How Making the Switch to Digital-First Helped Recover $17M with TrueAccord’s Retain Platform

By on June 6th, 2022 in Industry Insights
How Making the Switch to Digital-First Helped Recover $17M with TrueAccord's Retain

When COVID hit in 2020, one Fortune 500 company needed to find an effective way to communicate and collect from the rising overdue accounts, with many of their customers falling into financial hardships. While the company had previously relied on old-school communication tactics like direct mail and an in-house call center to reach customers who had delinquent accounts, they knew a better solution was needed. 

The company had already observed firsthand a rise in customers’ preference for digital communications between mobile apps and online bill pay options, making it clear that this was the best route to go. Rather than build from scratch in-house—which would’ve been costly and time-consuming—the company evaluated third-party options before choosing TrueAccord and implementing Retain, the client-labeled early-stage collections solution. 

Once implemented and customized to fit the company’s needs, TrueAccord helped them collect over 63,000 payments to recover over $17 million. 

Retain’s digital outreach strategy made a significant impact on customer engagement and resolution beyond just payments with improvements across their paid in full rate, overall collections rate, average amount collected daily, and more. And with the help of HeartBeat, TrueAccord’s powerful machine learning decision engine, they were able to observe behavior data and optimize digital touch points and engagement in real-time. In just a few weeks, this digital collections approach caused a major transformation that only continued to improve. 

Discover all the astounding results in our full Case Study and learn more about how Retain helped the company implement the successful solution. 

Want to see how much more your company could recover with Retain? Request a demo! 

Flipping the Script: Collecting with Kindness

By on April 21st, 2022 in customer experience, Industry Insights

Historically, debt collectors have been depicted as hostile, intimidating or downright rude – and over the years they’ve confirmed those stereotypes through aggressive phone calling and deceptive tactics. But to what success and at what cost? We know there’s a better way. The idea of compassionate, considerate consumer communication is behind TrueAccord’s approach to debt recovery and drives our innovation, and based on what we’ve seen, we believe there’s a lesson to be learned for others in the debt collection space. 

In collaboration with OnePoll, TrueAccord recently surveyed consumers about their financial regrets and found that 63% of respondents had some amount of money in collections. While 88% of respondents didn’t have any past experience with accounts in debt collection to report, the 12% that did weren’t so lucky, and their experiences were pretty awful. We don’t like to hear about consumers being treated badly and reading these consumer comments brings to light the problem we’re trying to solve. 

So what are consumers’ complaints about their experiences with debt collectors? Here are just a few:

  • “A million phone calls a day.”
  • “I was disgraced in a public place.”
  • “Relentless and rude, judgemental and uncaring.”
  • “Terrible experience, they were perfectly nasty.”
  • “They are mean and evil and clever and make you feel terrible about yourself.”
  • “They get angry when I don’t have the money to pay back in time.”

We’re here to flip the script. At TrueAccord, we don’t call consumers to collect past due debts, and we certainly don’t threaten or harass. By using a digital-first communication approach and friendly, humane messages, we actually connect with consumers and they feel empowered and motivated to pay. 

Don’t believe us? Here’s some real-life customer feedback from people TrueAccord has helped out of debt:

  • “Thank you for your patience and understanding!”
  • “Love the email communication and the ability to pay online.”
  • “I actually looked forward to making payments because I felt there was a sense of mutual respect between myself and TrueAccord. It felt good to take care of a lingering debt.”
  • “Thank you for your kindness, patience and professionalism in the wake of hardship.”
  • “It is amazing to be able to feel good about paying your bills. You helped me all the way. No pressure.”
  • “My experience with TrueAccord was seamless. Truth be told, it’s the first time I’ve ever enjoyed time spent with a debt collection company!”

So far the kindness approach has worked for TrueAccord – with more than 16 million customers served, we pride ourselves on our 4.7 on Google reviews, A+ rating with the BBB, and overwhelmingly positive customer feedback, not to mention our industry-leading recovery results. We’re proving that when you treat consumers with respect and kindness you can actually achieve better results for your business and customers.

Interested in finding out more about how outbound calling for debt collection is a thing of the past, our approach to digital-first debt collection and how it can work for your business? Check out “Outbound Calling Doesn’t Work, Here’s What Does” for more.

