Websites are an Essential Tool for Every Collection Agency
As a member of the Accounts Receivable Management (ARM) industry, I am always surprised that every collection agency and law firm does not at least have a basic website and a professional email address. Argue if you want, but if your email address ends with @gmail.com or @aol.com (perfectly fine for personal use) it raises red flags about how seriously you take your business.
There are many benefits to a collection agency or law firm having a professional website and we discuss 5 of the most important below:
1. Credibility & Authority
Having a professional website strongly helps develop credibility in the eyes of a consumer. Consumers searching for your collection agency online will immediately judge the quality of your company based on the quality of your website because it is often the consumer’s first and longest lasting impression of your company. If your website is outdated or worse, you don’t have one at all, that lack of credibility becomes another obstacle to overcome. Consumers visiting a website they believe to be credible are more likely to enter their credit card or banking information to make a payment.
2. Reputation Management
Your collection agency’s reputation can be deeply harmed by consumer reviews and other negative posts online. The first step toward taking control and creating a positive online reputation is representing yourself through a website, on social networks, and most importantly through search engine results. Developing a digital presence for your organization starts with creating a website that reflects the professionalism of your business. Actively participating in the social networks reflects your company’s understanding of the ever-changing online world. Search engine optimization and reputation management are invaluable for a small business that can be a constant target for negative comments and reviews like collection agencies. As a collection agency it is important to empower consumers by enabling them to give feedback directly to executives on your website. By giving consumers an alternative way to complain online situations may be resolved directly with the consumer rather than through the FTC or litigation.
3. Revenue & Payment Processing
The bottom line for doing anything in business is the ability to generate revenue. Your website should be working for you, collecting payments and directing consumers to options for making their payments. Although your collection agency may only collect a very small portion of their payments online, a driving factor to this historically low performance is the professional appearance and the security of the agency’s site. Consumers become nervous when they are directed to a 3rd party website to make their payment rather than putting their information into a secure form on the collection agency’s actual website. Agencies can avoid the liabilities associated with collecting payments online by using the right payment processing vendor that will manage sensitive information on their servers leaving your website free and clear from account data.
Sensitive data is most vulnerable when information is being passed back and forth between parties. To combat this threat many creditors and collection agencies send sensitive data in encrypted format followed by a separate email containing the password. This method is better than unencrypted emails, but still has considerable risks. Collection agencies can inexpensively reduce these risks by using 3rd party file transfer systems to create truly secure FTP accounts for clients and customers allowing them to securely access their information through either a FTP client or their secure browser interface.
5. Business Development Marketing
A website is one of the most valuable and least expensive marketing tools any small business can deploy. Creating a quality website provides your company with a sales representative that is available 24/7 to anyone searching the web. Your website can be a tool to collect payments, generate new business development opportunities, or even recruit new staff. The web site is powerful marketing tool that becomes more valuable as you develop other marketing campaigns around it, including search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and direct emailing.
Conclusions About Your Collection Agency
Representing your business online and proactively managing your digital reputation and credibility provides your business with a strong marketing foundation. This foundation can be used to find qualified staff, new business development opportunities, and even generate additional revenue through secure online payment collection.