TrueAccord Welcomes Laura Marino, Chief Product Officer, and Charles Deutsch, General Manager of Financial Services

By on July 27th, 2020 in Company News
TrueAccord Blog

As the US is starting to understand the impact of COVID-19 and its aftermath on our economy, more consumers are expected to default and find themselves dealing with debt. Banks, lenders, and other financial players are accelerating their digital transformation roadmaps, shortening years’ worth of development into mere months, in an attempt to service consumers at scale while managing the complexities of our new normal and the limitations of outdated infrastructure.

This push to digitize rewards market leaders, and as a result TrueAccord is growing, and every month we serve more consumers and more financial institutions than we ever did. Growth attracts clients, funding, and world-class talent, and the latter is what we’re excited to announce today.

Laura Marino joins TrueAccord as Chief Product Officer. We work with some of the most sophisticated financial institutions in the world, and they require outstanding innovation, speed to market, and high-quality execution. Consumers need delightful experiences and a helping hand on their way back to financial stability. Laura’s experience at Lever and other enterprise-facing technology companies will be instrumental in upleveling our product offering, meeting our clients needs, and articulating a roadmap that combines an understanding of regulations, robust architecture, and an ever-evolving, high-performing servicing capability that supports financial institutions and consumers alike.

Charles Deutsch joins us as General Manager of Financial Services. TrueAccord offers low-friction, easy-to-use repayment tools for consumers who are ready to tackle their debt repayment journey and improve their financial stability. Regardless, many consumers can’t pay their debts because of financial difficulties. Charles will draw on his vast experience in running fintech businesses to build tools to help consumers improve their financial situation, and as a result, their ability to repay debt.

Laura Marino and Charles Deutsch join a world-class team composed of company Founder and CEO of TrueAccord Group, Ohad Samet, Sheila Monroe as COO and CEO of TrueAccord Corp, Gene Linetsky as CTO, Noah Barr as CFO, and Nadav Samet as CIO and General Manager of True Life Solutions, which launched the game-changing consumer product, Engage.

New Report: Consumer Debt in the Age of COVID-19

By on July 7th, 2020 in Company News, Industry Insights

Today, TrueAccord released Consumer Debt in the Age of COVID-19, a report exploring how debt repayment and other consumer behaviors have changed throughout the coronavirus crisis. Based on aggregated, anonymized data from 12 million U.S. consumers, the report highlights that consumers choֵse to pay off debt when provided with an infusion of cash, even during a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty. Despite an initial slowdown as the crisis worsened in the U.S, debt repayment volumes hit a record high on April 15th, the day the first wave of CARES Act checks hit bank accounts.  

Key insights and trends from the report include: 

  • Consumers chose to leverage their CARES Act cash to pay down debt. On April 15th, there was a near-instantaneous increase in debt payments as the first wave of checks hit bank accounts. Payment dollars were 25% higher than the previous tax season peak. 
  • One-time stimulus changed consumer behaviors. With stimulus checks in hand, consumers flocked toward paying off their debt in full — the rate of lump-sum payments was 50% higher than the same period last year. The ones who did sign up for payment plans chose shorter payment terms with higher monthly installments. 
  • Payments will continue to be irregular. In early March, nationwide panic led to decreased engagement and payment activity from consumers. While stimulus payments and unemployment benefits empowered consumers to pay off debt in record numbers in April and May, that trend won’t remain constant over the coming months.

“TrueAccord has always known that consumers in debt aren’t villains or victims — they’re caught in a difficult situation, trying to optimize for day-to-day survival while managing their obligations,” says Ohad Samet, CEO of One True Holding Company, the parent company of TrueAccord. “So when presented with an unexpected windfall and fewer spending opportunities, many of these consumers chose to repay debt. This trend was especially clear for a company like TrueAccord, which puts consumers in charge, by providing self-service tools, rather than coercing them into making a payment.”

With an uncertain economy and the possibility of additional stimulus packages, debt collectors must be prepared for unusual spikes in engagement and payment in the coming months. In order to best serve consumers, they must streamline their processes to make it as easy as possible for consumers to pay their debts when they choose to and to modify their plans when they can’t. The report includes four recommendations that companies collecting debt can implement to update their operations for this unusual time. 

“Consumers have learned to expect digital-first solutions from their financial service providers, and the collections industry needs to keep up,” said Sheila Monroe, CEO of TrueAccord. “Our systems and processes empower consumers to engage when they want to, where they want to, using their device and channel of choice, and provide the flexibility to set up payment arrangements that fit their irregular schedules.” 

