In an era of heightened regulatory scrutiny of collection practices, implementing effective process controls, training and staff monitoring are more critical than ever. It seems that the regulations governing the ARM industry change almost weekly, and with audit and supervision authority now in place from one of the most powerful government agencies to ever be established, ensuring total compliance in all areas of collection operations is not only critical, but the ongoing operation of the business depends upon it.
While determining right party contact is not a new requirement by any means, emerging technologies can now provide enhanced tools and capabilities to ensure compliance relating to right party contact. Recently, the Quantrax Corporation announced the deployment of their “Right Party Contact Console,” something their Director of Operations Debbie Collins described as “Unique and exciting technology that will reinvent the collection industry.” Utilizing artificial intelligence technology, the Right Party Contact Console is the latest enhancement to the Receivables Management Expert system from Quantrax.
Recently, Phillip Duff, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting, Inc., sat down with Debbie Collins to learn more about this new advancement in Right party Contact technology.
PD – Quantrax has described this new solution as the greatest innovation since the predictive dialer. The predictive dialer has been around for a long time. Why do you say there has been a lack of innovation for so many years?
DC – The industry has made lots of progress in many areas. We’ve gone from automating the card system to some very powerful collection systems. But how many applications have truly leveraged the power of computers to address a major business need in undiscovered ways? Of course, we’ve said that our “intelligent software” was the last great invention. This is the latest!
PD – What major business need did you set out to address?
DC – Quickly obtaining contact with the right party is the most important thing we have to do in collections. Today, everyone uses powerful dialers, but have as many as 6 or 7 potential numbers per account. How does everyone do it? It’s a time consuming, manual process and we saw need to address the problem utilizing more sophisticated technology.
PD – What did Quantrax do?
DC – We allow the user to separate consumer (home, work and cell phone) and third party numbers. You specify the strategy for the order in which those numbers should be attempted. You tell the system how you divide the day into different “time windows”. Instead of working the consumer, you work the phone numbers. Each number will be attempted multiple times, at different times in the day. You will never have one number being attempted only during the morning, or some numbers not being attempted at all.
PD – Don’t agents usually place calls when they want to?
DC – Yes. Therein lays the problem. Agents are human and therefore fallible. When it comes to ensuring regulatory compliance, you just can’t rely on fallible humans to ensure process controls are followed and myriad federal, state and municipal regulations with respect to telephone communications are being adhered to.
While right party contact is just a small part of this piece of the regulatory puzzle, utilizing a system that deploys artificial intelligence tools in a rules driven manner is more effective, more compliant and saves time. There has to be a shift in the paradigm; where the system presents the right number to call at the right time of day, managing not only the best strategy for right party contact, but all of the regulatory issues relating to TCPA, state and local laws as well. No human collector will ever be able to manage this multi layer-hierarchy efficiently and always get it right.
PD – Since you mentioned the TCPA. What about calling cell phones?
DC – If the next number to be called is a cell phone, the system automatically moves the account into a different campaign based on the rules and logic defined. This happens dynamically in real time. This is the power of utilizing artificial intelligence.
PD – What type of productivity gains are you expecting?
DC – In the collection environment today, margins are thinner and thinner and everyone is trying squeeze margins ever place they can. Even calls that receive no answer wastes valuable time and resources. Utilizing an Intelligent Collection System can significantly reduce or eliminate wasted call attempts, and for the first time, ensure uniform attention to all of the potential numbers. Experts who have understood what we have done are optimistic about getting to a right party contact at least 30% faster than they presently do. This will translate to faster collections and potential increases of over 20% or more in gross collections.
PD – You think this is ground-breaking technology?
DC – Of course! When was the last time technology gave you a 30% gain in the most important area of collection operations, without adding a dime to your costs?