Obtaining Consent In Digital Debt Collection

By on December 13th, 2017 in Compliance, Debt Collection, Industry Insights

There are few industries left that are as ripe for disruption as the collections industry is right now. In the case of collections, the old adage of “if ain’t broke don’t fix it” has guided the process for collection agencies for the better part of 40 years. Collectors knew that they could reliably collect on past due accounts by simply sending a letter or two and calling debtors repeatedly until they made contact and then convincing the debtor to pay off the account. Creditors built their customer contracts knowing that the collections model of phone and letter outreach was well established. Today, things are changing and they’re changing fast. Nearly 77% of American consumers own a smartphone. Naturally, consumer preferences on how they want to be communicated with have evolved, and at TrueAccord we’re working hard to stay on top of this trend, while maintaining the highest standard of compliance, and pushing the industry to catch up to the times.

The collections practices set out by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) were designed primarily to protect consumers from abusive contact by collectors in person, by phone, and by letter, but gave little thought to new technologies or how they would be used by consumers. It was only last year that the new proposed rules on debt collection were announced by the CFPB referencing new digital communications methods. This announcement has been creating waves for both creditors and debt collectors and now is the time to start thinking about consumer communications preferences and how to leverage new communications tools to contact your customers, even in collections.

The legal standards for how to obtain consent to contact a debtor is outlined in regulations and in basic agency law. In almost all cases consent to contact a consumer transfers to an agency. Most creditors have added to their contracts provisions allowing for consumer contact by mail and phone with some forward thinking creditors including consent language for the creditor to service the account using email or even better, digital communication channels. However, not many contracts underlying a debt that gets placed in collections anticipated a collector wanting to contact a debtor by email or text message.  With new rules coming, now is the time to anticipate this change and create broad consents that incorporate digital channels that currently exist, and that may be created. An example of a broad consent in a contract might look like:

“If we need to contact you to service your account or to collect amounts you owe, you authorize us (and our affiliates, agents, contractors and third party servicers) to contact you at any number you provide, from which you call us, or at which we believe we can reach you, at any email address you provide to us or at which we believe we can reach you, or through any social media or other digital communications platform you may use. We may contact by calling or texting. We may contact you using an automated dialer or prerecorded messages. We may contact you on a mobile, wireless or similar device, even if you are charged for it.”

This clause incorporates phone, email, text, social media, and leaves the door open for new technology like push notices.  Even though there is some uncertainty around the ability to contact consumers using all of these new channels it’s important to think ahead for when the laws catch up to consumer preferences. It’s not uncommon for a consumer to reach out to TrueAccord and ask for us to text them account details and we wouldn’t be surprised if a consumer asked us to contact them using other messaging apps like Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger. With the consent language above a collector could respond to consumer demand and use these channels to contact a consumer in the way they want to be reached. Respecting consumer preferences will open the door to more successful collections opportunities benefiting consumers, collectors, and creditors.

My First Month On The TrueAccord Engineering Team

By on December 4th, 2017 in Culture, Engineering and Data, Industry Insights

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I started at TrueAccord. About eleven months ago, my husband and I moved to Bay Area from Australia. It took us a few months to settle down with two young kids, a 5 years old girl and a 18-month-old boy. Three months ago I decided to look for a job as my final step of settling down. As you can imagine, reaching out for a good job opportunity has never been easy. So when my friend who happened to work at next door of our San Jose office told me TrueAccord is hiring an engineer, I immediately applied it and got an offer after a few interviews.

Settling in a new job is not easy and it takes time and effort to process a ton of new information. I received a warm welcome and plenty of help from everybody. Through a short but informative onboarding process, I got to know the people with different backgrounds and perspectives and felt their energy and enthusiasm about the industry. With their help and support, I feel comfortable and ready for the challenges yet to come. The fact that the company is committed to maintaining a diverse workforce and ensuring an inclusive work environment is very attractive. I am really excited to join a multicultural environment like this.

