Why Q4 is the Time to Evaluate Your Collection Partners

By on November 1st, 2023 in Customer Experience, Industry Insights, User Experience

It’s hard to believe that the year is already winding down, but consumer debt certainly isn’t. And not having the right collection partner today can equate to missed recovery opportunities tomorrow.

So what makes the end of the year such an important time to evaluate your current collections partner? Let’s take a look at some of the timely factors.

Why Evaluate Your Collection Partner in Q4? To be Better Prepared for 2024

Be Ready for the Aftermath of Holiday Spending

It should come as no surprise that consumer spending typically increases in the last few months of the year—Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Super Saturday, Boxing Day, not to mention the expenses around holiday travel too.

But last year marked a particular surge in consumers putting a lot of that spending on credit, with 41% of Americans putting more than 90% of their holiday expenses on their credit cards, and one-third using credit cards for all their holiday expenses.

With this heavy reliance on credit, nearly 42% anticipate going into debt to pay for the holidays—especially when considering that US shoppers took on over $1,500 in holiday debt in 2022.

It feels almost inevitable that by the end of Q1 in 2024 some consumers will already be rolling over past the 90-day delinquency mark. To be ready, your debt collection should be preparing for Q1 late-stage collections now.

Get a Jump on Engagement Before Tax Season

Even though tax season may feel far off today, now is the time to start preparing engagement strategies to reach and remind consumers to prioritize repayments when tax refunds come around.

And this shouldn’t be a novel concept to customers already dealing with debt: surveys find one in five respondents intend to pay off their holiday spending bills with federal tax refunds. In 2023, 44% of Americans reported earmarking their refunds to pay off their debt overall, according to the CNBC Your Money Financial Confidence Survey.

Although paying off debt is a priority, 34% of those surveyed said they were worried their refunds wouldn’t make as big of an impact due to inflation/rising costs while still reporting that their tax refund would be critical to their household finances—don’t let your collection partner show up late to the competition when consumers are allocating those tax refund dollars.

Bottom line: many consumers will likely fall into debt in Q4 due to holiday expenses, but being prepared to engage them come tax season can help influence opportunities to secure repayment as we roll into 2024.

Why Opt for Digital Outreach? To Meet Consumers Where They Already Are

Your collection partner needs to be prepared for when and where your customers are ready to engage. And after the holidays and gearing up for tax season, many consumers are already active online—so don’t miss the chance to engage them through digital outreach.

By the numbers, consumers are primed for digital communications in Q4 and Q1 considering:

  • In 2022 online holiday sales rose 3.5% year over year, marking the largest ever online holiday season
  • 68% of Americans report they pay more attention to emails from companies during the holidays
  • 93.8% of individual tax returns were filed electronically
  • Convenience was one of the top six reasons Americans prefer filing taxes online

Given that consumers will be spending a lot of time online through Q4 and into Q1, digital communications is crucial to stay top of mind as holiday spending rolls into delinquency and competition for tax refund dollars ramps up. Your collection strategy should not only include email but also be ready with the right message at the right time to secure repayment—it takes more than just generic mass blast emails to get consumers to engage.

Does your collection partner have a plan to capture delinquent customers’ attention at just the right time with the right message? And not just looking ahead for Q1 engagement, but all year round.

Consumers Prefer Digital for Financial Services—Any Time of Year

While we see spikes in online shopping during the holiday season and more consumers choose to file taxes electronically, these aren’t the only times of year that financial transactions happen digitally.

During any given month, surveys find that 73% of people worldwide turn to online banking at least once a month, with 59% specifically using mobile banking apps. This marks an increasing adoption rate of digital channels by customers to get their banking done, jumping to 83% in 2023 up from 77% in 2020.

Globally, the number of online banking users is expected to reach 3.6 billion by 2024.

Overall, consumers are opting for a digital experience when it comes to their finances, so using digital channels needs to be an integral part of your collection strategy year-round when you consider:

  • 59.5% of consumers prefer email as their first choice for communication
  • Contacting first through a customer’s preferred channel can lead to a more than 10% increase in payments
  • 14% of bill-payers prioritize payments to billers that offer lower-friction payment experiences

Is your collection partner set to deliver personalized digital communications at scale any time of year?

How to Evaluate a Debt Collection Partner

Selecting a debt collection partner makes an impact regardless of season, but Q4 offers businesses the opportunity to set their recovery efforts up for better success leading into tax season.

But what are the questions to ask and qualities to look for in a partner? Whether your business is looking to work with a collection agency for the first time or want to reassess how effective your current provider may actually be, our latest eBook provides the Top 10 Questions to Ask along with explanations of why each specific question matters and what to look for when evaluating—available for download here»»

Ready to get a jump on your debt collection strategy for 2024? Schedule a consultation with TrueAccord’s experts to get started»»

Email Deliverability: Six Key Questions to Ask Your Debt Collection Provider (and How TrueAccord Measures Up)

By on October 23rd, 2023 in Customer Experience, Industry Insights, Product and Technology, User Experience

Did you know one of the most common reasons for missing a payment is because delinquent customers simply forget to pay their bill?

But staying top of mind for consumers is harder than ever using traditional call-and-collect methods considering stricter compliance regulations and the fact that 94% of unidentified calls go unanswered. Plus, surveys have found that when it comes to debt collection, 40% of consumers state email as their first preference of communication, and contacting through a customer’s preferred channel first can lead to a more than 10% increase in payments.

But, even if your collections partner claims to use digital engagement, are you actually getting better recovery rates?

Simply adding email into the communication mix isn’t enough—there’s a lot that goes on between hitting “send” and reaching the inbox. Understanding the core components of a successful email program is helpful, but are your collection emails actually making it to your delinquent accounts? Unopened emails or messages trapped in spam won’t help those liquidation rates.

In today’s digital world, businesses can’t afford to work with collection partners who claim to engage consumers via email but can’t back it up with the metrics to prove that their messages actually reach their intended recipients.

Let’s look at six key questions to ask your collections partners, why each question is important, and how TrueAccord measures up. Want to learn more about email deliverability? Click here»»

1) What is their primary method of consumer engagement in debt collection?