For more information, download the full report, Consumer Debt in the Age of COVID-19, here.

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Working with the new consumer: An interview with Mike Walsh

By on May 28th, 2020 in Company News, Industry Interviews

TrueAccord is bringing together industry experts to continue the collections revolution. Today, we’re joined by Mike Walsh, TrueAccord’s Vice President of Enterprise Sales. With over twenty years of experience in the collections industry, Mike has been an active part of the evolution of collection practices and standards. His more recent work has been focused on helping drive technological and customer-focused change, and we discuss what those changes look like for collectors and consumers alike.

Mike Walsh, TrueAccord’s Vice President of Enterprise Sales

What can you tell us about your background in collections?

I got started in the industry in 1996, right out of college. Everyone’s dream is to go into collections and sales, right? I started in a position primarily handling client servicing. Even back then I saw that people have a negative view of the industry, but my experience has been really positive. I’ve met a lot of great people in collections and continue to build great relationships. 

This really is a relationship-oriented business. The industry is based on trust, and I learned early on that your reputation is really what you’re selling. Whether you’re in client services or on the phone with consumers, you have to constantly build a reputable brand. 

Looking to bolster your brand reputation? Here are some tips to get you started.

I’m thankful that I have been able to work on teams where I really believed in the product and the people. Your reputation and your company’s reputation are directly tied together, and it’s great to feel confident in both.

You were directly involved in the collections process for many years and more recently, you’ve turned to working with companies that aim to optimize and customize others’ collections processes. Can you talk a bit about how you feel your experience working in collections management has shaped your perspective on these newer tools and services?

More than anything else I’ve seen customers change. It’s gotten more and more difficult to reach consumers over the phone; people just aren’t answering phone calls anymore. It’s part of what I call the “Amazoning of America”—consumers don’t call in to order a product or a service, they pull it up on their phone, press a button, and they’re done. 

Understanding how we as an industry help the customer in light of these changes is tough. Adjusting to these needs efficiently in an effort to provide a better user experience has always been my focus. Giving people the ability to choose is more important now than ever. You hate to tell someone “oh, we don’t do that” when they request a specific way of doing business with you. 

In order to adapt to this changing customer, I always keep my eyes open for new tools with enhanced efficiencies and use that to help guide my professional pursuits. If a product or service benefits the customer, that benefit will trickle up to the client. This is how I found VoApps, and it’s part of why I joined TrueAccord. Both companies focus on how to improve the customer experience in a way that is less intrusive to the consumer. 

Even social media channels can provide another way for consumers to find you. The more flexibility that your team can offer, the easier it is for the customer.

Every consumer-facing industry is looking for ways to be less intrusive, and, as a consumer myself, I totally understand. That evolution important to me. I have a special needs son, so my time is very valuable. If someone is calling me it had better be important, and if it isn’t, my first thought is “why didn’t you just text me this?” 

Going off of that: it’s clear that you see the value in emerging technologies and changing behaviors in the industry. What are some patterns that you’ve seen develop in your career that have driven these changes, and why is now the time for these new approaches to collecting?

The development of customer-focused and customer supported technologies drive changes in the industry. When I was on the phones in the 1990s working as a collector we had “hot contact times” from 6 pm to 8 pm—the best time to reach people. Then the rise in cell phones made contact centers completely rethink how they were getting in touch with people. The evening “hot contact times” didn’t exist anymore when people started carrying their phones in their pockets.

Right now there is a need to provide a collections experience focused on customer service. People rate everything. Consumers are reviewing restaurants as if they’re big-screen TVs, and they want to share that information—and share it quickly. If you’re aware of this, you can harness it. You can build your company around consumer choice and those choices, in turn, will support your brand.

In debt collection, that means developing your product based on your consumer’s needs and experimenting to determine what consumers prefer and what they do not. Consider how they want to connect and when? How do they like to do business? Then build more of what they prefer.

Did that at all impact your decision to join TrueAccord?

I couldn’t fathom that a collection agency had a positive Google Review rating until I first saw TrueAccord’s 4.8 out of 5 stars. It helps illustrate the importance of building a platform based on meeting consumers’ needs and making sure that they associate your brand with a positive experience. 

What do you think comes next for the collections space?

I’ve always been a big believer in the power of behavior science and machine learning. It doesn’t surprise me that its application to the collection industry, especially by a company focused firmly on a customer-focused approach, is disrupting one of the oldest industries in the world. The big reason I’m here is to help the team bring this customer-focused future to the rest of the industry.

Are you ready to build a customer-focused debt collection experience for your business? Talk with our team today to learn how we can help.

