Client Success works with our clients big and small to on-board them, tune collection performance, exchange data and find opportunities to experiment. In this short podcast, our Senior Director of Client Success, Pej Azarm, talks to our CEO about his function and how it works with clients.
In recent years and since the spreading of EMV, online fraud has surged. Merchants have been struggling due to the increasing number of chargebacks from consumers. Some merchants even add the costs associated with chargebacks to the price of commodities and services, just to be safe. Other merchants resort to sending chargebacks to collections to help them recover what’s rightfully theirs. They do all this all in a bid to maintain and improve their bottom line as a business, since as much as 1-5% of revenue can be lost to fraud.
When merchants resort to Sending Chargebacks to Collections, they delegate the task of obtaining payment in relation to outstanding debt to the agency. As per the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act of 1977, merchants have every right to engage in debt collection but of course under a regulatory framework. They may not be able to charge the specific card they got a chargeback for, but the consumer’s obligation still stands. Therefore, it’s important to choose reputable agencies that uphold the rule of law and legislations governing the practice.
In the process of working on chargebacks, debt collectors go beyond chargeback representment, which is the process of disputing the debt with your acquiring bank. Representation involves looking for solid proof validating the original payment. When merchants can prove this, they void the consumer’s transaction dispute and initiate the process of returning the funds to the merchant. Debt collectors can be engaged both after and at the same time as the representation process, since the obligation stands regardless of the credit card payment.
So in this regard, what should a merchant need to do before Sending Chargebacks to Collections?
- Analyze the Grounds for Filing the Chargeback
It is prudent to analyze the grounds in which the consumer is filing the chargeback. At times, consumers may have been charged wrongly due to billing errors on your side. You may not realize this until you follow through with the claim. They may also have a genuine case whereby they did not authorize the purchase; it may be a case of identity theft or a stolen card. You wouldn’t want to damage your reputation by Sending Chargebacks to Collections that were wrongly acquired and go to great lengths trying to justify it. And besides that, you ought to give the consumer audience-at least even the basic rules of justice allow this. The customer may also have a valid service issue that caused them to reneg on their payment, and that is something you’d like to know before pursuing the chargeback.
Doing an in-depth analysis of these grounds would let you determine whether to send the case to collections based on the claims of the consumer.
- Consider Timing and Validity
Timing matters a lot in the process of executing debt collection and chargeback representments. This is due to the complexity of the process and the implications. As a merchant, you would have to analyze the end-results first to determine whether you are in a position to bear them. We say this because we know your business comes first. Whatever action you pursue should always have a positive implication on your business.
Picture these two scenarios; you are having cash flow problems and are realizing meager profits. This means that you need customers to pay up hence justification for an aggressive approach to debt collection.
On the other hand, you feel that the heat of your aggressive approach would scare away customers who only needed a slap on the wrist. This means that you be lax and laidback without using debt collection; meaning revenue loss to your business.
What would you do? Well, discretion and diligence would be your best buddies. Determine which route would be appropriate and advantageous at the point in time. The best course of action would be one which won’t damage your reputation as a merchant and your business, while at the same time, that which won’t let you suffer massive revenue loss.
Many merchants stay away from debt collection for chargebacks until losses reach a certain threshold, then apply aggressive means right off the bat. Neither extreme approach is healthy. Engaging a debt collection partner that supports your brand while actively pursuing chargebacks in a controlled manner (rather than an aggressive one) will allow you to maximize returns and protect your business at the same time.
- Reach Out to Try and Resolve the Dispute In Good Faith Before Sending Chargebacks to Collections
It pays to always seek an audience with the consumer and the card company first before initiating a long and expensive legal process. Possibly, the consumer may have given you wrong measurements or may have erred in their order quantities, leading to a service dispute. The consumer may make you understand this more clearly when you have reached out to them or by you accepting their invitation to work something out.
However, when there are valid grounds to send the chargeback to collections, then ensure that you have asked the consumer to rescind the chargeback by reaching out to them. Table your evidence to the card company. Cite your reasons and give them room to respond with their own. When your consumer agrees to rescind the chargeback, well and good. If they don’t, then at let them know that you will be sending the chargeback to collections since you have valid reasons that the charge was correctly administered.