Building a World-Class Recovery & Collection Strategy: The Complete Starter Kit

By on March 7th, 2022 in Company News, Industry Insights
TrueAccord Blog

Delinquencies are a predictable reality for any business that handles payments, but the most efficient and effective way to recover delinquent funds isn’t always as predictable.

A recovery team could theoretically chase down every last delinquent dollar. But it would soon reach the point at which the operational cost of the effort – and the associated legal and reputational risk – would cut into profitability.

With so many factors involved, it can be difficult to even know where to start…

The planning process should start with an in-depth understanding of what makes a world-class recovery strategy in today’s digital-first age, a look at the big picture for your specific industry all the way down to your detailed metrics, and KPIs that should be steering your strategy. Consumers expect a seamless, personalized experience in every financial transaction, and your recovery operations can continue to deliver that all the way through the customer journey when you have the right strategy in place.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to debt recovery and collection, but getting started doesn’t have to be daunting when you have the right resources to get you going.  

Beyond Best Practices and into Actionable Tactics 

Go beyond general best practices and start plugging in your own data with the tools inside our new Recovery & Collection Starter Kit. We have assembled guides, calculators, cheat sheets, and more to provide the frameworks and metrics for your organization to get started architecting the right recovery strategy for the long run. 

Each starter kit includes:

  • World-Class Recovery Guide pick your industry edition!
    • Manage delinquencies without sacrificing consumer experience
    • Balance performance with operation metrics and consumer-focused KPIs
    • Compare, contrast, and evaluate in-house vs partner collection strategies
  • Cheat Sheet: Top KPIs for Your Recovery Operations 
    • Differences between traditional debt collection metrics, digital engagement tracking, operational KPIs, and more
    • New consumer-centric KPIs for today’s most effective recovery strategy 
    • How to calculate profitability of a collection operation using operational metrics
  • Interactive Recovery & Collection Calculator
    • Enter your business’s KPIs to measure the profitability of your recovery
    • Discover opportunities to improve the reach, resolution funnel, and cost effectiveness of your recovery operation
    • Scenario plan how much in additional revenue and cost savings the shift to an intelligent, digital strategy can drive for your business
  • Choosing a Recovery Partner: Top 6 Questions to Ask
    • Detailed questions on communication, technology, risks, and more
    • Why each question matters for both profitability and consumer-experience 
    • Based on each question, what to look for in a potential partner’s responses 

Download your Recovery & Collection Starter Kit now>>

These tools will teach you how to maximize profitability by efficiently recovering money lent to customers or members—while simultaneously maintaining consumer loyalty. Now is the time for businesses across verticals to embrace a disruptive, obsessively consumer-centric mindset for recovery and collection, and experience the results of this new approach. 

Survey: Consumers Talk Financial Regrets, Credit Scores and Debt

By on February 23rd, 2022 in Industry Insights

Most Americans are in enough credit card debt, they would do anything to go back in time and change the outcome of their financial situation, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 general population Americans examined how they tackle their financial hurdles and found the average person owes $3,083 to credit card debt. 

Many respondents shared their financial regrets over the years, from not setting up a retirement plan when they were younger (51%), to not paying close attention to their credit score (43%) and buying goods that were too cheap (41%).

Three-quarters (76%) have made an average of five financial decisions they regret in the past five years. And those who are eager to get out of debt (76%) have already planned their “debt free” celebrations once they finished paying all their dues. 

Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by TrueAccord, a digital debt collection company, the study revealed 77% of respondents have lost an average of nine hours of sleep per week due to their financial woes.

When they’re in a financial crisis, 63% of people will turn to someone they trust — with half turning to their parents, 48% to their best friend and 46% to their primary bank. 

Overall, 87% of people credit their financial “wins” to the people who had given them advice, while seven in 10 (71%) said they’ve learned from others’ financial mistakes.

“There are close to 80 million Americans with past due debt and most want to pay it off and move on with their lives. But that is exceedingly difficult, especially in a debt collection system that treats consumers poorly and is more interested in process than simplifying debt repayment,” said Ohad Samet, founder of TrueAccord. “What we see more and more are consumers in debt who want to pay off their balances but are met with challenges of communicating with collectors, financial literacy and budget considerations that create roadblocks to being debt-free.”