My onboarding journey started with an orientation in our headquarters at San Francisco. I was introduced to the various teams I’d be working with, (engineering, data science, analytics, product)  and got to know them, what projects they were working on and the collaboration among them. I was so impressed with how well structured and organized TrueAccord is a startup company, where you can see well-established collaborations between teams, clearly defined procedures to help saving time and resources. Now, I was ready to start in our San Jose office, where the engineering team is based, and officially became a member of this innovative and collaborative team.

My first task was to set up my development environment, which was more challenging than I thought it would be. It took some time to get everything up and running. It was not the smoothest setup I experienced but it was a great opportunity for me to learn and understand our tech stack and development environment. It was also a great opportunity to see how supportive my team was in helping me get through this somewhat frustrating process, they jumped in to troubleshoot so I could get up and running quickly.

Setting up the workstation was just the start of the bigger journey. There was so much information I need to absorb to do my job. Coming from a Java background, the first thing I had to tackle was learning Scala since our main backend system depends on it. In addition to that, there are so many related technologies I needed to get my hand on. Again, my team was there to make sure I succeed, especially my manager, who make a great plan for me to help me navigate the process. Great discussions happened every week about our system and tech stack between myself and my teammates, which allowed me to jump in and start on some real tasks.

It has been a great month. There were challenges, frustrations, and excitements. I feel lucky that TrueAccord offered me my first job in the US. I am so thankful to everyone that helped me in this great journey. With such a great start, I believe I’m on the right track of fast and effective ramping, and I look forward to contributing more to our project.

I’m Excited to Join the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board

By on November 28th, 2017 in Company News, Debt Collection, Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

I’m very honored to have been appointed to the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board. With this appointment, the CFPB is sending a strong message about how it views technology’s role in shaping the future of consumer finance in general, and debt collection in particular. I’m proud to be able to represent the industry’s point of view while making sure we usher in a new era of great user experience and technology innovation. Even with Director Cordray’s planned departure, the CFPB remains a strong and active regulator. While some of the weight is likely to move to State level examinations, keeping in touch with Federal regulators remains a top priority as a way to contribute to consumer protection broadly, and to support TrueAccord’s long-term mission.

Anyone can apply to be a CAB member through the CFPB’s site. I applied and was appointed earlier this year. I did so because at TrueAccord we believe in the Bureau’s mission – protecting consumers – and also that engaging with your regulator is the smart thing to do. I was humbled and excited to be sworn in, because there is still so much in financial services in the US that can be improved, and innovation to be encouraged. I truly believe in the role of the CAB in informing the CFPB on important trends and how to support consumer protection and choice. I am lucky to be serving alongside academics such as Prof. Lisa Servon, consumer advocates such as Chi Chi Wu from the NCLC, and industry leaders such as Max Levchin. It’s a broad set of experiences and opinions that foster great discussions and set us up for the challenges in front of us.

The CAB looks at financial services in general, but my I cannot disregard my own backyard. In tricky, regulated markets like debt collection, with its active rulemaking process, it is even more important to take part in crafting fair and forward-looking rules that protect consumers. Any work I can do to ensure innovation can finally reach the debt collection market is a net positive for consumers and the industry.

The meeting span three full days in Tampa, Florida, and culminated in a public session with comments about the new PayDay rule. Bureau staff kept a tight schedule presenting latest developments in regulation, consumer education initiatives, and for first time members – an intro to the Bureau and its divisions. During the third day, I was also asked to give a 45-minute presentation on trends in the debt collection market. I used it to discuss the transformative role technology has in making the debt collection process customer-centric and digital first, creating better experiences with less friction and stress for consumers.

 

All in all, my first meeting was an incredibly positive experience. Staff turned out to be a diverse group of intelligent and thoughtful people, and the (now ex-)director a highly engaged and knowledgeable person. CAB members bring impressive backgrounds and facilitate an effective discussion, especially when they disagree. I am already looking forward to our next meeting, and reviewing developments we’ll see until then. I personally expect the debt collection rule to be one of them, though Bureau staff gave no formal guidance on this matter.

