The Keys to Effective Payment Processing for Collections

Collection agencies, and various other industry-specific collection services, provide a vitally important service for small businesses across industries such as Financial Services, Healthcare, Property Management, Utilities, Telecommunications, and many, many more. Research has shown that they help small businesses grow and ultimately succeed by helping them remain viable through collecting rightfully owed debts in a timely fashion through an outside service. In order to do this (and remain profitable), the agencies must find consistent ways to collect those debts in an efficient and regulation-compliant manner. An organization may start out with one or two people who work directly with consumers to collect the debt, but as the business grows that company will undoubtedly at some point in the growth stage have to consider finding an outside vendor that offers omnichannel payment solutions, such as payment portals, IVR phone systems, mobile platforms and more. However, before you look at bringing on a payment processor or begin shopping for a true partner in payment collections, here are some important components to consider:

1. Flexibility and Uptime

Superior payment processing gives the debtors a wide selection of methods to pay their bills. Payment options can include payment portals for web payments, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) payment solutions for self-service phone payments, virtual terminals for card-not-present payment acceptance, virtual agents for automated negotiations, mobile payment solutions for people who prefer to use their mobile device and online billing for electronic bill presentment. In addition, you want payment processing that provides these services 24 hours a day. Payment processors that rely primarily on agents answering the phones will close up at the end of the day, thereby stopping the cash flow.

You want the consumers to be able to make their payments when it is convenient for them, no matter what the hour. Not only does this help your bottom line, but it also builds the brand in the minds of the consumers. Paying overdue bills is not fun, but if you make it as easy as possible, the consumer will be more likely to do it in a timely manner and without animosity toward the collecting service.

2. Security.

The security of the payment processor is of critical importance. When a collection service is processing payments from cards, web portals, mobile devices, or any other system, there needs to be an assurance that the entire system cannot be broken into or hacked by outsiders. Depending on how consumers pay and what they are paying for, a hacked system can reveal sensitive information such as financial records, bank account numbers, passwords, and even healthcare information. What should you look for? Here are two sets of standards a collection service should require in a payment processor:

  • PCI DSS. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is a proprietary information security standard for organizations that handle branded credit cards from the major card providers, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.
  •  HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information.

3. Compliance.

A critical element in selecting payment processing for collection services in compliance. Your agency must be Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) compliant. In addition, your company must also adhere to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) strict rules of how and when to contact the consumer. This is crucial because if the payment processing service behaves in a non-compliant manner, you are held responsible for hiring them, and therefore, you are subject to penalties and fines.

Finally, if your collection service is considering collecting for healthcare providers, the payment processor must be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A payment processor worth considering will have payment processing software that is PCI-DSS and HIPAA/ePHI compliant and is certified to the most current standards.

4. Customer support.

Whenever you are dealing with a supplier of any kind, including payment processing software, issues, and bumps in the road will happen. Make sure that the vendor you are considering offers you exceptional customer support. Do they have people available at all times to answer questions, specifically questions that relate to your account, rather than generic answers? How frequently will they provide updates? If they provide reports to you, are the reports they provide Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements 16 (SSAE 16) compliant? Great customer support is important to keep your business running.

Additionally, what kind of interface/support do they provide to the consumers; the people they are collecting payments from? Those people will have questions and issues as well as they use the system. Good payment processing software will have a customer support team for them and that team will have considered (a) the customer interface to make it easy and (b) what the consumer can do in case there is a problem or question. Remember, the goal is to make payments easy for the consumer. If the payment processing software annoys the consumers, the collection of payments becomes less likely and your revenue drops and collection costs increase. So make sure the provider gives good customer support to both you and the people making the payments.

As you are evaluating payment processing for your collection agency or service, make sure the payment solutions offered to provide payment flexibility, scalability, and compliance to allow you to collect the maximum debts owed in an efficient manner.

BillingTree has the latest A/R collections solutions and the best programs in order to help their clients grow their businesses easily, quickly and within full compliance.

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