Why It Matters
The success of traditional call-and-collect methods are waning compared to modern digital engagement due to more consumers preferring digital communications, declining right-party contact rates, and increasing compliance restrictions.

How TrueAccord Measures Up
TrueAccord is a digital first, omnichannel debt collection agency—and has been a leader in digital consumer engagement.

2) How long have they used email as a form of consumer engagement in debt collection?

Why It Matters
Many debt collection providers have been slow to adopt digital communication as part of their consumer outreach, and even those who have integrated digital are still refining strategies for optimal outcomes.

How TrueAccord Measures Up
From the very start back in 2013, TrueAccord’s approach to consumer engagement has been digital-first and continues to grow into a robust omnichannel operation through machine learning driven by data from 20 million customer engagements and counting.

3) What is their email delivery rate?

Why It Matters
Email Delivery Rate refers to the successful transmission of an email from the sender to the recipient’s mail server, measured by emails delivered divided by the number of emails sent.

How TrueAccord Measures Up
TrueAccord has a 99% email delivery rate, compared to the average email delivery rate of approximately 90%.

4) What is their deliverability rate?

Why It Matters
Successful email delivery doesn’t mean that it actually makes it into the recipient’s inbox. Deliverability divides how many emails reach the recipient’s inbox, as opposed to their spam folder, by the total number of emails sent.

How TrueAccord Measures Up
TrueAccord has a 95% deliverability rate, compared to the worldwide average of 84.8%

5) Do they measure open rates and/or click rates?

Why It Matters
Measuring open rates (percentage of recipients who opened your email) and click-through rates (percentage of those who clicked on a link in the email) play a dominant role to understand which communications are resonating with recipients and which are not.

How TrueAccord Measures Up
TrueAccord has a total open rate 52% and total click rate 1.77%, compared to the 2023 average industry total open rate of 27.76% and click rate of 1.3%.

6) How do they make adjustments when delivery and/or deliverability rates fluctuate?

Why It Matters
Email delivery and deliverability rates will fluctuate, but how a provider responds and adjusts to these changes is crucial to keeping the rates as high as possible. 

How TrueAccord Measures Up
TrueAccord’s dedicated Email Operations and Deliverability Team proactively monitor and make adjustments, along with using our patented machine learning engine, HeartBeat.

Ready to Reach Optimal Consumer Engagement in Your Debt Collection Operations?

Start by scheduling a consultation to learn more about what influences email delivery and deliverability rates and how TrueAccord consistently performs above the rest. 

Get Start Now»»

Call-and-Collect vs Digital-First Engagement for Debt Recovery

By on June 1st, 2023 in Compliance, Customer Experience, Industry Insights, Product and Technology, User Experience

Outbound calling has been the main mode of collections for decades, but the cost of a call center or in-house full-time employees (FTEs) making calls is no longer justifiable when most consumers simply don’t answer the phone, on top of the mounting compliance restrictions limiting opportunities to call in the first place.

But outbound dialing isn’t completely obsolete—digital-first omnichannel strategies can turn traditional call-and-collect operations around by integrating new digital channels into the communication mix.

Let’s compare traditional outbound calling methods versus a digital-first approach in three key areas impacting your business’s ability to collect more, faster:

  • COST

Get even more statistics and data in our latest eBook — Why Evolve from Outbound Calling to Omnichannel Engagement? Cost, Compliance, & Consumer Preferencesavailable for download now»»

COST: Call-and-Collect

The cost to collect has been on the rise for traditional methods for years, whether you outsource to a call center or have FTEs dialing the phones.

One reason for this rise is based on the fact that many lenders still practice old strategies to prioritize contacting customers based on their risk profiles, balance, and average days delinquent—completely missing portions of their portfolios. Factoring in propensity to pay is important to successful engagement, but it means that agents’ time is focused on only a small portion of accounts, leaving potential repayments on the table.

Add in the overhead costs, inflation, and hiring challenges of using agents as first attempts at engagement and watch the expenses continue to climb past what you’re able to collect through outbound calling.

COST: Digital-First Omnichannel

Right off the bat, digital-first shows the cost of collections can fall by at least 15%.

Since digital is infinitely scalable, this communication tactic can touch every single account, regardless of scoring models—unlike human dialers who can only physically call a certain number of accounts on any given day. Going digital-first cuts down on the time billed for making repeated outbound calls that are never answered or returned, and it allows agents to interact with customers that want to speak directly to a person.

Overall, digital-first has shown to boost customer engagement by 5x, the first step towards repayment.

COMPLIANCE: Call-and-Collect

It’s no secret that it’s increasingly complicated to reach customers with all the legal communication restrictions.

While all debt collection communication is subject to compliance rules, outbound calling has specific laws and regulations that can carry costly penalties for non-compliance—and it’s only becoming more complex with new state-specific rules rolling out right and left. But no matter where your business is doing business, if you’re making collection calls you must follow these federal guidelines:

  • Inconvenient Time Rule: prohibits calling before 8am or after 9pm
  • Regulation F’s 7 and 7 Rule: Cannot call more than seven times within a seven-day period
  • Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act) tagging legitimate businesses as spam
  • FCC Orders further restrict dialing to landlines and include opt-out requirements for prerecorded voice messages

But there is a more streamlined way to ensure your collection communications are following all the rules: enter code-based compliance.

COMPLIANCE: Digital-First Omnichannel

Code-based compliance works by programing rules that ensure all communications fall within all federal and state laws and regulations, such as:

  • Frequency and harassment restrictions
  • Consent requirements*
  • Disclosure requirements

This digitally designed approach to compliance greatly reduces the opportunities for human error that are bound to occur in more manual processes. Additionally, the digital-first approach allows companies to continue to collect during times that calling would violate certain regulations, like the Inconvenient Time Rule. In fact, 25% of payments come in after 9pm or before 8am (the determined inconvenient times), since these hours can actually be more convenient for consumers to catch-up on digital communications they received throughout the workday.

*Generally, there is no requirement in the federal law to send debt collection communications by email, though some states are more restrictive. This is not legal advice, please consult an attorney for guidance on your unique circumstance.