For many Americans, recovering from financial regrets starts with their credit score. The average person doesn’t understand the importance of their credit score until they’re 28 years old, but believe it’s better to start building a credit at 25 years old.

Over four in five (84%) said maintaining a good credit score is important to them, with nearly as many (81%) saying it’s even more important than their social lives.

Respondents also recalled the feelings they have when they see their credit card statements and when they’re about to make a payment. When seeing their statements, 31% said they feel confident and 24% feel fear. 

On the other hand, people feel satisfaction (36%) and happiness (22%) when making a payment.

While 38% don’t plan on taking out any kind of loans in 2022, many are already making plans for loans in the year ahead — including credit card loans (34%), personal loans (33%) and mortgages (30%). 

“For those who are able to repay their balances, there may still be a longer-lasting impact to their credit score that can be difficult to remedy and further inhibit financial stability,” added Samet. “People will continue to borrow money when they need it, but what’s important is that they are informed on loan or credit terms and have a financial plan in place to ensure they’re making smart spending and repayment decisions. At the end of the day, though, getting into collections is often the result of trauma — loss of work, a healthcare crisis, and so on — many of them unexpected.”

TOP 10 FINANCIAL REGRETS AMERICANS HAVE

  1. Not starting a retirement plan while I’m young 51%
  2. Not paying attention to my credit score 43%
  3. Buying cheap goods 41%
  4. Defaulting on payments and ending up in debt collection 41%
  5. Overspending on credit cards that I can’t afford to repay 38%
  6. Buying a car without knowing what’s involved 37%
  7. Letting student debt accumulate 36%
  8. Getting locked into fixed interest rates 29%
  9. Not investing money while I’m young 26%
  10. Not buying a home/property while I’m young 25%

How TrueAccord Embraces Machine Learning to Create Positive Consumer Experiences in Debt Collections

By on December 23rd, 2021 in Industry Insights, Machine Learning, Product and Technology
TrueAccord Blog

By Laura Marino

TrueAccord’s Chief Product Officer, Laura Marino, was recently featured in the New Standard in Debt Collection panel as part of the Beyond Digital: The Next Era in Collections summit. As a civil engineer turned product management executive, Laura has a unique viewpoint on the evolution of machine learning in software across a variety of industries. In this blog post, Laura shares her perspective on machine learning at TrueAccord and in collections, in general.

At TrueAccord, we know that consumers prefer digital channels and self-service. We also know that just providing the digital channels is not enough. To truly engage with consumers we need to help them throughout the journey. This is where machine learning comes in.

What is machine learning?

Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. In the context of collections, and specifically in the context of our consumer-centric approach to collections, machine learning is a wonderful tool to personalize the experience for each consumer, effectively engage with each of them, and ultimately help resolve their debt.

There has been so much hype around machine learning, but often companies that claim to do ML are really using fixed rules or heuristics (if a consumer does X, then do Y) without including any of the automatic learning and improvement. Or they may be using ML for a very specific, very limited scope – like automating some consumer support responses. The reason that leveraging ML is so difficult for something as complex as collections and recovery is that it requires a lot of expertise in data science and behavioral science, it requires a lot of user research, and it requires a lot of data.  This is not something that a company can decide to start doing overnight as an add-on.

How does TrueAccord apply machine learning to debt collection?

TrueAccord is leveraging machine learning and behavioral science throughout the entire journey, from initial engagement all the way to resolution. We were built specifically around the hypothesis that focusing on machine learning-driven, digital-first experiences was the way to transform debt collections. We have been doing this since 2013, and we have orders of magnitude more data than anyone else. Just to give you an idea: we send millions of emails per day, and hundreds of thousands of text messages per week and our ML engine learns from every open, every click, every action on our website, and every interaction with our call center agents. Because of all of this, we have something that is very hard for anyone to imitate.

Unlike traditional collections, we do not use demographic data like age, zip code, or creditworthiness to personalize the experience. Instead, we use engagement data about how the consumer responds at every step in the process.  

We have handled debts for over 24 million consumers and we have collected data about each individual interaction with those consumers. That wealth of data, combined with our ongoing user research is behind the ability of Heartbeat (our fully automated and reactive decision engine) to personalize the experience for each consumer.  We’ve seen this data-driven machine learning customer-centric approach lead to increased customer satisfaction, better repayment rates, and lower complaint rates.

