For collection agencies, consider this the equivalent of an annual physical. A chance to take the pulse of the industry and use it to see how their agency stacks up against the industry. Are the things that keep them awake at night the same things that keep others awake, too?
BillingTree is looking for collection agencies to participate in its fourth annual Operations and Technology Survey. There is no cost to participate and agencies who partake in the survey will receive a complimentary copy of the full report before the results are released to the public.
Past surveys have illustrated the resilience of the paper check compared to other forms of payment, and the growth of smaller collection agencies, at the expense of larger shops, said Dave Yohe, vice president of marketing for BillingTree.
“There will probably come a day where the concept of writing out a piece of paper and handing it in will seem bizarre,” Yohe said. “But to people like baby boomers, this is how they make their payments.”
The number of survey respondents who work at or own collection agencies with 1-9 agents or seats has grown to 31% in 2015, from 20% in 2013, while the number of larger agencies – with 100 or more seats – has declined to 19%, from 30% in the past two years.
Credit and debit card payments are the most common forms of payment accepted at collection agencies and the most common method of payment made by consumers, according to last year’s survey. Paper checks are the second-most common form and method of payment.
The survey also aims to identify emerging trends to provide the industry with a spotlight into what’s working best.
“Is someone out there willing to push the envelope and follow consumers on Twitter or use social media like Facebook to make subtle communications,” Yohe said. “How millennials are changing as they grow older and how an aging population is adapting. How the economy is impacting collections.”
Yohe is also hopeful that this year’s survey will shed some light on alternative payments that agencies may be accepting, including HSA and FSA accounts or payment portals like PayPal.
“Agencies should want to accept payments by whatever means the customer has access to cash,” Yohe said.
But not all the indicators highlighted by the survey can be positive, which can be just as important to collection agencies, Yohe said.
“If something is telling you that you’re heading for a speeding train and you have the time to make the changes, the survey can provide a glimpse into what could happen,” Yohe said.