46% of consumers want to be reached through their preferred channels—so what are today’s consumers’ preferences?

Here’s a hint: phone calls aren’t at the top of the list.

And today’s Right Party Contact rates show it, ranging between just 0.5% – 4.0%. And out of those that do answer the phone, 49.5% of consumers take no action after a collection call. The old call-and-collect tactic may actually do more harm than good if compliance rules are ignored: out of the communication tactic complaints received by the CFPB in 2020, over half complained of frequent or repeated calls.

CONSUMER PREFERENCE: Digital-First Omnichannel

So if phone calls aren’t consumers’ preferred method of communication, then what is? For 59.5% of consumers, email is their first preference when it comes to debt collection communications. This is especially important considering that first contacting a customer through their preferred channel can lead to a more than 10% increase in payments.

This digital preference isn’t surprising since nearly nine in ten Americans are now using some form of digital payments—why would they expect collections to be any different? 14% of bill-payers prioritize payments to billers that offer lower-friction payment experiences, and digital is often preferred because of it. Digital communications are easily controlled by consumers and are tightly managed by service providers with built in mechanisms to prevent harassment (like with code-based compliance), which we know has historically been a challenge for call-and-collect practitioners.

Digital-First is the Future of Collections

And it’s here today, working for TrueAccord clients and customers.

At TrueAccord, we find that more than 96% of customers resolve debts without any human interaction when digital options are offered—reducing costs associated with outbound calling, lowering risks with code-based compliance built in, and delivering an experience that consumers prefer.

Get even more statistics and data in our latest eBook — Why Evolve from Outbound Calling to Omnichannel Engagement? Cost, Compliance, & Consumer Preferencesavailable for download now»»

Ready to go digital-first with your debt recovery operations? Schedule a consultation to get started today!

Reduce Costs While Collecting More With Digital-First, Omnichannel Strategies

By on May 10th, 2023 in Customer Experience, Industry Insights, Industry Interviews, User Experience

Over the past two years, revolving credit card balances have grown more than 25% and are now above $1.2 trillion. Additionally, personal savings rates are stubbornly holding near 65-year lows, and combined with higher interest rates driving higher minimum payments, consumers are obviously feeling the stress. At the same time, delinquency rates on these higher balances have increased over 45%, putting significant strain on bank credit losses.

So what can lenders do? Let’s start by looking at what consumers want, and what outbound calling agents would like to see as well.

What do Customers Want? And What do Agents Want?

For businesses executing outbound call strategies and leveraging dialer technologies, the range of right party contact rates are anywhere from a struggling 0.5% to 4%. With these diminished returns of connection rates, calls become more expensive and less impactful.

It’s no secret that consumer preferences are changing rapidly and younger generations especially do not want to answer phone calls—and it’s important to keep in mind these younger borrowers will be the customers businesses will be servicing for the next 30 to 40 years, especially in a delinquent environment.

In general, consumers want to pay off their debts, but they want to be able to do so when it’s most convenient for them, which is often outside the “presumptively convenient times” between 8am and 9pm. In fact, 25% of payments come in after 9pm or before 8am. At TrueAccord, results show that more than 96% of customers resolve debts without any human interaction when digital options are offered.

But what does that mean for the humans dialing phones for traditional call-and-collect methods?

When businesses deploy an outbound call strategy before digital, often agents are shooting in the dark despite good intentions and dedicated efforts—which can affect outbound agent morale, making it a difficult environment to hire and retain top talent. And given today’s economic landscape, it’s challenging to call and collect from people who are behind on their bills or payments when so many other financial obligations are competing for dollars.

The key: let agents do what agents are good at—the human touch—but leverage digital as the first touchpoint. Let digital get the customer to understand where they are in delinquency. If and when they want to talk to a human, agents are there to do what agents do best: empathize and resolve any issues that digital cannot.

Agents are able to attend to higher-value inbound calls when digital, self-serve options are available for those who just want to make a payment—and it allows those customers to do so in a more convenient, preferred way.

Digital-First, Save More

Digital early stage solutions reduce collections costs for leading organizations across industries by making full-time employees (FTEs) more impactful (or even lowering FTE headcount) and reducing overall expenses while maximizing repayment rates. 

Companies that do rely heavily on an outbound call strategy must realize how expensive each call becomes. The longer that an account is in delinquency, every call becomes more expensive because the likelihood or the propensity to pay diminishes as the debts get older in age. So being able to automate and find those right channels at the right time with a digital strategy will help those phone calls get better results.

Plus, the digital first strategy is infinitely scalable—it doesn’t matter how rapidly a business grows on the frontend for lending or on the backend with new accounts that fall into delinquency. This digital-first approach allows companies to mitigate against turnover or having to compete for talent in the market. And again, FTEs can now be more effective in the delinquency cycles where phone calls are preferable, especially as accounts get further into delinquency.

Making outbound phone calls absolutely serves a vital part of a business’s omnichannel strategy, but deploying digital first will make those calls more cost-effective. It also delivers a stronger connection rate by identifying those preferences through feedback from leveraging a digital-first communication strategy.

Think about how this data can help businesses not only from a performance and liquidation perspective, but by learning from which customers are opening communications versus which ones aren’t. Those that don’t respond to digital should go to the top of the call queue because the data points towards a probable preference for person-to-person calling.

TrueAccord Difference

Learning from these digital engagements is vital for optimization, but if an organization is new to digital communications or has only been sending mass-blast, one-size-fits-all emails, it can feel like an uphill trek to start getting insights to drive better results. 

But by partnering with TrueAccord, who’s been mining consumer engagement data for over 10 years, businesses get plugged in and start benefiting from our data from the get-go. Being able to automate with TrueAccord allows your company to focus on inbound human interactions while simultaneously, TrueAccord’s first-party, client-labeled platform sends effective digital communications to all of your past-due accounts. 

The bottom line benefits of working with TrueAccord:

Maximize the productivity of your business’s resources with a managed, digital-first approach that enhances the efforts of your FTEs and overall collections operations. Start with a consultation today!