Machine learning is used to personalize and optimize every step of the customer journey. The first thing we need to do is to effectively engage with the consumer.  For that we have several models: 

  • Cadence optimizer: determines the right cadence to communicate with each consumer about their debt. Specifically, it determines which day to send the next communication. We don’t have a fixed rule that says “send an email every x days.” Our decision engine decides it dynamically based on the type of debt, the consumer behavior, and where they are in the process. 
  • Send time optimizer: determines when during that day, communication should go out. A working mother who is busy with her kids in the morning and in the evening is more likely to check her messages in the middle of the day during her lunch break. A construction worker has a very early start to their day, may prefer to check messages at the end of the day.  We want our consumers to receive our communications during their preferred times so that they are at the top of their inbox and not buried under 50 other emails. Reaching people at the right time of day has a big impact. Due to our send time optimizer, we saw a 23% increase in liquidation for certain types of debts. 
  • Email content rater: we also want to make sure that the tone of our communication is one that will best resonate with a specific consumer. For each piece of content we send out, our content team has created multiple versions with different voices, ranging from very empathetic to more ‘to the point’ because different people respond to different styles. Heartbeat chooses which one to send based on what it has learned from the behavior of each consumer. 

After engaging the consumer with the right cadence, timing, and content we want to make sure that they commit to a payment plan and stick to it until their debt is resolved. For that, we have machine learning models that determine the best combination of discount and length of payment plans to offer to each consumer. The options that the consumer sees when they get to the payment plan page are tailored to them based on what Heartbeat believes will work best. The consumers can build their own plan but, if we can proactively offer options that work, we make it easier.

We also have a ‘payment plan breakage model’ that helps us identify consumers who are at risk of not making a payment so that we can proactively reach out to them and give them options. With this we were able to increase the resolution rate among customers at risk by 35%.

What do customers think about TrueAccord’s model?

We have a lot of very positive feedback from our consumers which I attribute very much to our machine learning capabilities. It is one of the things that I think is so exciting for everybody who works at TrueAccord. We consistently get messages saying, “Thank you for making it so easy. Thank you for allowing me to do it via digital channels without having to talk to anybody.” And then when people call with questions, our call center knows that they’re there to help. People definitely respond very positively to the approach we’re taking to collections.

This content originally appeared as part of the Beyond Digital: The Next Era in Collections summit. Watch the entire summit here

Klarna’s Digital Debt Collection Journey: Outsourcing Without Sacrificing the Consumer Experience

By on June 15th, 2021 in Product and Technology

Klarna, the highest-valued private fintech in Europe, is on a mission to make shopping simple, safe and smooth, for both consumers and retailers, through its suite of payment products and services. From its inception in 2005, Klarna has not compromised on providing a seamless consumer experience — even when it comes to consumers in collection. 

With a high standard for customer experience and in an effort to integrate collections seamlessly with their product, Klarna initially opted to keep collections in-house. For five years the company had great results with in-house collections, but as Klarna expanded to new markets and added new products, scaling in-house collections while maintaining a best-in-class customer experience strained the company’s resources and became less feasible. 

This led Klarna to begin considering a third-party collection partner. By this time, the collections industry had evolved. New players like TrueAccord were building digital-first collection solutions that vastly improved the customer experience via personalized outreach, flexible payment plans, and a self-optimizing, machine learning-driven performance engine.

It’s easy to underestimate the expertise involved in building an effective, compliant digital debt collection engine, and partnering with the right collection solutions provider would free up valuable internal resources. Klarna’s priority was to focus on their core business and engage an expert partner who would be able to build a world-class collection operation for them — one that would only enhance their consumer experience while not sacrificing brand image. 

“We look at collections partners the same way we look at hiring team members: we only want to work with the absolute best. We wanted to partner with a company that truly takes care of consumers,” said Jan Hansson, VP Debt Collection, Klarna. 

Other key considerations to moving away from in-house collection included, data science expertise, engineering talent, compliance resourcing and industry knowledge. After doing their due diligence, Klarna decided to partner with TrueAccord as a collection solution provider. TrueAccord stood out from competitors in two important ways: customer centricity and digital and multichannel capabilities.