TrueAccord discusses adapting to work-from-home

By on May 21st, 2020 in Company News, Industry Insights

TrueAccord’s Director of Service Operations, Cassie Cox, and our General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer, Tim Collins, hosted a webinar on May 13th, 2020 to talk through collections continuity in light of the COVID-19 crisis. The team discussed adjusting to regulatory changes, how to effectively manage a work-from-home approach in collections, and what the future of the industry may look like. 

How are federal and state regulations changing?

Federal-level regulatory updates

The pandemic has prompted the US federal government to examine how it can work to aid Americans in need. Following the CARES Act, the House has proposed a new, $3 trillion relief package, and we are likely to see other potential stimulus packages discussed as the Senate proposes their own stimulus plan. Major industry organizations like insideARM and the ACA International are watching these unfold closely, as should we all. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s activity has not slowed during the pandemic, and they are on track to meet their examination goals this year. Remote auditing processes are in place and buzzing. They may not be in your offices, but the CFPB’s teams are still actively working to ensure the industry remains compliant.

State-level regulatory updates

Several states, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, are pursuing legislation that directly impacts the ability of collectors to reach consumers. Massachusetts’ Attorney General recently enacted an emergency law that outright banned collections efforts.

This was fought by the ACA, and the law was declared too broad and in violation of First Amendment rights, but the changing playing field does not end there. New Jersey has worked to pass similar legislation which has now been narrowed to primarily impact medical debt collection practices. 

There will also likely be a heightened focus on state budgets and an increase in understanding how to bolster state economies. 

As of this writing, forty-seven US states are either reopening or partially reopening by lifting shelter-in-place orders. Twenty of these state legislatures are now back in session and may begin to make other changes that collectors should keep an eye on. There will also likely be a heightened focus on state budgets and an increase in understanding how to bolster state economies. 

One major change that seems to be for the better is the newfound flexibility for collection agencies and other companies to allow employees to work from home. This behavior is being echoed by Rhode Island’s new “stay healthy” order which has started the reopening process but is strongly encouraging employees to work from home when possible. Collections is beginning to adapt to the changing need, and TrueAccord was able to adapt quickly.

How is collections operations changing?

Maintaining control and information security in a work-from-home environment

TrueAccord’s team began to prepare for potential risk to our operations in early March by reviewing and updating our practices, policies, and procedures to make sure all of our teams could effectively work from home. 

Here are some of the standards we established as we transitioned 80% of our agents to work from home full-time:

  1. Replicate an effective office space
    1. Agents must have a private area in their home and commit to working their shift uninterrupted.
    2. Agents must have a minimum internet speed of 50Mb/s in order to maintain high sound quality on calls.
  2. Enhance work from home agent information security
    1. Agents do not take payments over the phone. All payments are received via IVR or guided through our secure payment portal.
    2. Agents are not permitted to have cell phones near their workplace.
    3. Agents are monitored by their supervisors via webcam with at least two random checks throughout the day. 
    4. Calls are randomly monitored by supervisors to ensure continued commitment to exceptional customer service and quality.

These were only made possible by bringing on new technologies and building processes before we dove in headfirst. We also made sure that all of our agents fully understood these new practices in advance, and they signed off on the policies ahead of time. The 20% of our team members that are still in-office (at safe distances) continue to meet the same standards as the other agents. 

Our contact centers directly support our omni-channel approach to the industry. Here’s information on three other channels we use to reach consumers.

The remaining 20% either opted to not work from home due to a lack of interest or they were not permitted due to their homes not meeting security requirements (e.g. not having a private space, not having a fast enough internet speed, etc.). 

Managing agent performance standards remotely

Call centers are filled with high-energy individuals that are driven by their wins. Maintaining the same hum and energy of an office space without sharing the same space is difficult, and we’ve taken steps to keep our agents excited about their work.

Meet (virtually) Face to face 

A robust virtual management system has been put in place to keep building our team’s connectivity. The webcams we provided to our agents not only help with security monitoring but also increase our ability to build team morale. All of our agents are dialed into (and muted on) a Google Hangout or Zoom meeting throughout the day so that at any point they can turn and see their teammates working hard. 

This practice has also extended to our new management strategy. All of our contact center team meetings are required to be on camera so that we get face time with each other. These meetings include small group meetings, individual coaching sessions, and any other 1:1 meetings as well. 