An email is less intrusive than a phone call, finds N.D. Illinois while granting TrueAccord’s motion to dismiss

By on April 12th, 2023 in Company News, Compliance, Customer Experience, Industry Insights, User Experience

By Katie Neill & Steve Zahn

A court victory by TrueAccord Corp. (TrueAccord) in the Northern District of Illinois continues to showcase the benefits of digital collection as the court found receiving an email about a debt is less intrusive to consumers than receiving a phone call. Messer Strickler Burnette represented TrueAccord and filed the briefing in the case.

In the Branham v. TrueAccord opinion, the court granted TrueAccord’s motion to dismiss finding that the alleged injuries claimed by the plaintiff—undue stress and anxiety, financial and monetary loss, uncertainty as to how to proceed about the debt, and a harm that “bears a close resemblance” to invasion of privacy—are insufficient to establish standing for a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) claim.

Plaintiff’s Allegations

Plaintiff alleged that TrueAccord violated the FDCPA by contacting her twice by email after having received notice that she was represented by an attorney. TrueAccord had no record of receiving a notice of attorney representation from the plaintiff. However, when deciding on a motion to dismiss like this, the court must rely solely on the facts and allegations in the complaint and consider them as true, whether or not they are.

In the complaint, the plaintiff included a laundry list of alleged injuries suffered as a result of receiving the two emails from TrueAccord. These injuries included:

  • “Actual” financial and monetary loss without any specifics
  • Confusion on how to proceed with TrueAccord’s debt collection attempts due to “misleading statements”
  • Undue stress and anxiety as well as wasted time, annoyance, emotional distress, and informational injuries
  • A harm that “bears close resemblance to” invasion of privacy

Plaintiff Did Not Allege a Concrete, Particularized Injury

In its decision, the court shot down each of these alleged harms and found that the plaintiff failed to properly plead a concrete, particularized injury as the U.S. Supreme Court required in Spokeo, Inc., v. Robins

Specifically, the court found:

  1. Unlike telephone calls, two unwanted emails are insufficient to confer standing and wouldn’t be “highly offensive” to the reasonable person.
  2. Alleged physiological harms (e.g., emotional distress, anxiety, and stress) are abstract harms and not concrete enough to support standing without a physical manifestation of such harms.
  3. Vague and conclusory statements that the plaintiff suffered financial harm without any allegations of facts to support that alleged harm are insufficient.
  4. Attorney fees for bringing suit on a matter cannot be the sole basis of standing to bring the matter; to do otherwise would permit any plaintiff without standing to create it by retaining counsel.
  5. “Wasted time” is not a sufficient harm for standing where no facts are alleged to support the claim.
  6. The risk of an invasion of privacy without an actual invasion of privacy is too speculative and not sufficient to confer standing.

Sophisticated Omnichannel Communication Strategies

This decision is another step forward for the use of email in debt collection as the consumer-friendly way. It also showcases the need for mindfulness when implementing an omnichannel communication strategy. Notably, while the court found a couple of emails are less intrusive than a phone call, it also stated that text messages, voicemail, and calls are different as they “are sufficiently intrusive on an individual’s peace and quiet” to support standing. Using a sophisticated omnichannel strategy helps debt collectors reach consumers at times that are right for the consumer and through the right communication channel, which ultimately creates a non-intrusive consumer experience.

Schedule a consultation to learn more about how email and an omnichannel approach can help their business’s collection efforts today»»

Why is Omnichannel Engagement Critical for Debt Recovery Today? Statistics, Success Stories, and Industry Insights

By on March 29th, 2023 in Customer Experience, Industry Insights, User Experience

Reaching consumers can feel harder than ever these days, so struggling to engage delinquent customers can leave some businesses ready to accept losses as just another “cost of doing business.” With 75% of Americans reporting that they will never answer calls from unknown numbers, even the most targeted scoring model for calling has low chances of recovering funds.

But the omnichannel approach—utilizing a combination of calling, emailing, text messaging, and even self-serve online portals—is the preferred experience for 9 out of 10 customers, according to a study conducted by UC Today. And it’s not just beneficial for consumers. The omnichannel approach has been shown to increase payment arrangements by as much as 40%!

So integrating an intelligent digital communication strategy with traditional call-and-collect or letters sounds like a smart plan, but why is it more important now than ever before?

Let’s look at why today’s economic landscape makes omnichannel engagement critical for collections and how your business can get there.

Delinquencies are Rising—And Call Centers Can’t Keep Up

The first quarter of the year revealed that Americans have almost reached $1 trillion in credit card debt, breaking a record set in 2019. Fueled by inflation and higher interest rates among other economic factors, some card issuers’ charge-off and delinquency rates are also rising back up to their pre-pandemic levels.

So we know that delinquencies are on the rise in addition to new compliance regulations that have put greater restrictions on calling (such as the inconvenient times rule, 7-in-7 rule, among others), which put greater limitations on the reach call centers can actually have. Even using scoring models to focus on those who have the highest propensity to pay, consumer preferences have moved away from engaging through (or even answering) the phone.

Even if you know which delinquent accounts are primed for repayment, old school methods will never be able to reach them all efficiently in comparison to digital engagement.

On top of that, consumers are typically already carrying out financial transactions online—so why would a business expect their preferences to shift offline when it comes to handling another financial interaction? When a customer defaults on their account, it is a disruption to their lives to suddenly receive phone calls and letters regarding an account for which they previously only communicated via digital channels.

From our own experience, many of TrueAccord’s creditor-clients prefer a seamless transition to debt collection, and will even go so far as to prohibit TrueAccord from making any outbound calls or sending letters on their accounts because their customers have only ever interacted digitally.

It can even stifle the flow of information that helps consumers make informed decisions about their finances. According to the Pew Research Center, “reliance on smartphones for online access is especially common among younger adults, lower-income Americans and those with a high school education or less.” In fact, 87% of TrueAccord consumers visit our web portal from their mobile devices and tablets, not their desktop computers. Choosing not to engage via digital methods can hurt vulnerable populations of consumers who primarily conduct most of their affairs digitally.

But the answer to this challenge isn’t going 100% all-in on digital communications necessarily. There’s a better way to reach past-due customers and collect more, faster (and from happier people).