By partnering with TrueAccord, Klarna was able to increase liquidation rates and achieve better holistic results, with retention rate a key indicator. Moving to a partnership with TrueAccord from in-house collection also allowed Klarna to free up valuable internal resources and refocus on their key business functions. Klarna is now expanding their engagement with TrueAccord to include more accounts and looks forward to growing the partnership even more in the future. 

“We are so proud to work with TrueAccord,” said Sebastian Siemiatkowski, co-founder and CEO, Klarna. “Putting technology to use for the people instead of against the people is the next generation of tech.

To learn more about TrueAccord’s work with Klarna, read the full case study or check out our recent webinar, “Digital Debt Collections 101 with Klarna”.

How the collections industry can serve consumers in times of economic uncertainty

By on July 13th, 2020 in Industry Insights

Debt collection is a highly regulated industry and as such, is notoriously slow to change. While there are a number of reasons for this, the end result is a growing gap between consumer’s expectations and the services creditors offer.  

TrueAccord’s recent report, Consumer Debt in the Age of COVID-19, found that during times of economic uncertainty, this gap can grow even wider. Repayments may be irregular for the foreseeable future, so when consumers do choose to pay, it’s up to collectors to make the process as simple as possible. Now more than ever, it’s clear that the collections industry needs to catch up with other financial services and provide modern solutions for the consumers it services.

Debt collectors can pave the way for an improved consumer experience with context-aware messaging, flexibility, and opportunities for consumers to engage on their own terms.

Use Context-Aware Messaging

A consumer’s relationship with a debt collector begins well before any payment activities. While this relationship has traditionally been built on a series of letters and phone calls, today, it’s crucial to leverage digital channels and a context-aware approach. 

Consumers expect a personalized experience from their financial services, and debt collection should be no different. Customizing communications based on context improves engagement and enhances the customer experience. To succeed, digital debt collectors must leverage their messages from robust content libraries, selecting the right communication at the right time.

A key part of finding the “right” message is striking the right tone. Financial hardships are challenging to navigate and as a debt collector, being patient and offering solutions can make a world of difference. 

At TrueAccord, our machine learning engine, Heartbeat, chooses the “right” message to send from thousands of legally approved communications based on the millions of people TrueAccord has worked with in the past. We’ve found that the right content in an email can increase click-through rates by 20%. 

To be sure, optimizing content is about tone and timing — not increased frequency of communications. In fact, there are many safeguards in place to protect consumers from email overload. Not only will email service providers identify those who over-email as spam, but consumers can also independently unsubscribe or flag messages as spam if they feel harassed.

Provide Flexible Options

Offering consumers flexible payment options is not only better for customer experience, but it can have a dramatic impact on payment plan retention as well. Our research shows that consumers are 50% less likely to drop off of a flexible payment arrangement. 

While flexibility has always been a differentiator for debt collectors, it is especially important during times of economic hardship and uncertainty. Consumers are more likely to begin a payment plan if they are confident that they can adjust their payments to accommodate uneven or unpredictable cash flow. We’ve found that consumers are more inclined to pay off debts that they feel are manageable and are owed to a company they trust.

Introduce Self-Service Options

Today, consumers take care of most of their financial needs without ever talking to a human, and paying a debt shouldn’t be any different. Online self-service tools have become the norm across financial institutions and debt collectors need to follow suit to best serve consumers. 

All debt collectors should set up a payment portal so that consumers can seamlessly make payments online. This type of self-service tool reduces friction for the consumer by removing the need to speak to an agent and allowing them to pay at any time, not just during business hours. Our data shows that 17% of consumers access our website before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m — times when they could never talk to an agent. 

To truly match the convenience of online banking, digital tools must also allow consumers to take a variety of actions including (but not limited to):

  • Adjusting the length and installment amount on their payment plan
  • Deferring a payment
  • Disputing all or a portion of their debt
  • Entering bankruptcy information
  • Applying for a hardship pause on their debt.

Implement Smarter Staffing

In times of national economic uncertainty, payments are likely to be inconsistent. For example, during the coronavirus crisis, we may see spikes in payment activity as individuals receive governmental aid or businesses are able to hire back their workers. Unfortunately, staffing becomes very complicated when there is uncertain demand. On top of that, operating a call center is currently harder than ever, with most states still requiring staff to work from home—a challenge for compliance, IT, and HR. 

