided by simple outcome metrics, especially in debt collection where the end objective is repayment. At TrueAccord we would consider it a failure if our product worked, but it worked for the wrong reasons – if our collections system converted, but didn’t provide a good experience for the consumer. Experimentation is our first wall of defense against treading down this path.

Example:

After researching existing accounts, we realized there was a need for more self-service tools in payment plan management. We developed a new payment plan account page and rolled out an experiment that automatically redirected some customers to this page any time they viewed the website while their plan was active.

We found that this did decrease payment plan breakage and increase liquidation, but because our system was set up to detect other types of impact we discovered it also increased outreach to our engagement team in the category of “Website Help”. Consumers were confused as to why they were not landing on the pages they expected upon navigating to our website. We had the right idea, but our implementation was not ideal for the consumer.

Experiment vs Control: % of inbound engagement team communication by category (total # of inbound communications was approx. the same) 

Experimentation is not foolproof, getting these benefits comes from having an infrastructure that allows you to assess if what you built is useful and, if designed correctly, understand why. Indeed, through experimentation, we’ve grown our product to function effectively over diverse areas of debt and over the past few months alone improved the number of people who complete their plans by almost 4%, with a few simple experiments. Every small change compounds, and at TrueAccord’s scale, this means many more people who pay without experiencing any disruption. !  Check back soon for how we designed an experimentation structure that allows us to reap the benefits described above and fuel our collections product forward.

Introducing Account Dashboard To Enable Flexibility and Control for Consumers

By on October 4th, 2017 in Debt Collection, Product and Technology, Testing, User Experience

We are very excited to announce the release of a new feature in the TrueAccord Collections Platform, the Account Dashboard.  The dashboard gives a consumer a comprehensive view of their individual account, enabling consumers to manage their account in real-time, including view balance, payment plans, disputes, and access to financial resources.  This is going to significantly improve consumer experience by giving consumers more control and flexibility to manage their account and their financial obligations in a flexible way, according to their needs.

Our product and data science teams are always looking at ways to improve user experience and engagement by A/B testing new ideas and collecting user feedback.  Our machine learning platform is powered by a decision engine that draws upon millions of previous interactions to deliver digital, personalized experiences for each consumer. Sometimes, the result is a change in contact strategy for a specific set of accounts, but often we also see an impact on the way we design our user experience. This is one of these times.

A time for shifting paradigms

When we started TrueAccord, we were focused on creating a variety of contact strategies and the flexibility to deliver personalized consumer experiences and gather data that we could learn from and make actionable over time. So, we created a wide variety of offers and developed many landing pages with different value propositions, each of which was promoting a particular “offer”, as well as ways to attract consumers to look at those offers and act on them.  While it was simple for our team to create many pages and A/B test offers, we began to realize we were providing an “e-commerce” experience to consumers.

The “e-commerce” experience created a one-way relationship between TrueAccord and the consumer that responded in a limited way to changing consumer habits such as the use of digital technology to self-serve and a desire for individualized products and services. As consumers started getting familiar with the TrueAccord brand and our algorithms became more accurate, it was obvious that an ongoing relationship model better serves the consumer and yields better results, because consumers appreciate the transparency and feeling of control over their financial health.  Counterintuitively, they were starting to trust us, the collection agency. We also started to get feedback from our engagement team that consumers wanted to take advantage of offers they had previously received via email, but now couldn’t easily access. They were starting to think about TrueAccord like any account-based financial services firm they interact with.

We had to take a step back and ask a few key questions:

  • What was the market demanding from us?
  • What was our vision for the TrueAccord consumer experience?
  • Was the experience we were providing reflective of our vision and market needs?  

We realized that our first goal for the product was achieved: consumers don’t think about us as “the bad guys who chase me”. They think of us as a service provider that helps them with a part of their financial lives, and they want more: more engagement, more context, more options.  Consumers wanted the ability to login and view an account page, make payments, adjustments, etc. Part of TrueAccord’s mission is to become a platform for empowering financial health, through digital, data-driven, personalized experiences. So, a redesign was in order.