Encourage conversation

Look for opportunities to create additional team touchpoints. Our current structure includes:

  • Weekly coaching sessions
  • Weekly team meetings
  • Random, weekly 15-minute huddles

We also have a wide range of Slack channels in place for sharing anything from anecdotes to best practices. In an office environment, it’s easy for folks to look over their shoulder and share tips and tricks, and those conversations drive positive change. Slack (and other work chat tools) also provide ways to circulate urgent updates with ease.

Keep the excitement up

We’ve increased our budget for intra-day chachkes, small giveaways, and rewards. Our in-office management style was largely visual: performance trend boards, goal setting boards, and team-based competitions were huge drivers for us. Now, we’re turning to setting up more contests. In this environment, a $10 gift card can get almost as much traction as a $50 card. It’s the thrill of the win, not necessarily the prize itself. Keep the energy up!

Monitor issues closely

The first two weeks of the work-from-home experiment were an amazing honeymoon period. There were three, consecutive days of perfect attendance in our contact center. Typical efficiency metrics like production volume per hour and average handle time have remained consistent. Keeping the same levels of performance is another story entirely, and close performance management is critical to making work-from-home, well, work.

We continue to track month to date metrics and just as closely monitor individual daily performance. Though many of our agents had no issue moving to a home environment, just as with any contact center, the bottom 10% of our group semi-frequently underperforms. It’s more essential now to keep a careful eye on red flags and correct underlying issues immediately. 

The biggest concern was properly tracking things like call or work avoidance or time card manipulation. Thankfully, with all of our systems are aligned and our supervisors actively checking on their teams, the only instance we found was caught immediately. 

Terminating a remote employee

Unfortunately, this is a necessary part of any operations manager’s role. In a work-from-home world, we still want to make it as direct an experience as possible. The full investigation, conclusion, and termination conversation should all be conducted via video conference.

Beyond the human aspect of termination, there are data and security considerations that should be tested ahead of time. Your team should understand how and when data should be cleared from a remote employee’s computer, and systems should be in place for the employee to either drop off or otherwise return their gear. Remember to accommodate for the possibility of lost assets. Some folks, even under contract, may not return your stuff.

What is coming next?

Changes in the office

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a lot of changes to the way companies operate in general. While it continues to unfold, we are likely to see more change. That said “Right now, maintaining [business continuity] means not changing anything,” said Cox. 

As shelter-in-place rules begin to lift, and we see some employees return to their offices, we will see physical changes:

  • New desk layouts
  • A possible return to cubicles or dividers and a shift away from open-plan offices
  • New air filtration standards for enclosed spaces

Changes in the industry

While the US economy recovers, we expect to see a massive wave of customers that are unable to pay their bills. Unemployment rates will continue to drive payments from slightly overdue to collections, and debt collection agencies and internal recovery teams are likely to struggle to meet the account volume. 

“Collections has long been driven by human capital,” said Collins in discussing the need for contact center agents. “Technology will have to step in and fill a new, higher demand.” He went on to add that alongside the increase in volume, we expect a change in collections mentality. In order to overcome the disparity between payment deadlines and consumers unable to meet them, there will be a rise in customizable payment plans, hardship plans, and digital, self-service tools.

Crises drive rapid evolution and change. Many business practices and technologies that were slowly gaining traction in a pre-COVID-19 world are now fast-tracked. Working from home is a must at the moment, and the collections industry has to embrace that. Moving forward, we’re likely to see new innovators that are reinventing an aging industry, and it’s time for collections to adapt. 

Operations insights: An interview with Tobias Campbell

By on April 21st, 2020 in Company News, Industry Interviews

TrueAccord is redefining the collections industry, and the fastest way to do that is by building the best teams. I sat down for a conversation with Tobias Campbell, a former operations manager at a payday and installment loan company in charge of in-house collections—and our team’s newest Account Executive—to discuss his experience in the industry, what challenges he faced in traditional collections (including falling right party contact rates and high employee turnover), and why he decided to join TrueAccord.

Welcome to the team! Before we dive in, could you tell us a little about your experience in finance and how your career led you into the collections space?

Prior to my start in collections in 2016, I worked at a large bank in the retail and private banking investment portfolio space. When I had the opportunity to transition to the consumer finance industry working in-house as an operations manager for a larger consumer lending company I wanted to take the chance despite collections’ negative reputation. I knew there had to be a better way to get in touch with consumers and change that perception.

What was your focus as an operations manager when you got started?

Initially, I spent time listening to agent calls and getting a clear sense of how they engaged with customers, and I was really determined to improve our right party contact rate. I helped transform the training process for agents to use more of a sales approach.

We still coached the team on building rapport with the consumers they were reaching, but also leveraged sales strategies in an effort to increase our overall performance. Beyond new training strategies for our agents, we started to dabble a little in sending emails, but they were basic drip campaigns consisting of a few manual emails per person. 