One step companies can take is to prepare for spikes in payments based on leading indicators of future demand. These can include factors such as economic indicators (like unemployment rate), governmental aid programs (like the CARES Act), and consumer digital engagement trends (like click-through rates on emails). While these indicators won’t provide enough time to train a whole new team of agents, they may signal a good time to bring in your seasonal staff.

But in order to succeed in the long-term, debt collection agencies must introduce a digital-first model. Once someone decides to pay a debt, having digital payment options alleviates pressure on the call center. At TrueAccord, 95% of consumers resolve their debts without ever speaking with an agent. 

Needless to say, humans are still crucial. While machines are great at handling routine requests, there is no replacement for a well-trained agent to help customers with more complex situations. However, with the help of digital tools, each agent is more efficient. At TrueAccord, each agent is able to service more than 80,000 accounts (and counting) vs. a traditional agency’s 1,000-2,500. This type of hybrid model provides the best possible customer experience, even during busy times.


During times of economic uncertainty, debt collectors must adapt to an operating model that empowers consumers to manage their debts in the way that makes most sense for them. Based on historical trends, as well as the consumer behaviors we’ve seen in the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, we recommend that all companies collecting debt should use context-aware messaging, provide flexible options, introduce self-service options, and implement smarter staffing.

Working with the new consumer: An interview with Mike Walsh

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

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

Mike Walsh, TrueAccord’s Vice President of Enterprise Sales

What can you tell us about your background in collections?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did that at all impact your decision to join TrueAccord?

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

What do you think comes next for the collections space?

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

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

What role does social media play in debt collection?

By on April 8th, 2020 in Industry Insights

Social media in the business world is typically used in a few select ways: individuals that use platforms like LinkedIn to connect with one another, businesses that engage with directly with consumers on platforms’ brand pages, and businesses that place advertisements to reach specific audiences of prospective customers. 

In the debt collection industry, the use of social media is regulated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when used as a channel by which traditional call-to-collect debt collection agencies attempt to reach consumers that they couldn’t reach by phone must comply with the Federal Debt Communication Practices Act (FDCPA) and other state and city consumer protection laws. 

The CFPB’s new debt collection rule addresses appropriate ways to use social media (among many other things), but the rule doesn’t explore the use of social media as a tool beyond private messaging. Social media platforms are very useful tools for digital debt collection agencies and creditors to communicate with consumers but not in the way you might think.

Two things you should not do with social media

Friend request

Sending friend requests to join a consumers’ social network without making it clear that the purpose of your friend request is to collect a debt is a deceptive practice. Businesses attempting to reach a consumer should never attempt to have an agent attempt to secretly infiltrate a personal network in this way.

Instead, if you are going to send a friend request to a consumer, your message should be similar to the Zortman message and make your intent behind the request clear. Beyond that,  and must be a private request (see below on third party disclosure concerns). 

Post on feeds

Posting a debt collection communication on a public-facing account that allows others to see the content of the message on their feed, is an explicit violation of the FDCPA’s prohibition on third-party disclosure. This would publicly expose the existence of that consumer’s debt to anyone who can view the page and is akin to the old (now prohibited) practice of public debtor boards that the FDCPA sought to end.

This doesn’t mean that social media platforms are entirely unusable in the collections space. They can actually prove to be great places to share resources and provide easy access to your team so that consumers can reach you at their discretion.

How social media can help digital debt collection

Directing to support teams

The easiest way to make effective use of social media platforms for your business is to clearly present your company’s website, phone number(s), email address(es), and mailing address(es) online. Increasing visibility and keeping your lines of communication open can lead to greater engagement. 

This is especially important for digital debt collection agencies that make use of payment portals and other online tools as you can guide consumers directly to the answers they’re looking for.

With a public-facing social media account, you will find that consumers will reach out to you with questions—even questions related to their specific accounts. You want to make sure that you are prepared to answer these questions in a discreet but helpful manner so that the consumers get the information they need without any extra disclosures about their debt. 

Consumers expect this ease of access from any business, and it can make an enormous difference in the collections industry that remains largely call-based. Here’s an example of a consumer reaching directly out to our team on Twitter!

The identity of this consumer has been anonymized here, but this is a public-facing post directly on our feed.

