From Collector: The Robot Revolution

What role can virtual agents play in your accounts receivable management company?

5/14/2019 1:30 PM

NewsCollector Magazine
From Collector: The Robot Revolution

As collection agencies seek ways to interact with consumers, some are implementing programs with highly intelligent virtual agents.

These agents can interact with consumers in the same manner as human agents, handling a wide range of tasks based on agency preferences, Communications Consultant Tim Dressen reports in the May cover article for Collector magazine, “The Robot Revolution.”

“I want to have as many available methods of communication with the consumer as possible,” Bill Hopkinson, IFFCE, CCAE, president and CEO of CBC Inc. and VCS Inc., told Dressen. Hopkinson’s companies have used a virtual agent named Alex made by Quantrax for about a year.

“We are finding that more consumers—especially those who are younger—don’t want to speak by phone to a human agent they may have incorrectly prejudged as confrontational. So contacting us online and interacting with Alex is more appealing for them,” Hopkinson explained.

Whether a consumer simply needs an updated account balance or wishes to negotiate a payment plan, virtual agents can handle the job. The agency specifies the virtual agent’s functions and parameters, ensuring it follows company (and creditor client) policies.

Did you know a virtual agent can verify identifying information on a consumer, confirm account balances, accept attorney information or request bankruptcy details?

There are many common tasks a virtual agent can complete, but companies also have the option to tailor the functions of the agent to meet their needs.

For example, Dressen reports, if a company doesn’t want its virtual agent to handle certain accounts—those that are already in the legal process or have characteristics indicating they may present a high risk of default, for example—they can be locked down so the consumer is directed to a human collector.

Agencies have the option to use virtual agents across multiple communication channels, including inbound and/or outbound calling, website integration and SMS messaging.

“Right now, we’re seeing the strongest return on investment using virtual agents for inbound voice calls,” said Erin Stewart, collections lead for Interactions LLC, a provider of intelligent virtual assistants in the collection space and other industries. “On the web or SMS, you’ll get a few customers who will use it, but the phone is the most predominant in this industry.”

Read more on the ins and outs of using virtual agents in “The Robot Revolution.”

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