The small changes added up, and we were able to double our right party contact rates. But ultimately those improvements were marginal. Calling to collect wasn’t sustainable and the law of diminishing returns started to kick in, especially as we ran into more call blocking apps and services. 

So when training smoothed out, what were some of the other challenges you were running into? 

Two of the biggest ones we were facing were agent turnover and trying to keep up with the volume of accounts we were managing. We had to bring new agents on pretty frequently because of the high turnover rates. When agents first start there’s an element of excitement because they’re ready to start their new job. They can make a difference. They’d start off strong, but then we’d see those same people burnout in three to six months.

TrueAccord was performing 7 times better than our internal team, and that’s including the service fee that we were paying

It’s a very difficult job. Anyone that’s ever worked in collections knows that even if you manage to get a consumer on the phone, especially with an account that’s been delinquent for more than six months, the likelihood of securing that payment is slim. It’s hard to keep agents motivated and excited through that. Plus, there’s the compliance piece. 

Having the technology in place to ensure your agents meet all of the compliance obligations is a daily struggle. No matter the number of tools available, the amount of compliance training, or the level of oversight, there is always the chance for human error when you have live agents on the phone. 

At the same time, we realized that we were just getting too big, and our internal team could not handle our volume, especially with a declining RPC rate. We had our entire collection strategy in-house for so long, so we looked at our numbers, and the further accounts went into delinquency, the harder and harder it got to reach them. There was a need for a partner that could help us in the late-stage space. 

Our CEO at the time knew Ohad [Samet, the Founder of TrueAccord] and he saw what TrueAccord was doing—leveraging technology and email, which we weren’t really using—so we decided to send over any accounts that went beyond 120 days. We kept 10% of that paper ourselves so that we could compare effectiveness rates between the mostly digital and the call-to-collect strategy. 

What did that comparison look like?

The change was night and day. After six months, we saw that TrueAccord was performing on par with our internal team’s historic performance on those portfolios, but [TrueAccord’s machine learning engine] Heartbeat kept going. At twelve months, TrueAccord was recovering twice as much as we were on a percentage of outstanding debt, and by the time I left in early 2020, TrueAccord was performing 7 times better than our internal team, and that’s including the service fee that we were paying TrueAccord. 

We had customers that would get on the phone with an agent, and they would say “hey, can you send me to TrueAccord?” They would regularly talk about having more options, more flexibility, and the most common one was “they don’t call me 3, 4, 5 times per day!”

When you started to see the difference between TrueAccord and your internal team, was there any plan to try and update your practices to something more in line with what TrueAccord was doing?

We saw consumers gravitating toward digital communications over phone calls, so we recruited a product manager to research and build a digital strategy in house. There was some conversation around improving our email messaging by making the tone softer, since our current emails felt very businesslike and, well, boring?

There was a lot of talk around needing to make these substantial changes, but we didn’t know how. We didn’t have the infrastructure in place, we wouldn’t be able to automate content personalization the way TrueAccord does. Plus, the costs needed to develop the solution were a barrier to entry, especially when we already had a partner providing those services successfully. I decided that I wanted to join TrueAccord because I saw that unfolding, and I knew that TrueAccord had a differentiated product: a flywheel for this industry.

If you had to offer a final takeaway piece of advice to other lenders doing in-house collections, what would you tell them?

Don’t lose sight of the backend of the business from a revenue perspective. There is typically an intense focus on attracting new consumers to the product, and we start to forget about previous customers that still owe money on their account.

I would advise other managers in the collections space to think about building a digital line of defense, especially in preparation for a downturn or recession. When consumers are in a difficult situation, digital approaches can better connect with them and will lead to more dollars recovered.

Are you ready to invest in a sustainable digital infrastructure? Get in touch with our team today!

One True Holding Company writes to the CFPB

By on March 24th, 2020 in Company News

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is set to help shape massive changes to the debt collection industry. In an effort to continue our mission to protect consumers from predatory and aggressive collections experiences, the co-founder of TrueAccord, Ohad Samet, recently drafted a letter to the CFPB’s Director Kathleen Kraninger.

In the midst of major economic uncertainty, we understand that we must be compassionate when many consumers are struggling financially. Offering consumers in debt flexibility by supporting and expanding the industry’s digital infrastructure enables us to extend self-service options to those that need it most and limit their exposure to collections efforts that are intrusive and harassing. 

