It might seem obvious, but the easiest part of the collections process for a debtor should be paying their bill – But it isn’t always. People prefer different means of payment: Older generations still prefer sending checks in the mail, while Millennials tend to opt for electronic means of payment almost exclusively. When it comes to paying off debt to government entities, the same rules apply: It is critical to provide payment options that are comfortable and convenient for the debtor, depending on their unique preferences.
Allowing payment options via phone, and providing the debtor with the ability to pay using a debit card, credit card or ACH/echeck is important too. If your systems are set up correctly, you can avoid ever storing card numbers to avoid PCI certification requirements and concerns. And some government collection units provide payment kiosks in their offices, giving debtors the ability to make payments and avoid lines at the payment window or avoid contact with your staff.
But perhaps the most important payment option you can provide today is a website payment portal. Online options not only allow you to accept payments 24/7, but also:
- Provide convenient ways to capture updated addresses and phone numbers
- Get consent for contact via cell or email
- Enable automatic payment plan negotiations
Web payment portals are usually set up with a 2-key access for security reasons. A debtor accessing the portal can view their accounts, make a single payment, set up recurring payments, and may even be able to negotiate a payment plan. The payment portal also is an ideal way to get address, phone and email updates from the debtor and to seek consent on methods of contact. All of these advantages can help reduce your account representatives’ work load, and typically can be set up to perform real-time updates on your database.
With the tools, technology and knowledge available today, any ambitious government can set up a productive collections department that produces high revenues. A management team with the understanding or experience in private collections can maximize in-house collection efforts in a way that enables the department to provide an essential service to others, while becoming a key contributor to overall budgets. Only when the best in-house efforts have been exhausted does it then become cost-effective to pursue outsourcing. Follow these practices to ensure you’re doing all you can in-house today.
For more information on additional ways you can maximize your in-house collection efforts, read the full ebook 8 Ways Government Offices Collect More, and Avoid Unnecessary Outsourcing.
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