Creating a consumer-focused collection experience

It sounds counter-intuitive when it shouldn’t. Debt collection is an activity focused on recouping money that consumers owe but didn’t pay, but it can just as much be focused on helping consumers pay the money they owe. In fact, most consumers want to pay but are unable to for a variety of reasons. Creating a consumer-focused experience means providing a seamless, targeted, customized interface that is easy to manage and works with their day to day needs.

The Dashboard allows TrueAccord to show a consumer their available offers and options, while consumers, through their actions and feedback, let TrueAccord know what is or isn’t useful or helpful. It is truly a big step up in realizing our original vision for the product: introduce a system that puts consumers at the helm, in control of their lives and finances, and on the path to financial health.

Mobile

In some cases, more than 70% of traffic to TrueAccord’s web app is from mobile devices. We needed to make sure our new interface is easily accessible and navigable via mobile devices. The new dashboard interface is better optimized for mobile to meet consumer preferences. Consumers can access their account information at any time, from anywhere, giving them a reliable way to stay up to date with their account and to contact us if they have any questions or concerns.

Payment Plans

One of TrueAccord’s most popular payment options is our payment plans. 84% of consumers with debt balances over $300 choose to pay via a payment plan. Unfortunately, a large number of consumers set up plans but drop off before completely paying off their debt. Sometimes it’s because the payment plan amounts are too high, or dates don’t correspond well with the consumers pay days when they have money to pay. By developing a relationship with the consumer, TrueAccord is able to mitigate difficulties and provide solutions to help them get back on track.

Our goal is to be a platform for financial health that empowers consumers to get out of debt by giving them the control and flexibility of paying off their debt in a way that works for them.  This feature is a huge step in that direction.

Life at TrueAccord: September Edition

By on October 2nd, 2017 in Company News, Culture

September has been a busy month at TrueAccord. We wanted to share some of the highlights as we take a break from it all and enjoy some themed food and drinks at our weekly happy hour. Since September in SF is one of the nicest months, we took our happy hour to a rooftop BBQ in SOMA, we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hold on to summer for a bit longer and enjoy a great evening with our coworkers.

We are also growing quickly, all our teams are expanding, and we added some key hires in September to help us delight our customers and build a platform for financial health. We added, David Han (Implementation Manager), Megan Thielman (Client Success Specialist), Tim Collins (Chief Compliance Officer), Gopi Karunamoorthy (Accounting Assistant), Adam Gomez (Senior People Operations Associate), Matt Botts (Customer Success Manager), Lilia Paz (Customer Engagement Specialist) Nick Bright (Customer Engagement Specialist), Tyler Watt (Customer Engagement Specialist). Come work with us!

Yelp Partners with TrueAccord to Deliver Digital Collections and Streamline Data Loop for Customer Engagement

By on September 28th, 2017 in Company News, Debt Collection, Industry Insights, User Experience

Highlights:

“TrueAccord saved our collections team tons of time, the integration with their system was fast and easy, without needing to do tedious, manual tasks.”

“Our company goal is to grow a large, loyal and happy customer base. TrueAccord’s digital collections process supports our goals by extending a great user experience to the collections process.”

“Digital, personalized collections are driving high engagement rate.”

“With TrueAccord we have timely data into customer standing.”

Challenge:

Yelp was founded in 2004 and is now one of the largest platforms to connect people with great local businesses. Traditional agencies required a lot of man-hours and manual processes.  Yelp faced several challenges with the traditional agencies; first, they required a manual process to transfer debt accounts, which was both time-consuming and tedious, requiring lots of forms and faxes being sent, lacking automation and data tracking functionality that Yelp required for business success.  Second, the agencies were employing traditional collections tactics that did not adhere to Yelp’s values.

 Why TrueAccord:

Yelp was looking for a collections agency that would increase recovery rates and help the collections team save time by automating the account transfer process as well as deliver great consumer experiences to support their brand and customer satisfaction. They needed a data-driven collections process that would streamline the visibility into consumer account status, so they could better serve their customers and run their business.