Some states are considering freezing collections efforts, but we continue to believe in consumers’ ability to manage their finances for themselves. Access to online portals and self-service payment plan adjustments can help them manage their overdue accounts at their own pace, even in times of financial instability. A complete suspension of their ability to pay, if and when they can afford it, can make matters worse.

Passing the NPRM into law can help to restructure collections to protect consumers today. 

You can read our letter to Director Kraninger below:

Our letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Dear Director Kraninger,

I am the CEO of One True Holding Company, a technology company providing business- and consumer-facing solutions in the debt collection space. Our subsidiary TrueAccord Corp. offers machine learning-based, digital- and mobile-first servicing for debt in collections and recoveries. Our subsidiary True Life Solutions offers consumers a SaaS platform that consumers can use to contact collectors and creditors digitally.

We service millions of consumers on a monthly basis, sending more than 18 million emails a month. As a technology startup at the forefront of debt collection efforts, we have both quantitative and qualitative views of the state of the economy and debt collection within it.

Times like these require swift action, and technology allows us to empower consumers while reacting to changing circumstances without having to re-train a large workforce. Since the crisis began, we have been able to seamlessly launch features allowing consumers to modify their payment plans on their own and set up longer and more flexible payment arrangements. We are launching tools for clients to offer automated digital relief programs. Consumers still interact often with the emails we send as they try to stay abreast of their finances and remain informed. 1

Our pandemic response page, offering tools and perspectives about finances in this time, sees more than 1,200 daily visits. Technology offers better service, a sense of empowerment and agency, and keeps our users informed through complicated circumstances. As a consumer-focused company, we carefully track our customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, and those have remained high (at 68.45% for the month of March). Consumers appreciate our approach, as these reviews also show:

Consumer review from 3/19/20 

You were patient. All emails were kind even from the beginning of my debt. You motivated me to repay my debts and monitor my credit. You appreciated me and I felt the extraordinary customer service from the day I first took the loan. I am grateful and even during this pandemic [emphasis added] I felt my loyalty to complete my payment of this loan over any other bill. Thank you again!

Consumer review from 3/18/20

Settled in a manner that facilitated affordable payments on a schedule that fit my life. I wish all collection agencies were this caring and flexable [sic]. Hopefully, I’ll never have another collections account, but if I do, I pray it’s with this agency.

As a single father making minimum wage, finding money to pay bills that aren’t crucial to keeping my kids healthy and happy is a real struggle, and my credit score had taken the hit in the past. I am really, truly grateful this is one acct that gets crossed off my list. Thanks!

I write today to ask the CFPB to accelerate its NPRM and swiftly push the industry to rely predominantly on digital communications for the purpose of debt collection. We need to continue to communicate with consumers through their channel of choice, in a non-intrusive manner, allowing them to easily manage their finances while controlling who they want to interact with. We need to continue to allow them to access their accounts and make adjustments to fit their personal circumstances.

Through this last week consumers have continued to set up customized payment plans on a daily basis, at a rate comparable to pre-tax season behavior. These are consumers acting on their own, responding to our low-frequency digital contact efforts. Finances aren’t one-size-fits-all, and a digitally native collection service supports this variety even in these trying times.

Thank you for your consideration and leadership in these trying times. We are eager to share as much data and qualitative observations as possible to support your policy-making and continue this conversation with a focus on consumer protection, choice, and experience

Citations

1. More than 20% open rate per each individual email broadcast as of 3/21, comparable with and exceeding eCommerce benchmarks

TrueAccord launches redesigned website

By on November 12th, 2019 in Company News

TrueAccord is redefining the collections experience. In order to grow as a company and continue to revolutionize the industry, we’ve redesigned our website to better reflect our dedication to a positive user experience!

Designing for the user

Being a leading modern debt collection solution means striving to provide a better experience for consumers in debt and creditors alike. The first step in this design process was revamping the website architecture to reflect our business growth, with industry and role-specific pages, as well as more details around our unique product and superior performance. 

Fig. 1: The new homepage (left) provides an immediate look into who we are, what we do, and (literally) illustrates our value propositions for everyone to see! 

If a user arrives on the site without any knowledge of AI or machine-learning, we still have to be able to explain what we’re capable of! This is why we’ve also included our awesome product showcase video below and directly on the homepage!

Designing for the future

We recognize that the collections industry is often cast in a negative light, and TrueAccord is here to create an empathy-driven collections experience. Right now, not everyone fully understands what that means. Having a platform for our brand’s voice and mission means we can more accurately and effectively reach creditors looking for a collections solution. 