Brand Awareness 

Social media platforms offer businesses the opportunity to advertise directly to specific customers based on their online activity. Collections agencies can use social media advertisements to build on brand awareness and help gain customer trust. Providing a hyperlinked statement about your company such as your mission, motto, or BBB rating that will appear in the personal advertising feed is not a collection communication – as long as it does not explicitly address that the consumer is in collections and cannot be shared to their social networks. 

It allows the consumer, if they choose, an easy way to investigate a company’s website, identify your business as legitimate, and gain trust in your brand.

The role of social media in debt collection continues to evolve as legislative bodies more clearly identify how it is currently being used and how those uses overlap with existing legislation. Social media platforms are an omnipresent part of consumers’ lives, and it may seem like an easy way to reach them, but the most important thing to consider is the compliance and security of their information on evolving channels. 

Mastering digital communications is easier when you choose a team at the forefront of the industry. Interested in learning more about digital debt collection? Check-in with our team.

4 ways collections can help consumers in a recession

By on April 1st, 2020 in Industry Insights

Consumer debt in the United States continues to climb into the tens of trillions of dollars, and as unemployment numbers continue to rise consumers are expected to continue to pay for essential services such as rent and utilities, companies are likely to see an exponential rise in delinquencies. All of these things together can cause financial spirals, especially for those already struggling to pay their bills.

In the midst of troubling economic downturn, it is the debt collection industry’s responsibility to remain a financial service and not create more damaging burdens. Here are four things you and your company can do to continue collecting and maintain customer relationships and loyalty even through challenging economic hardships.

Acknowledge the challenge

Communication is key. Your consumers have to know that they are seen and heard. Your mission has to help consumers navigate the challenges they’re facing.

Visitors to TrueAccord’s consumer website immediately see a banner drawing direct attention to the economic crisis. The banner links to a page with resources for those impacted (and available to those who are not impacted by COVID19) helping to answer the most frequently asked questions related to those with upcoming payments and in settlement plans. 

Provide non-collection related communications

Send communications that do not imply the existence of a debt. Do not mention any account, the balance due, or a demand for payment. Instead, provide other resources that can help anyone during this pandemic, like work from home opportunities, childcare assistance programs, and local resources for those in financial distress, including area food pantries and safe shelters. By providing tools that can aid consumers in need of help, you can be a guiding force for overcoming their financial burdens. 

Individuals in debt often need these resources year-round, not just in the middle of a crisis. These can include tools such as budgeting resources, debt payment calendars, or links to job boards for companies still hiring.

You may also consider sharing less direct financial resources such as educational tools that may be especially helpful to individuals seeking to improve their situation and parents hoping to address their family’s needs.

Extend payment plan lengths

One step that creditors can take that is simple but impactful and can help to alleviate financial concerns is to extend the length of consumers’ payment plans. Agreeing to longer payment plans gives consumers more time to pay, creating lower monthly payment rates, and leaving more dollars they can allocate to more immediate needs. 

Machine-learning and artificial intelligence can help to guide meaningful payment plan offerings. Read more about how new technologies are shaping digital debt collection.

Another step allows consumers to defer a payment. For many consumers in settlement arrangements, deferral may provide the assistance they need while not resulting in the loss of the settlement offer. In fact, North Carolina recognized this and passed this emergency law to make sure all consumers in the state have this option for the next 30 days.

Give consumers the power to manage their debts themselves

Implementing digital collections tools into your business can empower and educate consumers. Online portals and payment systems offer thousands of consumers the ease of access that they require of other financial institutions. 

Ideally, digital tools should extend beyond just payment options and should include opportunities for consumers to:

  • Make adjustments to the length and amount of their payment plans
  • Skip or defer a payment without losing a settlement
  • Dispute all or a portion of their debt
  • Apply for hardship pauses
  • Enter bankruptcy information

All without needing to speak to an agent.

The best debt collection practices should prioritize consumers’ needs and enable them to control their finances. It’s critically important to provide consumers with flexibility and the ability to customize when and how they pay.

Many in debt have tight budgets, live paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes are forced to choose between basic needs and paying bills. Leading the collections industry with compassion and empathy for those in need can make a lasting impact on consumers and creditors alike. 

Want to learn more about what we’re doing at TrueAccord and how we can help your consumers? Get in touch with us!