Enter the Omnichannel Approach

We’ve seen that call-and-collect operations have proven less successful over time, even using propensity to pay scoring models, but there is a time and a place for those traditional methods in an omnichannel strategy. Adding different technologies to your debt collection operation like email, SMS, and even self-serve online portals can actually enhance the hard work your call centers are already doing and make it overall more effective.

Why is the use of different channels—and more importantly a customer’s preferred channel—so critical for today’s debt collection efforts? The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 46% of consumers expect to communicate through preferred channels
  • Initiating contact with delinquent customers through their preferred channels can lead to a more than 10% increase in payments
  • Some banks have found digital communication channels can increase payment rates of customers in late delinquency by 30%
  • Lenders that have implemented digital-first solutions have seen their cost of collections fall by at least 15%
  • Traditional outreach methods like outbound calling elicited 18% fewer responses from customers with accounts 30 days past due who prefer digital communications.

The key takeaways from these studies go beyond just “going digital”—to see improvements in engagement rates, repayments, and operational costs you must communicate through the consumer’s preferred channels.

At TrueAccord, we’ve seen this approach’s success time and time again for our own clients and their customers.

Statistics and Stories from the TrueAccord Omnichannel Strategy

Almost all TrueAccord communications with consumers (93%) happen electronically with no agent interaction. The remaining 7% of consumers who do interact with an agent, send an inbound email or make a phone call to our inbound call center where any of our customer care agents are prepared to assist with their request. This is a more cost-effective and efficient use of agents’ time versus making outbound calls, which benefits both businesses and their customers, as one consumer told us on June 1, 2022:

“Thank you for not calling a million times and texting me and allowing me to pay this when I could.”

As described above, TrueAccord primarily sends digital communications to help consumers navigate and take actions at their convenience online, as this consumer told us on January 18, 2023:

“I like how you explain everything in detail by email and easy payment plans for people to regain their credit scores and to get back on their feet.”

In fact, more than 21% of consumers resolve their accounts outside of typical business hours (before 8am and after 9pm) when it is presumed inconvenient to contact consumers under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If we relied solely on reaching consumers during a call center’s business hours, that is almost a quarter of consumers who wouldn’t engage and take the next steps in their repayment process.

Our omnichannel approach is compelling for our clients as well—and it’s proven to pay off. As Todd Johnsen, Senior Manager of Collections Vendors for Snap Finance, explained:

“This audience [consumers in debt] may have already had experiences with incessant collection phone calls, and they are used to avoiding them. I wanted to find an agency that was doing things differently. I knew that TrueAccord was using technology and digital channels in a way that other providers weren’t. What we saw was almost 25-35% better performance with TrueAccord, compared to the accounts we placed with traditional agencies.”

See what other clients and consumers had to say about their debt recovery experiences with TrueAccord in our case studies and resources here»»

The Recovery Opportunities are Ripe with the Omnichannel Approach

Omnichannel targeting is a more effective way of maximizing repayment and conversation rates by offering a level of service and personalization that customers have come to expect from companies in the digital age.

With this holistic communication strategy, you can engage with every single account while call center agents still deliver the human touchpoint that can never fully be replaced. Reach customers with the right message, through the right channel, at the right time that works best for them—whether through email, text, or with a real person ready to guide customers back to financial health.

Creating an effective omnichannel strategy can seem complicated, but it’s not with the right experienced partner. Schedule a consultation to discover our early-stage collections solutions and late-stage collection services!

The Resolution Funnel: How to Effectively Guide Consumers Through the Repayment Process

By on January 25th, 2023 in Customer Experience, Industry Insights, User Experience, Webinars

At TrueAccord, our goal is to meet customers where they are to personalize a strategy for each individual customer. We do this by sending them a communication via the right channel, using messaging that resonates with them, and making them an offer they can afford.

We’re able to achieve this thanks to insights from the 20 million customers. This includes data like what email and SMS messages drive the most engagement, which web pages are customers viewing the most, what is the ideal payment plan length, as well as where and when customers stop engaging with us. With every insight, we’re able to improve the overall consumer experience and help keep customers get back to financial health (and recover more efficiently and effectively in the process).

The Resolution Funnel

A funnel is built using a lot of data and a lot of consumer insights. It helps organize that data into a view of the customer’s journey within our product and allows us to identify areas where we can concentrate product improvements. Whether that’s making the website more user-friendly, promoting new and different channels, or utilizing our patented machine learning models—each is a different lever or strategy we can use at different stages of the funnel.

At TrueAccord, our funnel is tailored to fit our business needs while still getting all the benefits of understanding our customers’ behaviors to move them through the funnel, in our case to resolve their debt.

Here’s an example that gives you a good picture of how we think about the customer journey. We have two different funnels for two different clients we work with. You can see they’re fairly different in shape. At the top of the funnels you can see all of the debts placed. Next is reachability, which looks at how the customers were reached, and then if the customers acknowledged their debt, all the way down to when they resolved their debt. These funnels show that for Client 1 we should concentrate our improvements at the top of the funnel, while for Client 2 we need to look at improvements at the bottom of the funnel.

We can slice and dice the funnel in different ways to see how different customer segments are performing. This helps us identify what is working for different consumer segments and for different clients so we can see on a granular level what stages of the funnel to lean into to improve performance specifically for them.

Top of the Funnel

When planning strategies that will improve performance and customer experience at the top of the funnel, it’s important to make sure that the contact information for a customer is correct and that content is personalized in order to get engagement. The stages that make up the top of the funnel are: Debts Placed, Reachability, and Acknowledgment.

Debts Placed: All of the debts that are placed with the company.

Reachability: For the reachability stage, the goal is to reach the consumer and make sure that they’re receiving communication efforts which could be something like a customer opening one email.

Acknowledgment: This could be clicking on an email or SMS and visiting the company’s website, but it could also be from an interaction with customer support via phone or email.

Middle of the Funnel

The two stages we consider the middle of the funnel are: Active Consideration and Commitment. This is where the customer considers the options they have, chooses one, and then commits to a payment arrangement. By providing an online platform that’s easy to use and navigate through filled with helpful content, customers are more likely to self-serve.