“TrueAccord’s digital collections process was a natural fit for Yelp,” says Parker Asche, Senior Collections Analyst. Yelp’s customers are used to digital interaction, and TrueAccord’s consumer-centric, digital collections process was an extension of our business practices.

Benefits:

“TrueAccord saved our collections team tons of time, the integration with their system is fast and easy, without needing to do tedious, manual tasks.” TrueAccord makes it easy for Yelp to continuously feed new account data into the system, without burdening their collections team with paperwork, saving the team time to focus on business objectives.  The quick transfer and collections process helps their business to continuously keep their customers engaged.

Consumer preferences are changing, and they demand a modern approach to communications. TrueAccord enabled Yelp to reach their customers via a communication method they prefer and engage with, and empower them with the ability to self-service themselves. Yelp is using TrueAccord to deliver engaging digital user experiences for their customers.

About Yelp:

Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP) connects people with great local businesses. Yelp was founded in San Francisco in July 2004. Since then, Yelp communities have taken root in major metros across 32 countries. By the end of Q2 2017, Yelpers had written approximately 135 million rich, local reviews, making Yelp the leading local guide for real word-of-mouth on everything from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and dentists. Approximately 28 million unique devices* accessed Yelp via the Yelp app, approximately 74 million unique visitors visited Yelp via mobile web** and approximately 83 million unique visitors visited Yelp via desktop*** on a monthly average basis during the Q2 2017. For more information, please visit http://www.yelp.com or send an email to press@yelp.com.

* Calculated as the number of unique devices accessing the app on a monthly average basis over a given three-month period, according to internal Yelp logs.
** Calculated as the number of “users,” as measured by Google Analytics, accessing Yelp via mobile website on a monthly average basis over a given three-month period.
*** Calculated as the number of “users,” as measured by Google Analytics, accessing Yelp via desktop computer on an average monthly basis over a given three-month period.

Press Release: Tim Collins Joins TrueAccord as Chief Compliance Officer

By on September 25th, 2017 in Company News, Compliance

TrueAccord, the debt collections technology company, has hired Tim Collins as Chief Compliance Officer. TrueAccord’s platform is powered by machine learning that uses a consumer centric, data-driven approach to help businesses recover more debt online than traditional methods. Collins joins TrueAccord from Convergent Outsourcing, where he was General Counsel and Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer since 2013.  

Collins has more than 25 years of experience in collections, having held leadership roles in legal and compliance at various financial organizations, including Hyundai Capital America where he established a comprehensive compliance system across all areas of the business. In his new role at TrueAccord, Collins will oversee the company’s legal and compliance practices to meet the requirements of the highly regulated debt collections industry.

“Having an industry veteran such as Tim join our team is a testament to the strength of our business and the major clients we represent, as well as our vision for how to transform collections for good,” said Ohad Samet, Chief Executive Officer. “The top 10 banks and lenders who use TrueAccord demand the highest level of compliance. Tim’s deep and relevant expertise will ensure we consistently meet and exceed their expectations.”

“After following TrueAccord for the past few years, I have been intrigued by their unique approach to debt collection, an industry that in my experience is ripe for disruption,” said Tim Collins, Chief Compliance Officer. “With an inspiring vision, a strong product, and an exceptional management team, TrueAccord is well-positioned for accelerated growth and investment. I look forward to contributing to the company’s continued success and to helping shape the future of the collections industry.”

Collins received his JD from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, and completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of Iowa’s Tippee College of Business. Collins is an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego Law School where he teaches seminars on in-house corporate practice; and he also serves on the Federal Affairs Committee for ACA International, the Association of Credit and Collections Professionals.

About True Accord

Founded in 2013, TrueAccord’s data-driven debt collection platform is disrupting the collections industry by helping businesses collect more debt online than traditional methods. The platform is powered by machine learning, with a decision engine that analyzes consumer behavior and delivers personalized consumer experiences by communicating at the right time in the right channel with payment options that meet their needs. TrueAccord is providing exceptional recovery rates for top 10 financial institutions, debt buyers, lenders and technology companies, and is empowering many of the estimated 77 million consumers who are in debt every year to get on a path to better financial health. To learn more, go to: www.trueaccord.com.