Indeed, it is high time that merchants understood their rights. They should not be victimized by unfounded claims and unwarranted chargebacks. As a merchant, you should consider these three aspects before you send chargebacks to collections for a better outcome. Ensure that you take into consideration pertinent issues revolving around your business reputation and profitability before engaging collection agencies.
Next week, InsideARM’s executives Amy Perkins and Stephanie Eidelman will host the first annual Women in Consumer Finance Conference 2018 in Baltimore, MD. Women in Consumer Finance 2018 is for professional women working in consumer finance at ALL levels. As part of the packed 1.5 day agenda, you’ll hear from two TrueAccord executives about their experiences as women in business.
Our Director of PMO, Antonia Wong, will speak on the Just Freaking Own it Already panel, discussing how even the most confident women have moments of doubt and bouts of Impostor Syndrome. Our VP of Legal, Kelly Kneppers-Stephens, will share her professional journey and the lessons she’s learned along the way, including how being vocal in a regulatory body meeting got her both a request not to talk so much and a job offer from TrueAccord.
We have been incredibly fortunate at TrueAccord to have strong representation and leadership at all levels from entry to C-level and board members. Come learn from their experiences. If you are interested in attending and hearing from women working in consumer finance, you can register here.
All business operate with some form of debt. However, for the business to be kept afloat, one has to ensure that proper payment is made for products or services rendered in due time. But the downside is that some customers are not reliable and as honest as you may think. Also, errors occur in the course of business, leading to undercharging, overcharging or wrongful charging. As a business owner, you understand all these, but one thing is always a miss – time. Debt Collection for Chargebacks can help.
You cannot attend to the core functions of your business and at the same time keep tabs with debtors. In recent time, chargebacks have been a headache to most merchants. This is true especially with regard to chargebacks which are not genuine, the result of friendly fraud or buyer’s remorse. Many merchants have resorted to using debt collection agencies especially when the chargeback is unfounded or is as a result of consumer whims.
Well, debt collection for chargebacks could be the best decision that you have ever made. It leaves you ample time to focus on other productive activities that develop your business. Let’s consider some vital points on how debt collection for chargebacks is useful in the long run.
Merchants have the due backing in law to engage in debt collection on chargebacks, even ones where disputes failed. So, as a merchant, you have no cause for worry when you send chargebacks to debt collections, as long as you choose the right partner. These agencies have a firm grasp of the law governing the debt collection industry. They also have an excellent grounding on the consumer acts (such as the FDCPA, TCPA, FCRA, etc.); thus they are in a better position to engage consumers. In the long run, you end up eliminating the risk that is associated with debt collection on your own. It can get litigious quite fast.
As earlier mentioned, as a merchant, your business has limited time against unlimited wants. You can’t address each and every issue that comes your way. It then makes sense to outsource some functions such as debt collection for chargebacks. Debt collection agencies have custom programs that are tailor-made to suit each business owner, and charge less than it would cost to hire an in-house A/R specialist for most busiensses. They are flexible as they are the ones who would fit into your business model as opposed to the converse.
Fast Payments and Asset Recovery through Debt Collection for Chargebacks
At times, the mere mention of sending a chargeback to collections pushes consumers to act. This is true especially when they know their chargeback was filed on flimsy grounds. They know that they will be chased down and they will have to pay up eventually. They may opt to settle the debt altogether instead of enduring a debt collection process, even if a pleasant one. When your consumers know that you enlist debt collection services as a means of debt recovery, they will always strive to settle their bills on time, and more often. You will get to focus on other important things such as developing your business.
Debt Collection for Chargebacks is a Form of Customer Service
Not all debt that a business accrues is rightfully theirs. Chargebacks could be as a result of errors. Rationally, a consumer is not obligated to pay up just because an invoice is sent to them. An invoice can have errors, and sometimes chargebacks or simple non-payment are inevitable when they see these errors. When you engage a debt collection agency, they’ll have to verify and validate the chargeback in order to swing into action. When they establish that the error was on your side, they will drop the claim and protect your brand and perception by consumers.
In a way, this could be a form of customer service. In essence, you are actually telling the customer that you are one who verifies claims to establish their validity. You are telling them that you are professional and that you want to retain the goodwill that you have with them. This is even enhanced when the debt collection agency is one that approaches matters in a communicative and objective manner. Therefore, debt collection isn’t about threats and negativity.
