Blog » 2016 » July » Workflow Management in Collections

Posted on Jul 28, 2016 11:08am PDT

While managing losses continues to be the priority and main objective of collections groups (as it is their reason for existing), it is no longer the only primary focus. Regulatory compliance and customer experience are now always front of mind and will continue to be balanced as a main objective for all organizations, which creates a landscape drastically different than a decade ago. This is not to indicate compliance and customer experience was previously not important, but the intensity of focus and scrutiny was undoubtedly less than it is today.

So what has really changed? Primarily, it has been a shift in the burden of proof when it comes to compliance. Previously, a lack of evidence indicating compliance violations was typically sufficient to achieve positive marks with regulators. However, with the creation of the CFPB and a renewed/enhanced focus on effective Compliance Management Systems, organizations are now expected to be able to prove (at any time) that they are in compliance with all regulatory requirements –– a very different proposition than in the past.

What is Regulatory Compliance and Customer Experience?

Regulatory compliance and customer experience means complying with (and proving compliance with at all times) all applicable state and federal laws by focusing on having the right procedures in place, effective quality control (ensuring procedures are being followed correctly and consistently), training employees on the right things, and ensuring that consumers have a positive and consistent experience when they interact with your organization – among many other things. This also means ensuring that your vendors are as committed to compliance as you are – and having the proper oversight in place to know at all times that they are in compliance with all requirements.

So if this requirement to proactively prove regulatory compliance is a relatively new, how do businesses ensure proof exists with every consumer interaction?

That’s where workflow management technology can be one of your greatest resources.

The Intersection Collections & Workflow Management

Workflow management technology provides businesses with a way of automating repetitive processes (either the full process or a part). It allows for structure to provide process consistency, tools to create embedded preventive controls, and guidance to ensure required information is captured in the system throughout the process. These benefits all combine to create an environment in which proving procedures were followed can be easily evidenced by utilizing data in the workflow management system. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it is flexible, allowing the business to alter the process as needs or requirements demand – rather than leaning on IT resources which can often be expensive and time consuming.

Workflow management technology can also help ensure agents are either operating within their authority, or directing consumers to the correct contact within your organization (e.g. debt settlement negotiations). Automation increases productivity as well, allowing agents to spend more time performing tasks according to their skills or workload capability – and allowing managers to have more intelligence as to where and how to assign work out.

Ultimately, investing the time in effective workflow management can allow businesses to make most effective use of their agents and free up resources currently earmarked for manual quality control and monitoring process to focus on handling more strategic objectives. And of course, effective workflow management can reduce the risk of regulatory fines and scrutiny.

Where Workflow Management Is Most Effective

Many processes can be enhanced by utilizing workflow management. Workflow management often requires organizations to simplify processes in order to put structure in place – which in most cases proves to be beneficial. Examples of processes where workflow management can be effective for collections include:

  • Cease and desist
  • Complaints and disputes
  • SCRA benefits requests
  • Account treatments/placements
  • Settlement negotiations
  • Deceased
  • Bankruptcy
  • Litigation
  • Repossession
  • Foreclosure

Conclusion

In summary, workflow management:

  • Enables more efficient and effective compliance (and proof of compliance) with regulatory requirements and internal policies
  • Allows for the business to be in control of making changes to process – rather than relying on IT
  • Gives agents greater structure, increasing consistency productivity
  • Frees up resources focused on manual quality control activities

For organizations that do not yet have workflow management, they can start by identifying where it would add value and conducting a cost-benefit analysis to determine if they can fund the initiative by achieving longer-term savings and efficiencies. For those that already have tools, now is a great time to review how they are being used and ensure they are being used as effectively and efficiently as possible.

For more information regarding the role of workflow management in collections, or to learn how we have helped implement workflow management for our clients, contact Bridgeforce online or call (610) 616-3106.