Industry Expert Says: Phone Calls Are Dying

By on September 12th, 2017 in Compliance, Debt Collection, Industry Insights, Machine Learning

Yesterday, in an article on InsideARM.com, Tim Bauer, the President of InsideARM, described a somber state of affairs:

The TCPA and the 2015 FCC Rules interpreting the act have effectively eliminated the use of technology to efficiently call cell phones. Land line usage is dropping like an anchor. The CFPB is on the brink of announcing proposed debt collection rules that are likely to reduce the number of call attempts that can be made. Now, add this latest call blocking technology and the industry is challenged again.

This is a strong statement from a prominent thought leader in the debt collection industry. Mr. Bauer pointed out many efforts by different regulatory agencies and how they impact call centers: “anecdotal reports of right party connects down by 15-30%”, as the FCC includes debt collection calls as an “unwanted call” category in it’s “robocall” blocking initiatives.

At TrueAccord, we agree. The industry has been seeing tremendous pressure on its ability to call consumers efficiently, not only because of regulatory pressure – this pressure is driven by consumer preference, and the fact that consumers often opt to not pick up the phone, not to mention opening a letter. As strong advocates for technology in debt collection, with our CEO now part of the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board, we will continue to support forward thinkers such as Mr. Bauer and others who call for the use of new technologies in debt collection. It is the consumer friendly, smart, and efficient approach for the 21st century, and we strongly encourage our peers in this industry to begin adopting and utilizing these channels in preparation for the CFPB’s expected Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, expected later this year.

Meet Our Engagement Team Members

By on August 29th, 2017 in Company News, Culture

TrueAccord’s mission is to reinvent the debt collections space by delivering great consumer experiences that empower consumers to regain control of their financial health and help them to better manage their financial future.  We are reinventing debt collection with data driven, personalized, digital first collections.  

While technology is helping reinvent debt collection and forge a better way to communicate with consumers, not all personal interactions can, nor should be replaced.  This is where our customer engagement team is making a huge impact in the process and engaging with customers to help them through a difficult time.  

Meet a few of our engagement team members and hear their stories.  

Meet Dean-Austin Mayor

   

Tell me a bit about yourself?

“I graduated from Santa Clara University in 2016, I studied psychology and music. I wanted to apply my degree to help people. The mission really attracted me to the company, it was about helping people and it was the real thing here.”

Why TrueAccord?

“After interviewing with the team, I really believed the company was focused on the idea of helping people through a tough situation.  I would have the opportunity to empathize with people and give them a better experience.”

What keeps you coming back?

“The culture.  Everyone works together, people are smart, the energy is very positive here.  I’m exposed to working with other teams, it’s a very collaborative environment and we’re all working towards the same goal.   It’s a great place to be even if I have a tough day.”

Advice for someone considering a role?

“It takes a level of compassion to have patience and understand where people are coming from, so you can understand them and work with them.  But don’t take things personally, not everyone wants to work with us, so you will have to handle difficult situations. But there are so many customers that are so surprised by how nice we are and how different.”  

What are the benefits like?

“They really care about the employees and provide great benefits.   We also have weekly happy hours, and a culture committee that plans events.”

Meet Kelly Young

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

“I am a bay area native, and when I moved back after college I was looking for my first job, and wanted to get experience in a growth stage startup. I was looking for a place to learn and the opportunity to grow. I was intrigued by what TrueAccord does.”

Why TrueAccord?

“The interview process was very fast and engaging.  I talked to a lot of people during the interview process and it felt like people were genuine, friendly and took the time to get to know me. It seemed like a great place to work.”

What is the culture like?

“There is a culture of learning here and changing things for the better.  People are constantly coming up with new ideas and better ways of doing things.  It’s great to be part of a company where I can see my ideas come to life.”