TrueAccord Closes $22M Series B

By on November 14th, 2017 in Company News, Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

Debt Collections Technology Company Builds on Early Success for Sustained Growth and Innovation

November 14, San Francisco, CA – TrueAccord, the company driving transformation in the debt collection market, announced today that is has closed $22M in additional funding.  Arbor Ventures led the round, with participation from existing and new investors, Nyca Investment Partnership, Assurant Growth Investing, Caffeinated Capital Fund, Felicis Venture, TenOneTen and Crystal Towers. The Series B funding follows a period of sustained and rapid growth for TrueAccord which is providing exceptional customer experience for consumers in debt for nationally recognized financial institutions, debt buyers, lenders, and technology companies increase their recovery rates.

This additional investment will fund TrueAccord’s strategic growth initiatives, including ongoing product development and innovation of its customer-focused platform, providing world-class audit and compliance functionality, continued expansion into vertical markets, client acquisition and retention, and hiring.

“TrueAccord is redefining the debt collections industry through a digital approach for debt recovery. It is achieving higher customer engagement, satisfaction, and recovery rates through its data-driven platform, which tailors the collection process to individual consumer preferences,” said Melissa Guzy, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Arbor Ventures. “This unique approach is making a positive impact on an overlooked industry, ripe for innovation, impacting a major societal issue by empowering many of the estimated 77 million people in debt, to get on a path to better financial health.”

Since closing its Series A round in 2015, TrueAccord has reached a number of significant milestones, including:

  • Customer Expansion: Between 2016 and 2017, TrueAccord grew the accounts it collects by 2.5x with more than 2.0 million customers on its platform since inception.
  • Strong ROI: TrueAccord has demonstrated exceptional recovery results beating traditional agencies’ debt collection rates by a minimum of 50% to upwards of 500%.
  • Client Acquisition: TrueAccord’s clients include top 10 issuers, leading creditors, and technology companies such as Yelp! and LendUp with more than $1.5 billion of debt flowing through the platform since 2014.

“It was the personal experience of dealing with a debt collector that made me realize the traditional collections industry was ripe for disruption with technology innovation and a more human approach,” said Ohad Samet, Chief Executive Officer of TrueAccord. “With changing consumer preferences, strong regulatory support for innovation, and clients who understand a customer-focus collection process is good for their business, we’re experiencing tremendous demand from the market. We are seizing this opportunity to use machine learning to humanize debt collection for good.”

About Arbor Ventures

Arbor Ventures is a global early-stage venture capital firm focused on shaping the way the world transacts by investing in early-stage companies at the intersection of financial services, big data, and digital commerce, through partnering with extraordinary founders, and accelerating the growth of next gen FinTech, facilitated by unparalleled strategic networks.

About TrueAccord

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. True Accord’s platform is powered by machine learning with a decision engine that analyzes consumer behavior and delivers personalized experiences by communicating with consumers 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, visit TrueAccord.

 

Press Inquiries:

Sandy Pfaff, Pfaff PR

sandy@pfaffpr.com

415-819-7447

The Voice of the Consumer: Motivation to Pay Off the Debt

By on October 31st, 2017 in Debt Collection, Industry Insights, User Experience

Today, data science and analytics are empowering organizations to analyze user behavior and create better user experiences that drive success.  Big data and scale are top of mind as companies compete for market share and aim to deliver the best user experience possible. While powerful tools and testing can tell us a lot about what users want and how they interact with applications, features, and content, neither tells the whole story. It is still important to talk to your users in a traditional sense, by picking up the phone and having a conversation to understand how they feel and ask questions that data cannot fully answer. 

