Accounts Receivable Management Expert Q&A State of the Industry, Technology Challenges and Opportunities

Guest post by Nancy Jamison, President and Principal Analyst, Jamison Consulting

Accounts Receivable Management (ARM) is a complex vertical that’s greatly benefitted from technologies such as blended dialing, call recording, and content management. With the economic downturn and an increasingly complex regulatory environment, the ARM industry is facing both new challenges and new opportunities. To get more insight into today’s ARM landscape I turned to two debt collection technology experts at unified IP business communications solutions provider, Interactive Intelligence: Bobbi Chester, solutions marketing manager for ARM, and Mark LaBoyteaux, manager of strategic accounts for ARM.

NJ: Accounts receivable management (ARM) is a lot more than simply agents calling to collect money. What activities comprise the ARM industry?

BC & ML: The ARM industry includes those directly collecting on assets, third-party agencies, collection law firms, and debt buyers that span a variety of industries. While credit card companies are commonly involved in debt collection, healthcare, utilities, telecommunications and education (student loans) also comprise a large segment of the industry.

NJ: What are the biggest challenges currently facing the ARM industry?

BC & ML: Legislative and regulatory compliance issues continue to be a big challenge for the ARM industry. These issues have been heightened by the weakened economy, which has led to more people carrying debt who are either unwilling or unable to pay. The ARM industry faces a constant battle to provide both good service and achieve financial goals, all while operating according to consumer protection laws and adapting to changing consumer behaviors.

For example, in 2010 Congress passed the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Subsequently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was formed to help protect consumers and oversee the financial services industry. While the CFPB’s chosen director, Richard Cordray, has yet to be confirmed, it’s actively laying the legislative groundwork that will impact the ARM industry, and we still don’t yet know to what extent.

NJ: How are ARM firms using new technologies to address compliance issues?

BC & ML: Real-time speech analytics is a technology that’s proving very effective in helping ARM firms adhere to compliance requirements. Unlike post-call or historical analytics, real-time speech analytics is the only way to guarantee that both client compliance requirements and those set by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) are met. Real-time speech analytics applications work by using sophisticated algorithms to identify pre-determined keywords and phrases spoken by the agent and caller. When keywords and phrases are spotted, the application sends an alert to a supervisor who can then listen in on the call, “whisper” coach, or intervene. In this way, corrective action can be taken while the interaction is occurring, thus guaranteeing compliance.

Another technology that’s effective for addressing compliance requirements is business process automation. This is especially useful in scenarios impacted by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which was enacted by Congress to protect the privacy of consumers through unsolicited, automated phone calls made by telemarketers. The TCPA prohibits auto-dialers and artificial or pre-recorded voices to be used when calling cell phones without the called party’s express consent.
In these scenarios, business process automation applications can be used to create workflows that pull debtor contact information from a database and deliver it to an agent’s desktop computer. The agent can then dial cell phones manually.

NJ: As legislation changes are made, what new or existing technologies will help ARM firms achieve their goals?

BC & ML: One example can be found in the student loan segment using text messaging. Most college students rely almost exclusively on their mobile phones for communication, particularly text messaging. Because of this, using text messaging for payment reminders, and even offering payment methods via a mobile device, could be a very effective way to collect on student debts.

About Jamison Consulting
Nancy Jamison, President and Principal Analyst of Jamison Consulting, has over 30 years of industry analyst and brand manager experience in the contact center and enterprise communications markets. She applies her broad industry knowledge and expertise in marketing to help clients develop and deliver solutions from a tactical and strategic perspective. Jamison Consulting is an independent industry analyst and consulting firm that provides in-depth market research, analysis, and insight to clients in the areas of unified communications, speech technologies, contact centers, and related emerging areas. Ms. Jamison can be reached at 650-795-0116; on Twit...@NancyJami, nan...@jamison-consulting.com; or on the Web at www.jamison-consulting.com.