“Everyone is really smart here, they work hard, but there is a great work/life balance.  We are focused and prioritize what needs to be done, and when faced with a difficult situation or challenge we come together as a team.”

“It’s a great place to gain experience and grow with the company, this role is a chance to get in on the ground floor.  I’ve seen a lot of agents move to other roles, growth is definitely a huge thing here.”

What is the role like?  

“It’s challenging but rewarding, we are helping people in difficult situations. A lot of consumers have been in debt multiple times and have dealt with traditional agencies, so they don’t expect us to be there to help, but that is exactly what we do.”

What are the benefits like?  

“It’s a great office in downtown SOMA, open space, standing desks, great snacks, lunches, dog-friendly.  We also have weekly themed happy hours on Wednesdays, a nice way to break up the week and have fun.”

Meet Serena Cabrera

Tell me a bit about yourself?

“Originally I’m from LA. I graduated from Berkeley and really liked the Bay Area and wanted to stay here.  A friend referred me in, and I didn’t know much about the company, but then I researched, umm debt collection, I was skeptical.  But once I talked to everyone and learned about the way TrueAccord is really trying to change the industry, I took the leap.”

Why TrueAccord?

“It was the people that really made me want to come here, everyone was friendly and open, and there were great benefits.”  

What’s the Culture Like?”

“It’s a very open culture of bringing up questions and ideas and everyone collaborates. I was learning a lot, and everyone was very supportive.”

What keeps you coming back?

“It’s a great place to learn, this has given me the opportunity to be in tech. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do, and there are great people here to learn from and have exposure to other departments and mobility. I’m interested in UX, and my manager is very supportive and I get to talk to Shannon (head of UX and content) and learn what she does.”

Advice for someone coming here?

“Don’t be afraid to share your ideas and ask questions, and you have access to everyone here, so it’s a great place to take advantage of that and to have your voice heard.”

What is it like to talk to customers?

“It feels good to help people and to be able to give them a different experience than they have with other agencies.  It’s important to empathize with each customer, everyone has a unique situation.”

Join our growing team!  

Apply Here

Diversity Builds Successful Teams in Tech

By on August 15th, 2017 in Company News, Culture, Industry Insights

The subject of diversity is a hot topic in leading tech companies today. Many of them would have you believe that cultural and gender diversity is an important subject that they actively promote. Frequently, they use diversity statements and marketing materials to advertise the importance of programs geared towards building diverse teams. All too often, these efforts end up being nothing more than empty words on a page.

While it may sound politically correct to support diversity and inclusion efforts, behind the scenes, many tech leaders dispute how important this work truly is. Throughout the years, I’ve been confronted with executives in leading enterprises who have privately denied the importance of diversity. In each of these situations, I’ve prevailed in making tangible changes that have proven the importance of diversity to the success of a company. As a result of these changes, we closed the gender compensation gap with women employees earning 99.8% of the total compensation of men, as well as increasing the population of minorities in leadership positions by 18% in a caucasian dominated environment.

Obtaining buy-in to adopt diversity from leaders who don’t understand its importance can be tricky and challenging. In my experience, the lack of buy-in is due to one fundamental issue. Most arguments in favor of diversity are usually based on subjective or social opinions. For example, in the following statement, “Diversity is good for companies because of today’s more accepting societal changes,” the subjectivity is undeniable.

The methodology for implementing changes is grounded in facts, but it is also based on the values of a company. I’ve found that when you use company values as a measuring stick in addition to logic and evidence, arguments in support for diversity are much more compelling. Arguing over whether or not diversity is a good or righteous is simply the wrong question to ask. A better one is, “How is the performance of our company linked to diversity?”

Once you ask this question you can begin to define what both “performance” and “diversity” mean in familiar terms. For example, you can define “performance” as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) i.e. profitability, and market share etc; and “diversity” – as the blending of multiple characteristics of a company’s talent. After doing this, you can connect characteristics to demographics such as gender, ethnicity, race, age, experience, education, and attitude. Finally, after clearly defining “performance” and “diversity” you can point to many leading case studies that substantiate all the benefits of a heterogeneous workplace.

