As eCommerce, online shopping, and social media use skyrockets across the country, it’s more important than ever that every collection agency rises to meet consumers where they already are—online. According to Pew Research Center, nearly 85% of Americans say they are online daily and over 30% say they are “almost constantly” online. So how do collection agencies meet the rising demand for less intrusive, easier to manage online payment options?
Engaging Consumers Online
Collection agencies have two major options for collecting payments online—one-time payment forms that consumers can fill out without authentication to quickly pay off an account, or a fully automated online self-service portal allowing consumers to check their account balances, make payments, or even set up recurring payments to pay off their accounts.
One-Time Payment Forms
One-time forms are quick, transparent, and allow consumers to easily make large payments to settle any outstanding balances on accounts. Typically, one-time payment forms do not require any additional account creation or authentication, allowing consumers a less stressful time to pay off any outstanding balances. However, these forms do not provide any additional means of account follow-up or confirmation that the entire debt is settled until confirmation is sent by the agency.
The more common of the two primary options, self-service portals allow consumers to make payments, view their remaining balances, set up recurring payments, or, in a rising number of cases, allow consumers to interact directly with the agency with any questions, concerns, or comments about their account.
Self-service portals require authentication to create an account and continue to access the portal . However, this allows for more flexibility and agency-created tools such as a virtual negotiator that would allow agencies to set up parameters in advance, should a consumer wish to negotiate down their overdue balance.
Perhaps the largest benefit to a self-service portal is the ability to comply with various regulations, such as Reg-E, which is a set of rules enforcing the Electronic Fund Transfer Act for debt collectors and other financial institutions. With a portal, agencies can ensure that Reg-E requirements are being met for signatures, future payment cancellations, and deposit notifications. Complying with these regulations ensures that all future payments or payment plans meet regulatory requirements .
For more advanced portals, a self-service option also allows consumers to opt-in and -out of electronic communications, complying with new Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) rules under Regulation F.
Provide A Trustworthy Service
While consumers are actively looking for more self-service options for payments, agency interactions, and more, it is important to ensure brand trustworthiness. As consumers get more comfortable making account payments online, the necessity of having a clean and transparent website is growing.
Almost every major internet browser (Chrome, Firefox, and Edge) has built-in security checks that limit what consumers can view. If your website is out of date, unsecure, or poorly hosted, consumers may not be able to find your online payment options and data security may be at risk. To meet the rising demand for consumer choice, collection agencies must retrofit or recreate their websites to be forward-facing, transparent, and trustworthy.
Improve Your Website
In addition to ensuring your website is hosted by a secure service, there are several additional steps to take to provide a safe and secure website consumers will trust to make a payment. Collection agencies should provide obvious and frequent call-to-action buttons throughout their site. These buttons provide not only navigation toward payment pages, consumer resources, and more but also catch the attention of consumers looking to quickly navigate toward their desired destination. Whether that is through home page navigation toward a payment portal, or reminders in bolded, colored fonts at the top of every page toward your payment options, agencies have many avenues to draw attention to the key aspects of their website.
To learn how to stay ahead of the game and boost your collection agency’s SEO value, reputation, and client base, visit brandingarc.com.
About Branding Arc
Located in Port Saint Lucie, FL, Branding Arc is a full-service marketing agency focused on providing website, marketing, and reputation management services to the receivables management and financial services industries. Our team is composed of communications and branding experts who listen to your vision, learn your story, and use that understanding to help each client position their brand, find new customers, and manage their online reputation. We customize each client engagement ranging from simple one-time projects to the outsourcing of your entire marketing department, adeptly handling creative direction, graphic design, programming, and project management. By closely monitoring the marketplace and competition, we can identify trends and leverage opportunities that drive bottom-line revenue for our clients.