How Collection Agencies Can Best Manage Debtor Phone Numbers

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Managing phones numbers in any collection system is a complex task. You have both verified and unverified numbers. In addition, you’re continually receiving new accounts that link to existing accounts. These may come with numbers that are new, or numbers that exist on older accounts. Numbers that exist on older accounts may have been worked and determined to be bad numbers or wrong parties!

How do you navigate this seemingly impossible and complex web? How are other systems doing it?

Let us take a couple of moments to consider the data, the work elements, and their complexities. Doing this may give us some hints as to the best way to proceed.

Item

Description

Complexities

Home phone Number probably placed on your account screen May not be a good number
Work number Number probably placed on your account screen May not be a good number
Cell number Number probably placed on your account screen May not be a good number. We need to identify a cell number with permission to call.
Numbers in an “All  phones” area within your system The numbers on the account detail screen and other possible numbers for debtor or third parties. A phone code could be used to designate the type of number and if it is a “good” number. How should you call these numbers? Do we move them into the account detail screen when we have no numbers there? How about linked accounts having different numbers?
Queues Phones numbers have to be associated with accounts to be worked What numbers do we call? Do we only look at the primary (base) account? The linked accounts may have different numbers.
Legal concerns The many legal issues that relate to the use of information on one account to collect on another account. Can you use a phone number on a new account to call about another linked account?
Automated dialers Using predictive or preview modes to make phone calls Can you call cell phones using a dialer? In what mode?
Third parties Parties who may be related to or know the debtor Rules and logical assumptions when we talk about contacting third parties. E.g. Once you make contact, you should not call again.
Managing cell phones The area of knowing what a cell phone is and working them appropriately How to you handle cell phones and third parties. Some clients want cell phones dialed from a “desk” phone. How do you do that and count the calls for client and state limits?
Primary account The “base” or “face” account that represents a group of accounts. The primary may be closed. You can have different information on different accounts for the same debtor.

Now that we have presented the parameters, how do we manage all these different phone numbers? How do we make sure that are called in the most effective manner? If we make multiple attempts, they should ideally be at different times in the day.

The solutions to the challenges we have presented are available within our collection platform RMEx. Stay tuned in for the answers which are coming soon!

Continuing the Discussion

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  • avatar jmapes says:

    I love these questions because so many collection systems handle the problem differently. Some systems have a one-to-many phone relationship with the debtor file and tag the phones as home, cell, POE, etc, and apply a priority sequence. But then how can those numbers be “uprooted” to be matched the next time the same debtor comes through or the same address or maybe you have a nearby and then a debtor comes in with the name and address of the nearby number…

    So far I’ve seen agencies develop SQL servers to pre-screen the data coming in, dumping their database to a pre-screen server. This serves not only for numbers but to identity other events, like litigious debtors, etc. It would be nice to see a platform flexible enough that the agency could manage these new needs rather than having to build a secondary system to accomplish what the collection software is not capable of. I think this will lead me to write a post on “what the perfect collection system must have” yet not name a software, if one even exists to that level. Then maybe we could have different software providers “check the boxes” to compare who has those capabilities or they can bring their software to cover those needs. I think there could be two parts, “must have” and “highly wanted”.

  • avatar Ranjan Dharmaraja says:

    I have seen agencies do very clever things with technology. But why? What business are collection agencies in? Although there is a lot of information technology needed, collection agencies are not in the software business! They are forced to invest (at a great cost) in internal software development, because most commercial systems do not deliver the technology and features that they are looking for! Everything we want to do with phone numbers can be automated. This is not a new area! The industry has not insisted that software vendors use today’s computing power to deliver new and better solutions to old problems!

  • avatar Joe Potter says:

    I had a breif opportunity to work on Intellect – a Quantrax system. I’ve not had the pleasure to work on RMEx but I’m sure Ranjan and his team have developed something special. Looking forward to learning more about their solution and to Ranjan’s point, why do collection agencies stray from their core business and attempt to become software developers? In my experience and view, it’s a mistake when solutions exist in the market place built by very tech and system savoy experts very knowledgable about what solutions agencies are looking for.

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