At TrueAccord, we believe that diversity is not just advantageous, but paramount to our success. We’ve experienced firsthand how this work can strengthen a company, especially in the following areas:

 

Innovation

The diversity of thought and expression will help tech companies develop the courage it takes to move from what is familiar to what is different. When you bring people together with different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives at the early stages of a company, you can seed the importance of fostering inclusion which promotes new ways of thinking as your company grows. The bottom line here is that diverse teams generate creative ideas that will ultimately drive your company’s results, and a company that harnesses that diversity has a much higher chance of success.

Attracting Top-Talent

The rare opportunity to join a multicultural environment in tech is a key selling point when recruiting top-talent in the Bay Area. As a potential employee, first impressions can make or break your decision to join a team, walking into an office and seeing a diverse work force shows you that the company is committed to diversity. Working at a place that truly values this work is incredibly rewarding. The best talent comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Harnessing this talent to accomplish your company’s goals will unleash ideas and solutions that will remove many of the roadblocks for those who only hire the same type and class of individual.

Productivity

Hiring diverse teams increases the range of knowledge and skills within that team, as each individual brings knowledge from past experiences to the table. This breadth of collaborative knowledge can be the secret sauce that gives your company the key advantage in a fast-paced, ever-changing industry like tech.

Concrete steps to increase diversity in your company:

#1 Remove unconscious bias during interviews

The recruitment process must support cultural, age, and gender differences at every stage; it’s important that managers are trained to combat the less spoken about unconscious biases they hold. This will curb the unconscious ability for managers to treat qualified candidates unfairly.

At TrueAccord we counteract the unconscious bias by redacting names and education on resumes which directs the focus to practical skills and accomplishments. Interviews are conducted with diverse panelists who focus on competency based questions, putting less importance on factors such as ethnicity, age, gender or the school someone attended.

#2 Make diversity part of your company culture

We’ve found that placing a strong focus on diversity contributes to higher employee engagement and retention rates. This is extremely important as technical roles typically have higher turnover rates.

#3 Implement a zero-tolerance policy for prejudice and install “Collaboration” as a Core Value.

Saying that diversity is part of our identity is a promise we take seriously. We take a zero-tolerance approach towards any negative actions or beliefs related to personal identity.

We also made a commitment to not just accept, but to celebrate our differences. To make this real we have implemented a Diversity Committee with rotating members who regularly serve as a resource to our working community by providing education, information, referrals, advocacy, coordination and support for specific diversity-related events and activities throughout the company.

TrueAccord Culture 

One of the main challenges of managing diversity is the demographic changes in populations. The constantly changing demographic profile of the broader population means that organizations need to develop strategies that will meet the needs and desires of the communities they work within. At TrueAccord, we service all types of people in debt across the US. Our mission is to help consumers in debt by offering options and trust as an alternative to blame and conflict, and it has proven incredibly successful. And because we have a diverse population of employees that reflects the diversity of people we serve, we continue to experience tremendous growth. As of August 2017, we have an almost equal gender divide with 53.85% male and 46.15% female population. Our combined multicultural population consists of 60.29% staff compared to 39.71% caucasian employees. Compared to national leading industry surveys 28% female vs 72% male populations in proprietary software, 25% female vs 75% male populations in Information Technology, we are changing the perception of what populations tech companies employ.

 

While we’ve had and will continue to experience growing pains associated with our significant gains in revenue, we work to overcome obstacles by practicing full transparency when looking back on our mistakes. This type of transparency starts at a grassroots level. We’ve learned that creating feedback loops and cascade meetings works in a culture that incorporates inclusive behaviors. These behaviors extend to performance evaluations, training, and when remediating problems.

By building inclusive communication practices, encouraging differences in opinion, and not tolerating negative attitudes, we continue to increase the diversity of our teams as we scale and grow. Not only are we reinventing an 80-year-old industry through technology and values, we are also redefining what populations in tech companies can do when they are composed of people from different backgrounds, ages, and perspectives.