At TrueAccord we touch millions of consumers by empowering them to pay off their debt and reach financial health through a personalized, digital, self-managed process.  We are providing a powerful platform that is connecting our customers and consumers in debt during a sensitive process.  We are constantly testing and improving our product for better engagement and conversion, but when it comes to questions like, “how does it feel to be in this situation?” or “did you experience collections with other agencies? If yes, what was the process like and how did it make you feel?”, the only way to get valuable feedback is to have a conversation with consumers.  Their answers help us form an understanding of our users’ needs and shape more quantitative research. We want to understand how our users think and feel so we can better serve them. 

Meet a few of the consumers that have recently used TrueAccord for their debt repayment process:

Stacy: from suspicion to delight

Tell me a bit about yourself.

Stacy is a 29-year-old, married woman with one child and works in the medical field.

Do you remember when you received your first TrueAccord Email?

I was surprised to get an email, it wasn’t the usual process that I had experienced with other collections agencies.  So at first I ignored them and didn’t open them, but when I finally opened and read it, and did a little research on the company, I realized how easy this was going to be.  I could see my total balance, pick a payment plan and do everything online. It was so refreshing to have an easy and friendly process.  I love that it was digital, that’s what I’m used to with other services, and it really made it stress-free to manage the process myself and not to have to talk to anyone.

Have you ever dealt with traditional agencies?

Yes, I had previous debt, I got letters in the mail, so I called in good faith, I know I owed the money and wanted to pay it off, and they made everything so difficult and were incredibly unprofessional.  I wasted more than 30 minutes of my time talking to them, it was so frustrating.  

What can we do better?

It would be great to have some tools and content to learn how to manage my credit and budget. Sometimes when you’re in debt you may not know where to start and then it’s easy to just ignore the problem.  There are a lot of tools out there, it’s just making it top of mind is important.

Josh: sometimes all you need is a reminder

Tell me a bit about yourself.

Josh is 27 years old, engaged, lives in Colorado Springs, has a 4-year degree and works in digital marketing.

Can you tell me a bit about the situation you were in?

It was a dispute with a ticket reseller, and I was going back and forth with them regarding the issue, but it was taking a while and getting frustrating.  It was an honest mistake on my part that just turned out to be expensive. Then all of a sudden, I received an email from TrueAccord.

What did it feel like to receive the first TrueAccord email?

Honestly, I was surprised that they sent me to collections so fast, but I liked the fact that I could take care of it online, it felt more professional and user-friendly.  I paid it off right away, I didn’t want to have it impact my credit in a negative way.  

Have you dealt with other collections agencies, what was the process like?

I had medical debt previously that I had to deal with, it was a very frustrating process, they called me all the time, sent letters, called my employer, it felt like there ware no limits on what they could do. I needed someone to work with me and help me through the process.  

What was your experience with TrueAccord?

I was very impressed with TrueAccord, it was so easy to use, everything was digital and the communications were professional.  I could see my account overview, decide how and when to pay and do everything online. Getting a phone call in this age is so outdated, and easy to ignore.  The fact that I could do it online motivated me to pay faster.

Do you have any feedback for us?

Continue to do what you’re doing, keep it easy and digital, adding humans to the process adds an embarrassing element and frustration, it just adds emotion that is not helpful during this process.  People respond to being treated well and respected and given options that are on their terms.

What about learning more about how to manage debt?

I think when you’re younger you need to understand more about credit, if not managed well it can negatively impact your finances, so having more information on the site would be a great opportunity to help educate people.  

Vera: a positive process in hard times

Tell me a bit about yourself.

Vera is 30 years old, single, lives in Flower Mound, Texas, and works in digital advertising.

Tell me a bit more about the debt?

It was a payday loan, and I hit a rough time and couldn’t make the payments.  I’ve had other times where I was in debt, it’s not a great feeling, it hangs over you.

Did the original creditor try to collect from you?

They did, it wasn’t easy, they called me and I ignored the calls, in order to pay I had to call them, and I just didn’t feel like it.  

What happened when you were contacted by TrueAccord?