Active Consideration: A customer visiting a payment form on the website or having the intent to pay.

Commitment: A customer signing up for a payment plan or agreeing to any other type of deferred payment.

Bottom of the Funnel

Lastly, we’ll cover the two bottom-of-the-funnel stages which are: the Progression and Resolution of the debt. In these stages, it’s essential to have a plan management system in place to help customers keep up with their payments as well as a plan in case they fall off and stop paying. The funnel ends once the customer passes through these last two stages and has paid off their debt.

Progression: A customer paying a portion of their balance either through partial payments or payment plans. Sometimes this stage is skipped if the customer pays in full or in a lump sum payment.

Resolution: The last stage of the funnel, where a consumer satisfies their agreement through paying in full, settling, or filing a valid dispute.

Effective Recovery Through the Resolution Funnel

The more you listen to your customers through their usage and their behavior, the more you can learn and improve your digital collection strategy. Funnels can be an effective tool when you’re trying to improve your performance and customer experience, which are key factors to getting customers through to repayment. It helps you segment customer groups and define how they move through your system and products so that you can focus your collection strategies on where they matter most.

Watch the full Resolution Funnel webinar on-demand to learn more about how TrueAccord gets insights on funneling customers through each phase of the repayment process.

Interested in seeing how you can funnel more customers through the repayment process? Schedule a consultation today!

Consumers Are Making Financial Resolutions for 2023 – Here’s What You Can Do

By on December 29th, 2022 in Customer Experience, Industry Insights, User Experience

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, improving personal finances isn’t anything new. But as we look ahead to 2023, we see more and more Americans adding serious financial goals to their list. A recent Ascent survey found 66% of Americans plan on making a financial resolution.

And your business should be paying attention to the New Year goals of consumers: it’s the ideal time to support your customers to pay off debt (one of the most common financial resolutions for 2023) by meeting them where they are—with the right message, right channel, and right time.

Let’s take a look at why now is one of the best times to start engaging with consumers in a more flexible way to recover more in 2023.

Financial Resolutions Rise, Along with Delinquency Rates

As we mentioned above, financial resolutions aren’t new, but the number of Americans making them is rising (which might have something to do with rising delinquency rates). For 2022, it is estimated that more than 92 million Americans made financial new year’s resolutions, compared to only 60 million who reported making a financial resolution in 2021. And surveys found that 41% of respondents expressed a strong desire to prioritize paying down debt in 2022—a trend that will continue into 2023 for good reason.

For six consecutive months there have been increases in the 30+ days past due delinquency rates, with those accounts showing a 3.28% increase month over month in October, according to Experian’s November Ascend Market Insights. Looking ahead, TransUnion predicts delinquency rates could rise to 2.6% at the end of 2023 from 2.1% by year-end, which would represent a 20.3% year-over-year increase in delinquent accounts if the projections prove accurate.

Regardless of consumers’ personal financial goals, these delinquency rates and predicted trends are a sign that if you’re not already tailoring your collections communications to today’s consumer preferences, then a better engagement strategy needs to be your organization’s resolution for 2023.

New Year, New You, New Collection Strategy 

Meeting consumer preferences is about more than just boosting your bottom line (although that is a bonus)—showing empathy as delinquencies continue to rise can help retain customers even during their often stressful experience of being in debt. An early December survey from U.S. News & World Report shows that 81.6% of Americans who have credit card debt are experiencing anywhere from a little to a lot of anxiety about it. Among respondents to the Ascent survey who plan to make financial New Year’s resolutions for 2023, only 20% are optimistic about keeping them, with 63% predicting it’ll be too expensive to do so.

Help your customers keep their resolutions by making it easier for them to engage on their own terms with the right message through the right channel at the right time, and recover more in 2023.

Let’s look at how to do it:

Right Message
As all these recent surveys have shown, consumers are literally telling us that they want to pay down debt in the new year. But treating them in a one-size-fits-all approach can fall flat when trying to engage an individual, especially when it comes to sensitive financial situations or delinquent accounts. In fact, 72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized communications, so don’t miss the opportunity to communicate in a way that resonates with them. Learn more in our Buyer’s Guide to Digitally Engage Your Past-Due Customers here»

Right Channel
Engage with consumers through their preferred channels, whether it’s by email, SMS, or traditional calling. Research shows that 46% of consumers already expect to communicate through preferred channels. By using advanced machine learning (like TrueAccord’s patented decision engine, HeartBeat), your business can identify the ideal way to reach the customer and pivot in realtime based on reactions or engagements. Learn more about how to Elevate Your Collection Strategy with Machine Learning and HeartBeat here»

Right Time
Minimize unnecessary communication efforts and reach consumers at a productive time—which can be easier said than done if your business is still relying solely on call-and-collect methods. To meet compliance regulations, the FDCPA prohibits communication through any channel at known inconvenient times for consumers, presumed to be inconvenient between 8AM to 9PM, but often customers choose to pay their bills and resolve their accounts outside the presumptively inconvenient hours as long as they can access online account portals that allow them to see account information and take actions to resolve their account. Learn more about it in our State of Compliance & Collections report here»

Not sure if strategizing to engage your customers is the right New Year’s Resolution for your business? Just look at how customers responded to TrueAccord’s customer-friendly, digital approach to debt collection in our 2022 Year in Review and schedule a consultation today to get started!

Developing with Empathy: TrueAccord’s Mission-Driven Approach

By on December 21st, 2022 in Customer Experience, Industry Insights, Machine Learning, Product and Technology, User Experience
Developing with Empathy

When most people think of debt collection, the word “empathy” rarely comes to mind. As a mission-driven company, we at TrueAccord, are trying to change that. We know life happens and financial anxiety has become more common than ever—especially when it comes to dealing with debt. By understanding and anticipating a customer’s needs, TrueAccord takes an empathetic approach which enables us to tailor our message and help the consumer’s journey back to financial health. With this in mind, it’s crucial for us to understand how a consumer might feel when they fall into debt.