Debt Collection 101: Where to Begin

By on August 7th, 2017 in Debt Collection, Industry Insights

The heydays of 2015 are over, and investors are looking at business operations and growth before opening up their checkbook for the next round of funding. They are pushing for better margins and cash flow. In the past, you focused on top line growth and knew that there’s another round coming. You can’t do that anymore.

You talk to your CFO and it’s obvious that chargebacks and late payments are a bigger line item than you’d want them to be. You don’t need to be a lender for that. You could have chargebacks from people who regret their purchase (but somehow forget to return the item). Some are on post-paid plans but their cards expire. Some use your product, incur penalties, and never pay them. Simply writing off the debt is not an option.  

Why not do collections in-house? You may decide to try an in-house collections department. Your customer service people aren’t too excited about the new tasks, so they make a few calls and send an email, but no one responds. Those that do pick up the phone are sometimes aggressive and your agents can’t handle them. You realize that collections and customer service are not complimentary job functions and need to be separated. You try to hire a collections professional and are shocked by the cultural mismatch. This isn’t going to work. You’re not going to invest a lot upfront in the hopes of recovering 2% of what’s owed to you.

You decide to work with an outside collection agency. These folks don’t speak your language. They don’t even know what an API is. They outsource their collection activity to Guatemala because that’s how they can make 6 calls per day per customer, cheap. They become defensive when you mention your customers don’t like being called and prefer digital channels like email and text. You want them to care about your brand and customers but their agents make commissions on every dollar collected and if they can’t make their numbers, they get booted. You see where this is going. It’s not going to work.

Here’s the thing: debt collection is part of the business lifecycle, and when implemented correctly, can help you get paid while maintaining your brand and customer engagement. It’s possible to collect and keep your customers satisfied. Collections can use digital channels and a self-service system that gives people the payment flexibility they need, improves your chances of recovery, and reduces the time it takes them to commit to a payment. We’ve seen collection rates as high as 27% for eCommerce companies, because many of your customers who fall behind want to pay. They just needed to be treated correctly – in the same targeted, data driven, UX-first approach that you use for the rest of your product. That’s what we spend a lot of time building.

The Debt Collection Rule is Coming in 2017 – Here’s What to Expect

By on August 7th, 2017 in Compliance, Debt Collection, Industry Insights

The CFPB just announced its 2017 rulemaking agenda. In its message, the CFPB states that it has “decided to issue a proposed rule later in 2017 concerning debt collectors’ communications practices and consumer disclosures.” InsideARM puts the date at September of this year. This is great news for consumers, creditors – and even collectors.

The rule is expected to focus on collector communication practices. Judging by the CFPB’s 2016 outline, that includes clarifications on the use of social media and emails for collections, as well as a cap on weekly contact attempts per account.

Emails and social media are consumers’ preferred channels for communication, even with debt collectors. We expect this rule to open the flood gates on responsible, consumer-centric, and scalable collection practices that will benefit everyone involved. We’ve written extensively on how machine learning based, digital first systems collect better than traditional solutions, and we expect these clarifications to greatly aid in giving consumers what they want.

Contact caps continue the trend of limiting the use of phone calls as means to communicate with consumers in the debt collection process. As we wrote before, the biggest challenge to the debt collection industry is that phone calls are becoming irrelevant. The CFPB is continuing the regulatory trends following consumer preference, and while it’s opening up new communication channels, it’s severely limiting phone calls. We expect this trend to worsen.

This rule is a boon for the collection industry. While it may be challenged by those who focus on getting the most profit out of old school technologies, those in the industry who embrace technology and want to help consumers can’t help but appreciate the trend. The regulator is paving the way towards better user experience, better cost adjusted technologies, and an ability to actually help consumers at scale. Industries like e-commerce, tech and fintech have been very focused on consumer experiences and cannot afford to subject their customers to traditional agency behavior.  And major banks and lenders realize that this revolution is coming, and many of them have already engaged in transforming their vendor network and internal operations to be future facing. This rule is another great step on that path.