With this improved website redesign, we can ensure that when a creditor is looking for a new collections strategy, they recognize that today’s customers expect a service that considers their experience. We know that the future is digital, and now we can share evidence of that with everyone! By proving that we’re worth listening to and making TrueAccord a collections authority, we will redefine the industry.

The impact of change

I had the chance to sit down and speak with Shannon Brown, TrueAccord’s Head of Design and lead designer on the website rebranding, and Vivian Chau, Senior Manager of Brand and Content Strategy, to discuss the intent behind the redesign, the power of future-proofing our strategy, and what’s next for TrueAccord’s image. 

How do you feel the new site will help us better serve our audiences?

Brown: The first thing, I think, is that we’re a digital-first, technology-driven company in an industry that isn’t always fluent in the language of technology.

Chau: Right, we knew that the website had to showcase what makes us a leading tech and customer-focused collections service, and the next step in drawing attention to that is having a website that helps potential clients learn about how collections fits into their revenue cycle management.

We still want to be able to showcase our modern collections approach and how we leverage machine-learning, but the heart of that is driven by customer empathy.

With dedicated sections on industry-specific information and more details highlighting our product performance, I’m excited to share and build upon TrueAccord’s new digital storefront.

Brown: We also worked closely with our sales and client services teams to understand questions our clients have and included a Solutions section to better address how TrueAccord can help businesses across different industries and roles. 

That leads to the next question, then: are there any features of the new site that you’re especially excited about?

Chau: Yes! I’m particularly excited to have our new website on a standalone Content Management System. Our content team will be able to add and optimize the website without having to ask for Engineering help which gives us a lot of flexibility. I see this project as a jumping off point for our marketing and brand initiatives, as our website, as should our brand, needs to continually evolve and change with the company as it grows. 

Brown: Speaking of growth: we’re working to attract top talent here, so I’m excited about our revamped careers page. It truly reflects the experience of working at TrueAccord and gives prospective employees more information about what it’s like here. Part of that TrueAccord experience is that we’re working to stand out in the industry.

Our new About Us section really highlights our commitment to empowering consumers and delivering great user experiences, and that our mission and company values tie everything together.

You both touched a bit on the impact that a clearly stated mission has on a company’s brand reputation. How did you go about the design process knowing with TrueAccord’s consumer-driven mission in mind?

Brown: We wanted to give consumers a space on the site. A lot of consumers receive an email from us and come to TrueAccord.com to see what we’re all about. The previous website spoke to our partners, but didn’t really give consumers information about how the TrueAccord experience can benefit them!

A big part of that was redirecting our focus to how our technology increases recovery rates and creates great consumer experiences instead of explaining the technology itself.

Chau: It was important too that we created something that was easy for everyone to understand. We still want to be able to showcase our modern collections approach and how we leverage machine-learning, but the heart of that is driven by customer empathy. The redesign articulates that and the hope is that it excites prospective clients and potential job candidates. 

TrueAccord is on a mission to change debt collection for good. With powerful tools in place, we continue to expand and grow and better showcase our product, highlight our performance, and demonstrate our values to clearly illustrate what sets us apart in the collections space.

Want to learn more about TrueAccord? Connect with our team!

TrueAccord Submits Debt Collection NPRM Comments

By on September 19th, 2019 in Company News, Compliance
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In an effort to further improve the debt collection experience for consumers, TrueAccord filed comments in response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Notice of Proposed Debt Collection Rulemaking. Our experience using mostly email to communicate with consumers about their debts gives us the unique ability to provide detailed feedback to the CFPB on the parts of the Proposed Rule that impacts the use of email, data science, and machine learning in debt collection. 

We know that consumers in debt collection benefit from both email communications and machine learning technologies. Email communications allow consumers to access content at their convenience (including emails that contain legally required disclosures); new machine learning technologies provide additional information and payment options based on the consumer’s interactions to further personalize their collections experience.

What are we suggesting?

Make the transition into collections communication simpler

When emailing a consumer, either an initial communication—one containing the validation notice in the body—or any communication relating to the debt, a debt collector should be able to contact that consumer at the email address that the consumer provided to the creditor. 

The proposed rules do not currently provide this option without causing an undue burden on consumers. TrueAccord highlighted that unnecessary restrictions in the proposal greatly limit the ability to communicate with consumers via email. Consumers who have already provided their preference for electronic communications to their creditor(s) would be forced to take extra steps because they have fallen into collection. 

Define and properly evaluate email as a unique medium

Our customers regularly tell us that email is very different from phone calls and even paper mail. As such, email communications warrant different treatment under the FDCPA and should not be subject to the standard time, place, and manner restrictions that were designed for and apply to primarily oral communications.