Sending chargebacks to collections is not only a viable option but also a cost-effective one. For most of the debt collection agencies, payment is typically pegged on a relatively small fee and commissions on the total amount recovered. This makes them a cost-effective option. And what’s more? They know their stuff, and you are guaranteed to recover all those wrongful chargebacks.
With the above points being highlighted, we understand that chargebacks are a common feature in these hard economic times. However, as a merchant, you shouldn’t be victimized for unfounded reasons. Debt collections for chargebacks should increase your debt recovery efforts. Use it today as one of your debt recovery strategies, and you are sure of reaping immense benefits.
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.
Chargebacks are a form of transaction reversal that serves to protect customers and merchants from fraud committed by either party in a transaction. It is common in situations where a cardholder wants a refund on an item previously and wrongfully purchased from a merchant. It also applies in instances where a cardholder was charged for items that they never received or in cases where due to technical hitches, a mistaken charge was imposed on them.
Primarily, a chargeback serves to ensure that the funds of a cardholder are safe no matter what. While it may present a good ground for cardholders to get refunds of their cash, sometimes, it can be abused; in some cases, chargebacks as a result of buyer remorse or other types of abuses reach 40% of chargeback volume. It can spell doom to the merchant when consumers misuse this provision.
Financially, it affects the bottom line of merchants, sometimes up to 1-5% of revenue. When the customer cannot or won’t pay up, or resorts to wrongful chargebacks, it makes their financial situation worse.
Merchants are aware of the imminent risk of a chargeback when a customer is not satisfied with a good or service; thus, they go out of their way to ensure that the best is delivered to the customer, that service is impeccable, and that there are no billing errors.
As a merchant, you are going to deal with many chargebacks in the course of trading. If you are engaging in genuine business, then it comes as an imperative to guard against unnecessary chargebacks. You cannot stop people from filing chargebacks, but you can fight illegitimate chargebacks, the result of buyer remorse or abuse. Determine which issues are raising these chargebacks and address them. Always ask for the direct signature of the cardholder or employ a fraud prevention service if you deal with expensive items. Only allow consumers to ship to their billing addresses. In these ways, you can safeguard against unnecessary chargebacks from dishonest consumers.
Finally, if you are faced with chargebacks and cannot have them insured by a fraud prevention service, or represented back with your bank, sending chargebacks to collection agencies may be a great way to get paid. But what are the pros and cons of doing so?
Improved Asset Recovery
Consumers may file a chargeback but keep the product. Sending it to collections may enhance the process of recovering all these assets from such clients, both product and payment. Collection agencies are good at what they do and can handle the task of asset recovery better than you. Their chances of recovering lost funds are better than yours, both because of their broad experience and the fact that they are, at the end of the day, a collection agency. The mere thought of being contacted by a debt collection company often drives consumers to make good on their obligations.
Guards against Chargeback Transaction Fees
When a chargeback is filed, the card company immediately charges some fees relating to processing the chargeback. The fee ranges from $20 to $150 per transaction. Even when a consumer cancels the chargeback, these fees will still have to be paid. When you have a genuine case of buyer fraud, sending the chargeback to collections may help you overturn the tables and recoup the fee in addition to the chargeback, based on the terms of service the consumer agreed to on your website.
It Deters Crafty Consumers
Some consumers are just out there to get freebies. Some can be problematic. Some pay when they want to. Entertaining such can weigh you down as a business. Sending those consumers to collections may deter them from filing illegitimate chargebacks in the future, and send a clear message to future abusers. They will know better than to practice their devious ways on your business. Doing so with the right debt collections partners will get you deterrence while protecting your brand.
Enables You to Focus on Developing your Business
Instead of focusing on your energies fighting off chargebacks or building internal teams to deal with the minutiae of accounts receivables, sending them to collections relieves you the hustle. It allows you to maintain focus on things that are essential to your business. You can focus on giving exceptional customer service to your loyal customers.
It’s an Added Cost to Your Business
Using collections is an added cost to your business. Most collection agencies charge fees from recovered funds, with some base fee to start using their service. Fees can be as high as 40% of dollars recovered, from money that you thought was already in your pocket. While this may seem high, consider this: 40% of $0 is still $0. Other than a low monthly fee, you’d be paying out of dolalrs the agency recovers for you. If you hire a full time accounts receivables clerk, that person would be paid monthly no matter what they collect.