Understanding and Engaging with the Customer

Life happens and so do delinquencies. So far, most fintechs have been good at focusing on customer experience by investing in user research and making sure that their products resonate with their target audience. However, a customer’s situation can change at the drop of a hat and with it their financial status, priorities, and motivations. When a customer, whom you thought you knew well, has an account that goes delinquent, they essentially become a stranger. Now a whole new approach is required in order to engage with this consumer. 

In order to adopt the right approach to engage a delinquent account, the first thing we have to figure out is who the customer is. What are their needs? What problems do they have? Do they have special circumstances? Not only is every customer different, but every interaction you may have with that customer could be different depending on what life situation they find themselves in. So it is very important to have a broad communication strategy and be ready to meet the customer when and where they are ready to engage. This means don’t limit communication channels and have options that consumers can explore, evaluate, and select on their own time.

Leveraging Digital-First Channels

Most consumers prefer using digital channels over talking on the phone with research showing 94% of unidentified calls going unanswered. Digital channels allow people to choose when to respond without being put on the spot. 

But starting a digital-first approach is not easy—it’s not just about sending emails or SMS messages to consumers. At TrueAccord we try to find the right communication channel to use for a specific consumer. We might start with a combination of email and SMS but once we get more engagement with one or the other, we’ll primarily focus on using the channel the customer engaged in. 

We make sure that they’re aware of their debt and their options from obtaining more information, disputing, or evaluating payment plans all through a portal where the consumer is in control.. 

For consumers who do choose to set up a payment plan, we work to make sure that they have everything they need to be successful in their plan – whether that means changing the plan, the payment date, or amount, we monitor and provide content so that the consumer can effectively stay in control of their plan through successful completion – putting the consumer back in control of their own financial health while at the same time recovering for the creditor.

Using Data for a Personalized, Empathetic Experience

To truly engage consumers a successful digital strategy should go beyond a simple campaign that pushes out emails to all of your consumers at the same time every week or every other week with a generic message. Not only do you have to overcome the inboxing challenge to avoid spam filters, you need to deliver the communication at the optimal time for the consumer to open the message. And you have to have the right message, a personalized message that causes the consumer to act – to communicate back to you their intentions related to the account (dispute, full payment, payment plan, hardship, etc.). 

But how do you personalize? 

This is where it’s vital to leverage an understanding of your consumers. This can be done with experimentation in A/B testing consumer research, and machine learning. A/B testing and consumer research help identify what resonates with consumers and what does not. Machine learning allows personalization at scale. At TrueAccord, we rely on machine learning to continuously improve our models. We can see what digital channels, timing, and messaging each individual consumer responds best to and tailor those specific preferences to the individual journey for each consumer. We also make sure that compliance is included from the start as it needs to be regulated throughout. 

For example, the best payment option is different for everyone. We provide a lot of flexibility, but we also know that showing them that flexibility up front, something that they can actually afford, will engage the customer to take the next step. Depending on the size and the age of the debt, we may show a couple of payment plans that we believe will be the most attractive to that customer along with the option to build their own payment plan. Once a customer sets up their payment plan, we send reminders when payment is due. We also have models that predict if a consumer is likely to break their payment plan based on past behavior and offer options to help keep them on track, like pushing the payment if they’re unable to pay on that date (because we understand that life happens, just like delinquencies). And as they make their payments, we celebrate their progress with them and acknowledge that they are making an effort to improve their financial situation!

The End-Product:

TrueAccord has worked with over 20 million consumers and sends over one million communications per day. For each of those communications, we’re making decisions on what to send, how to send it, and when to send it all in accordance with the legal and regulatory compliance obligations. We then use that data to continuously optimize and improve our communication method for each consumer. We’ve learned that if you’re building for the downtimes, it’s critical to realize that debt collection is a part of a consumer financial service. While our creditors are our clients, if we do what is right for the consumer (our clients’ customers), they are more likely to pay back to those creditors. A better consumer experience leads to better outcomes for all. 

By incorporating an empathetic approach to debt collections, TrueAccord is able to collect more money while helping consumers with their financial situation.

Want to learn more about how your business can integrate more empathy into your collections communications? Schedule a consultation today!

The Future of Collections & Compliance: A Conversation with TrueAccord’s Associate General Counsel and Director of User Experience

By on October 5th, 2022 in Compliance, Customer Experience, Industry Insights, Industry Interviews, Product and Technology, User Experience, Webinars

Delivering communications to your customers has always been a compliance challenge with the plethora of laws, regulations, court decisions, and regulatory guidance in the debt collection space. Today with more communication channels available and regular communication from debt collection regulators—via consent orders, compliance bulletins, supervisory highlights, and even press releases—your compliance management systems and design must be flexible and easy to update.

To get expert insights on the newest compliance issues and opportunities that need to be front of mind when sending digital communications to effectively engage your customers, Associate General Counsel Lauren Valenzuela and Director of User Experience Shannon Brown teamed up to discuss the Future of Collections & Compliance in TrueAccord’s latest webinar.

Watch the full webinar on-demand here»»

Below are some of the key takeaways from their discussion, plus attendee poll results on top compliance questions.

*This blog is not legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the particular facts and circumstances of each unique matter.

The Current State of Compliance

Lauren Valenzuela [LV]: Needless to say, over the last 10 years the CFPB has fundamentally changed how we think about and approach compliance. That has really influenced our industry and how we think about communications in debt collection.

LV: Over the last decade the CFPB has taught us that compliance is an evolving thing. It’s not something that you can set and forget. It is something that is dynamic and that must constantly evolve and mature in order to be effective, because our environment is constantly changing.

Attendee Poll Question: What is the biggest compliance issue you face when trying to engage with your customers?

Changing Consumer Preferences for Collection Communications

LV: The CFPB recently published a blog and shared that it is a “mobile first” agency, meaning that most people who visit its website are using mobile devices or smartphones. Here at TrueAccord, what does our information show about mobile usage?

Shannon Brown [SB]: Consumer mobile use has skyrocketed. In 2016, about a quarter of our consumers were using their phones to read emails and visit our website—and that number has increased to consistently above 80%. We’ve put a lot of effort into making sure our emails and website are responsive to make sure we’re meeting the needs of our consumers who are overwhelmingly on mobile. We’ve made sure our pages are able to load faster for consumers that have less stable cell connections and really made sure our interactive elements are big and optimized for tapping with a finger instead of clicking with a mouse. As far as communications, our consumer research has really shown that most consumers don’t answer the phone and want to be contacted through digital channels—they want a multi-channel experience.