TrueAccord asked the Bureau to take this opportunity to further modernize the FDCPA by distinguishing that certain provisions do not apply to email. 

Recognize other, optional forms of electronic communications as legitimate

We raise concerns over the proposed definition of “attempted communication” and “limited content message.” The current proposed definitions have the unintended consequence of limiting digital advertising and other electronic messages that consumers can opt-in to receive. 

What is our goal?

TrueAccord’s suggested changes will increase the proposed rule’s ability to make collections more efficient, provide actual notice to consumers, give consumers immediate access to information, and enable consumers to control how they want to communicate.

The debt collection proposed rulemaking is an opportunity to empower the vast majority of consumers who prefer to communicate electronically. The Bureau must take advantage of this opportunity.

You can read TrueAccord’s full comments here.

TrueAccord wins a Healthy Mothers Workplace Award

By on December 10th, 2018 in Company News
TrueAccord Blog

We’re happy to say we won a Silver Award in the Healthy Mother Workplace Awards by Legal Aid At Work.

Our Senior Director of HR, Laurina Phillip Muglia, had the following to say: “People live in the real world. They have families, bills, commutes and a finite amount of time each day. We recognize that our people need the flexibility to balance their priorities in different ways at different times. Having that flexibility is foundational to our success, it creates kind of a background vibe that with all the pressures of a startup, we don’t have to fret about having time for our families.”

We appreciate the recognition, and will continue working to improve our work environment (including our lactation room) to support parents.

TrueAccord Names Barclays Bank Industry Executive To COO; Hires Kelly Knepper-Stephens as VP of Legal; Promoted Lapis Kim

By on November 28th, 2018 in Company News
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San Francisco, CALIFORNIA – (November 28, 2018) – TrueAccord (www.trueaccord.com), the first-of-its-kind tech platform that transforms the antiquated debt recovery industry, announced today that financial industry veteran Sheila Monroe has been named Chief Operating Officer. Monroe joins TrueAccord from Barclays and brings more than 30 years of financial services and collections experience to the leading fintech debt recovery company. The company also announced the appointment of collections law specialist, Kelly Knepper-Stephens as Vice President of Legal and the promotion of Lapis Kim as Vice President of Finance and Analytics.

Monroe, Knepper and Kim join TrueAccord’s growing diverse C-Suite and strong female leadership team.  Monroe will take over day-to-day key operating processes and manage many of the company’s key internal functions, including: critical financial institution client relations and onboarding, call center operations and strategic planning. At Barclays, Monroe was Managing Director of Group Operations where she established the operations strategy and technology roadmap for Barclays Collection and Recoveries Operations worldwide. Most recently, she was the COO of Simplicity Payments LLC and helped the healthcare financial service startup develop operational capability to move from pilot phase to product launch.

“Sheila brings Fortune 100, top bank industry experience to TrueAccord and will play a critical role in driving our next growth phase as she takes over daily operations,” said Ohad Samet, chief executive officer, TrueAccord. “Her extensive financial and recoveries pedigree at one of the largest banks in the world, coupled with her demonstrated ability to effectively navigate sensitive regulatory environments will lead TrueAccord in continued growth and impeccable execution.”

Kelly Knepper-Stephens joins TrueAccord from Stoneleigh Recovery Associates, where she specialized in local debt collection regulations. This year, Kelly was named one of Collection Advisor’s “20 Most Powerful Women in Collections” and was also listed as one of the “25 Most Influential Women in Collections” in 2016.

TrueAccord has also promoted Lapis Kim, who serves as Vice President of Finance and Analytics. Having led and built high-performance finance and analytics teams, as well as taken over key financial and strategic planning processes for the company, Lapis is now taking a seat at the table as part of the company’s executive leadership team.

“TrueAccord is an innovative company that is using technology to transform an incredibly antiquated industry,” said Monroe. “The debt collection marketplace is in desperate need of modernization and I’m excited by the opportunity to be a part of, and advance the company’s mission of reinventing the space.”

The company now counts 5 female executives of its executive leadership team, including 2 in the C-suite.

Founded in 2013, TrueAccord is a fully automated debt recovery technology that bridges the gap between the creditor and the roughly 77 million Americans who currently have debt in collections. The system uses behavioral analytics, machine learning, and a humanistic approach – the first time the antiquated (and often menacing) debt collection system has been challenged in decades. Over 25 percent of consumers contacted by debt collectors feel threatened. The TrueAccord platform was built with the goal of disrupting debt collection with AI, transparency, and most importantly – compassion.