May Dampen Customer Relationships
Collection agencies may use not-so-friendly approaches to debt collection. Some consumers may suffer emotionally, and that may mark the end of your relationship with that customer. That is why it’s important to choose the right collections partner. Go for experts that focus on UX, high NPS, and great customer reviews on Google and the BBB. There is a wide selection of collection partners and you shouldn’t settle for one that hurts your brand or doesn’t get your business.
The above consideration highlights just some of the pros and cons associated with sending chargebacks to collections. Do you have more information on the pros and cons of sending chargebacks to collections? Please share with us below.
What can debt collection for startups do for your business? Founders grapple with this question when faced with chargebacks and unpaid balances. Is debt collection for startups right for me? What can it do to my business? What will it do for my brand? Should I do it myself or outsource?
Is debt collection for startups effective?
Debt collection is a natural part of the customer life cycle, and neglecting it often creates more problems than it prevents. As a machine learning based, digital first provider with high consumer satisfaction scores, we know it’s an effective tool that can be used without the historically negative connotations and with positive brand impact. Debt collection augments your internal A/R efforts, adding a partner who not only has access to tools you don’t have, but also has more negotiation experience and a ton more data – on the right channel, time, tone, and offer to use with individual consumers.
Is debt collection for startups right for you?
Do customers owe you money for a post-paid service or chargebacks? Are you happy with your A/R process, or is it a draining effort that no one in your team likes taking care of? If recovering lost funds is painful, as it is for most, you need help. Debt collection is a cheaper alternative to simply losing the money or keeping an in house collections team, especially if the relationship with the customer has become adversarial.
We think that debt collection has a strong relationship component. When defaulted customers pay through us, they often do so because they feel that they’re being heard for the first time since their dispute with our clients started. Sometimes a customer has a bad customer care experience, a billing error, or a misunderstanding about an invoice, and suddenly they’re 90 days behind. A lot of late customers are just making excuses – but we’ve built the expertise for dealing with them at scale.
Buy or build?
You should talk to your customers before sending them to us. A structured process is key to not only getting paid yourself as well as our success for you down the road. It always helps to start the process in house (don’t forget to teach them how to handle excuses). After the first 15-30 days past due you can ship them over and let us take care of them. A good debt collector will recover money; a great collector will recover money, plus some of your old customers, and help you grow your business.
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Chargebacks are frustrating. Debt collection for chargebacks can help.
Chargebacks are a part of doing business, but they’re also incredibly frustrating. It’s a slow, disjointed process that can hit 1-2% of your GMV. Chargebacks create multiple issues.
- Chargebacks take time to get to you. A consumer can take months to charge back and while the majority of chargebacks come in in the first 30-60 days, not all of them do. You may lost revenue you thought you had several months after you book it.
- Chargeback dispute is manual, slow, and often ineffective. Chargeback often arrive by snail mail with very little time to respond, and evidence collection and submission is tedious.
- Many chargebacks are caused by buyer’s remorse and abuse of credit association rules. As high as 30% of eCommerce chargebacks may be the result of remorse, spouses using the other’s card without their knowledge, or just friendly fraud.
Many businesses start their own payment operations teams, focusing on detection and prevention. There’s a lot you can do in detecting fraudulent and abusive behavior in advance. When you don’t, and representation doesn’t work, debt collection for chargebacks is a tool you must consider.
Can debt collection for chargebacks really help?
Debt collection for chargebacks is an effective complimentary process, working hand in hand with representation to increase your recovery rate. The customer is liable for paying you based on your terms of service, even if you can’t charge their card. Debt collection, especially with a digital-first solution, will improve your chances to recover and reduce your risk of alienating your customers. Clearing out the reason for their chargeback might help you win them back as customers.
You must approach these customers with the right mind set. TrueAccord is exceptionally good at handling disputes, not only blindly go after the money. By listening to your customer, we are able to discern with greater accuracy whether the chargeback was a result of fraud or something else. We lead the customer into paying back what they owe, telling us their story and giving you feedback, and getting them back to paying status. It’s a win all around.
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Startups live and die by customer acquisition and growth, and that is where they spend most of their time and effort. However as many startups find out, retention is key to continued growth. Active current customers spend more, and are more likely to use other services your offer as well as refer others to your service. As part of our debt collection for startups service we meet many consumers who’ve churned and left an unpaid bill. We’ve learned that customers who churn sometimes provide businesses with the most important feedback.