LV: So we’re seeing consumers increase use in mobile phones. Even the Bureau has seen that, and we’re seeing banks increase their use of digital technologies to communicate and facilitate transactions and engage with their consumers as well.

What’s the Role of the Legal Team in Your Collections Strategy?

LV: There needs to be a partnership between compliance and pretty much all core functions, and especially at a fintech company like TrueAccord where our technology and our digital communications platform are the center of what we do to help consumers. It’s really neat to see compliance interwoven, and I think that’s reflective of its compliance management system and company culture.

Compliance Management System Evolution

LV: Ten years ago, many collection agencies were likely in the undisciplined stage, where there was some type of compliance ongoing, but it didn’t have much structure—processes may be undocumented, potential exposure to vulnerabilities that expose themselves on lawsuits, for example.

The next iteration is reactive, meaning there is development of some policies and procedures, controls are identified, and the company is responding to issues and incidents reactively.

The next level is calculative. At this level, leadership is actively engaging the organization in compliance, risk assessment processes are maturing, corrective action plans are being developed and executed to remediate deficiencies.

This next level is proactive, meaning employees are trained and following clear policies and procedures, and such procedures have built in intentional redundancies. The organization is being proactive in identifying and responding to issues and incidents and is self-identifying deficiencies and essentially executing on comprehensive corrective action plans.

Generative means that there’s continuous improvement towards challenging goals, which are driven by data analysis. There’s critical evaluation of policies and procedures and controls, and risk is integrated in operations. Issues and incidents resolutions are driven by stakeholders and really enhanced controls.

Attendee Poll Question: Which category does your Compliance Management System (CMS) fall under today?

LV: So no matter where you’re at within your compliance management system and no matter what maturity level, the important thing to remember is that you don’t have to stay there—you can evolve. We can’t stress this enough. Compliance is an evolving and dynamic thing, and should be constantly evolving to stay effective in whatever environment it is in.

The fact that TrueAccord has a well-oiled compliance management system allows us to study that climate and then figure out how to translate it and make tangible improvements in our consumers’ experience. That’s something we encourage everyone to do: think about the consumer experience and the environment you’re collecting in, because it looks remarkably different than it did five years ago for example, and we should all be evolving.

The Product Perspective

LV: How has the CFPB influenced how we develop our products here at TrueAccord?

SB: Compliance has been built into our product development life cycle. Besides frequent meetings with our compliance team for feedback and approvals throughout the life cycle, we’ve designed and built our product so we can be nimble in responding to regulatory changes, which we know happen a lot.

LV: There are numerous federal, state, and local laws. Can you give some insight into how we at TrueAccord keep up with all of that?

SB: One of the ways we efficiently keep up with the requirements is through our code-driven approach.

But what does that mean practically? It means, for example, that for any phone call coming in, our agent knows exactly what disclosures need to be given to that consumer via our system, and then gives them an opportunity to log it. It means that any email that goes out has all the necessary disclosures appended, such as out of statute disclosures, state disclosures, et cetera, and these are all kept in our code base. Not only does it take the guesswork out of the equation for our agents and our content team that’s sending communication, it reduces human error. It also means that anytime anything needs to be updated, for example, a wording in a disclosure or when a new disclosure needs to be added, we can do it in one place instead of across a variety of templates and areas of the website. We can do it in one place and then that change propagates throughout the system. This helps us to react to changes really quickly.

Our compliance team is involved in every aspect of the process. They start as educators for the whole product team—we’re all aware of regulatory considerations and know where and when we need to ask for feedback and approvals from our compliance team. So they aren’t just making sure that agents are acting compliantly, but that the product team has that knowledge as well.

And as a product team, we have this wonderful research function that’s constantly talking to consumers and trying to understand their needs and asking for feedback, which we share with our compliance team so that they can go and advocate for consumers when they are talking with regulators and legislators

Future Forecast: Where is Compliance Heading in the Collections Industry?

LV: The next iteration of compliance can be seen in some of the recent CFPB and FTC activity. Last year in 2021 for example, the CFPB published a new section of its supervision and examination manual, specifically an information technology focused compliance management review section. The Bureau is looking at any type of technologies that you may employ, like machine learning models, algorithms, or analytics.

If you’re using any kind of algorithms or machine learning to help inform any aspect of your collection strategy—or if any of your service providers are using any type of algorithms or machine learning to help provide a service to you—you must pay attention to this section of the manual because it’s incredibly informative. We’re seeing the CFPB and the FTC addressing companies’ use of data and technology, wanting to make sure that companies have proper governance and oversight of it.

All of this recent activity shows how compliance within any company, more than ever before, must really take a cross functional approach to its work in order to keep up with the evolving environment. The compliance function should not be siloed. It really needs to be in partnership with all different disciplines and functions within the organization. We’re seeing right here and now and into the future, your information technology professionals, your information security professionals, your product professionals, your engineers, your data scientists, anybody who looks, touches, thinks about data and technology should all be working with compliance

Attendee Poll Question: Which of the following are you most interested in for the future of compliance and collections?

Three Key Takeaways

LV: Compliance is more than a department, it’s more than a program, it’s more than a system. It should be part of an organization’s cultural DNA. So when you think about compliance, wherever you are within an organization, think about how you can make it part of your organization’s DNA.

SB: Concentrate on building your tools to be nimble to the regulatory changes. Things like the design systems and the component libraries that allow you to make those changes quickly and easily, and make sure that they’re made everywhere across the system so you don’t have those older disclosures hanging out somewhere that someone forgot to change. Build your tools so you can make changes in one place efficiently.

LV: As our environments get more sophisticated around us, compliance professionals need to collaborate cross functionally more and more with other disciplines within a company to be effective and stay ahead of the evolution.The more the industry uses data and technology, we have a responsibility to make sure that it is being used in accordance with the law and best practices.

Have more questions about compliance in collections? Schedule a consultation with TrueAccord to learn more»»