When I received my first email from TrueAccord, I began paying within a week.  The fact that it was digital had a lot to do with it, the process was positive, easy and I was ready to pay and put the debt behind me. Not having to talk to someone makes it a better experience. I use a lot of other apps, it’s just what I expect these days.

Have you used other resources for learning about debt or managing finances?

I use several apps: Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, WalletHub, I also like the Reddit forums, there is a lot of information about debt out there, and it’s easy to talk to strangers online where you’re anonymous.  For me, debt is a private issue so it’s not something I would widely talk about, just with close friends and family.

Richard: ease of use made the difference

Tell me a bit about yourself.

Richard, 35 years old, single, lives in Seattle and works in technology

Do you remember getting your first TrueAccord email?

I got an email and I paid my debt within the week.  It’s not a great feeling to be in debt, no matter how small the amount is.  

What was your experience with other agencies?

The process is always so time-consuming and difficult, they always call or just sent letters in the mail, these days that is not an experience I want to deal with.

How was your experience with TrueAccord?

TrueAccord was spectacular, I could just sit in front of my computer and take care of it.

Do you have any feedback for us?

Continue to work with people, help them if they need it.  Giving them the ability to do things online is easy to manage and convenient.  I think having options is helpful, choosing payment plan vs paying it off in a lump sum, flexibility is so important.

This is the first time I have ever had a call from an agency after having debt, it feels great to be asked for feedback.  Shows you genuinely care about what you’re doing and the people you work with.

What other financial services do you use or like?

I use Mint, Credit Karma, and my bank’s financial management tools.  I know how to manage my debt, but sometimes you can still get into trouble.  The are also a lot of blogs out there, so the content is there, but sharing with people during this time might be a good way to help them, people don’t always want to talk about this issue, or have someone to talk to.

Our users have strong opinions

From these conversations, it’s clear how much digital, self-managed experiences drive a more positive, trusted, and easy interaction for both sides.  How we feel has a lot to do with how we act, and by empowering consumers to make their own decisions and giving them the control and flexibility they want, we see they are more motivated to engage and pay.  Continuing the conversation, testing, and data analysis are at the forefront of what we do.   We are going to continue to bring great user experiences and new features to improve and enhance the TrueAccord experience to help consumers reach financial health.  

 

Consumer in Crisis: What To Do When Disaster Strikes

By on October 24th, 2017 in Company News, Culture, Debt Collection, Industry Insights, User Experience

Hurricanes, wildfires, floods. We’ve certainly seen our fair share of natural disasters in the past few months. Sometimes, disasters are more personal such as losing a job, losing a loved one or facing an unexpected medical condition. When these crises happen, financial institutions and debt collectors want to do whatever they can to ease the burden, if only for a short time. The key? Communicating early, communicating often, and asking for relief whenever it is available.

It may be hard to imagine that our bank or lender cares about our circumstances. That is often not true. Financial institutions work within communities and understand the need to support them. That’s true for debt collection as well.

The premise we work with is that people want to pay their debt, they just need the right tools. They also need to be treated like people which is why we offer personalized approaches to each customers’ unique situation.

When paying debt is not possible, it’s in everyone’s interest to find other solutions. At TrueAccord, many clients proactively ask us to stop collecting in crisis-struck areas, and we often do so ourselves. Hardship programs allow us to provide longer and even more flexible payment plans, delay collection attempts and sometimes pause collection efforts for a long period of time.

Many consumers don’t hear about these options – or even consider that there may be another solution available to them – because they choose to disengage with financial institutions and debt collectors. This can make a bad situation worse. We, and your bank, may not be aware of your situation. We understand that calling us may be the last thing on your mind. That’s why you can email us, and in some cases text or write to us on social media. Reaching out will allow you to get in front of the situation early. For your financial institution, it will help them support you sooner and more effectively.

If you are in a crisis, talk to your bank, talk to TrueAccord, and explore your options. While we may not be able to solve every problem, we’re here to help as much as we can.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.