Why do customers churn? The vast majority don’t do so with malicious intent, even if they leave an unpaid balance behind. Most of these situations involve a service or product dispute. A disappointed customer feels that paying is unfair, even if they agreed to a charge in advance. Some have real cash flow or billing issues. What do you gain from talking to these customers, or from using a service to engage with them?
- They have the most pointed feedback for issues with your product or service. Deciding not to pay is a strong decision often driven by an exceptionally bad experience. This is the equivalent of a bug bounty program – finding what went wrong while recovering money. Debt collection for startups should be focus on soliciting that feedback, not only getting you paid. Listen to the content rather than the style, and you’ll discover a plethora of relevant product and process feedback.
- They care enough to make it noticed. Not paying is a strong signal, and you want to unpack what happened. The same issue this customer identified may impact thousands more who, instead of not paying, just churn – or hurt your referrals. You need to talk to them to find out what’s going on.
- They often owe you money. There is revenue to be recovered by reconciling with churned customers, both money they owe and future income. While TrueAccord offers debt collection for startups, our NPS is 60 – mostly because we offer a positive experience in a negative situation. Engaging with these customers or using a partner to do so can turn their perception by 180 and change your relationship trajectory.
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Getting paid is a difficult job, and one that small businesses often struggle with. Customers will surprise you with excuses and disputes that can severely influence your cash flow. In this post we’ll discuss ways to engage with your customers early so you won’t have to send them to small business collections.
Prepare to Receive Less Than 100% of What You Are Owed
Some customers won’t pay, no matter what you do. They may disagree they need to pay at all, irresponsible, or genuinely had a life event that impact their ability to pay. You’ll eventually need to use a trusted third party like TrueAccord to get these ones to pay. Accepting this saves you time and heartache – there’s a limit to the number of calls and reminders you should offer late payers and a limit to the time you or your team should spend on them. Still, there are ways to get closer to 100% even before using a small business collection service.
Reducing the Rate of Late Payers
Preventing late payments requires a structured process to keep them aware of their obligation, deal with expected excuses, and following up until you get paid. Specifically, pay attention to the following:
Be planned with giving out credit. Negotiate payment terms in advance, write them down, and limit how much risk you take in every transaction. Adopt pre-paid models whenever possible, and require a payment instrument before you let customers use your product. Beware of new customers, those without a long established history, that run up a balance on their first days or weeks. If you run an eCommerce business or a marketplace, frequent and aggressive purchasing sprees from new customers are a major red flag and should be stopped and examined by your risk team.
Be prompt in issuing your invoice or charging a payment instrument post completion of a job or with following up on late payments. Have a process for following up on chargebacks, outstanding balances, or invoices early and often, even if you end up sending some balances to a small business collections partner. Even if you don’t get paid on time, keeping on top of customers increases awareness and prepares them to negotiate payment terms when they’re able to.
Be frictionless in your methods of payment. Keep a payment instrument on file even if your model is post payment, and verify it with a $0 authorization or random charges. The more payment options you have, especially the more backup payment options, the better your chances of getting paid. PayPal was able to recover more than 95% of failed ACH payments thanks to using cards as backup payment instruments.
Be polite in your communication with your customer. They might not pay you today, but end up being a valuable long term customer if you just work with them through their current situation. Your goal with your receivable management process isn’t only to prevent late paying customers, it’s also to retain relationships with the most valuable ones. Don’t let a temporary situation ruin a beneficial long term relationship.
Be ready to escalate. You may invest a lot of effort in order to prevent late paying customers, but you are not an A/R expert and are not planning to become one; your team isn’t either. Using a third party takes emotion out of the equation, allows customers with service disputes to express themselves, and creates an opportunity to negotiate. Having a small business collections partner as a last resort also increases your chances of recovery just by informing customers that it’s an option. We don’t like it, and we’re always focused on great UX, but the negative perception “debt collection” evokes can work in your favor.
It’s not easy to prevent late paying customers, but following a process, a few best practices, and using a strong small business collections partner can get you paid much sooner than you usually do. Think through your on-boarding, billing, and follow up process to significantly reduce the number of people who end up not paying – and talk to us when you’re ready to hand them off.
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