Using data analytics as a way to maximize efficiency and optimize performance is no longer a luxury to most companies, it’s absolutely required to survive and thrive. According to Bain & Company, businesses that employ data analytics are “five times more likely to make decisions much faster, three times more likely to be highly effective at executing decisions, and twice as likely to be top quartile performers.” MRS uses data analytics like many other companies, but what is different about MRS is the way the company employs data analytics successfully to create an environment of client and customer satisfaction.
By examining data patterns, MRS extracts meaningful facts and figures that inform changes to the business model. Data Scientist Gil Abanil says, “MRS contextualizes data and draws new insights from it in order to continuously improve understanding of day to day operations.”
MRS uses analytics to determine the best time to reach a customer that benefits the client as well. Being able to predict trends and behaviors allows the company to have better outcomes and greater services. Pouring over the data can lead to identifying new business opportunities that could have otherwise been overlooked. Abanil says, “The potential for improving customer experience, refining marketing strategies, and turning data into growth becomes endless and more intelligence based.”
Adopting analytical strategies has also allowed MRS to anticipate how to contact a customer, which customers to contact first, and the number of attempts that should be made before ceasing. These changes are major departures from other industry prebuilt techniques that launch random calls and make guesstimations that ultimately minimize customer satisfaction.
The use of data analytics allows MRS to solve problems rapidly, develop deft improvements, and maintain quality customer experience. In a service based industry, MRS understands the importance of not only meeting, but exceeding the needs of customer and client, alike. Abanil says, “The difference between a good contact center and a great one typically lies in a company’s ability to efficiently monitor and respond to key activities within its operations, predict future demand, and provide service elements to achieve the best outcomes.” MRS implements these small improvements regularly, exhibiting collection success.
Analytics will play a large role at MRS as the CFPB’s proposed rules around digital communications and call caps are implemented. Reaching the customer not just at the right time, but with the right medium, will become mission critical and virtually impossible without analytics in place.
The harnessing of data analytics allows MRS to excel in an ever changing technological landscape. Collection is no easy task, but by leveraging data analytics, MRS makes tactical innovations that benefit both clients and customers.
FCC’s Proposed Legislature and its Impact on the ARM Industry
Call blocking has been an important focus of the Federal Communications Commission, especially recently at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on June 12. The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act, or TRACED Act, approved in May by the Senate gives the FCC the power to enforce robocall rules.
However, despite ACA International advocacy, the Declaratory Ruling made by the committee does not take into account consumer desire to receive certain legitimate robocalls. The major concern of the ARM industry is that lawful calls will be caught in the call blocking net, preventing important information from reaching consumers.
Because MRS utilizes several multi-channel communication methods, the new ruling will not largely affect the company. The FCC’s ruling carries weight for the future legislation to be set forth concerning collection and other industries reliant on telephonic communication. The FCC, in collaboration with the telecommunications industry, has devised STIR/SHAKEN a national authentication system that will allow the carriers to identify when scammers are hiding their real numbers.
Chief Customer Officer Chris Repholz says, “We believe that STIR/SHAKEN is the right approach. Give the collection industry, and every other industry that contacts people by phone, the ability to register numbers that will enable the carriers to differentiate the legal and legitimate calls from the scammers.”
The FCC’s desire to target and eliminate bad actors is understandable, but businesses urge the organization to distinguish between legal and illegal calls. Before STIR/SHAKEN the amount of calls blocked was left up to phone carrier’s discretion. Chief Risk and Innovation Officer Michael Meyer says, “Carrier are never 100% accurate at identifying which calls are good and which are bad. STIR/SHAKEN functions as a license, an identification, so that these carriers don’t have to decide which calls to block. It’s validation to carriers to pass through the calls.”
MRS recognizes the impact that said legislation could have on the debt collection industry. Repholz says, “Debt collection is already a heavily regulated industry and compliance minded organizations like MRS take great care to call people compliantly and with restraint. Through telephony technology, we reach customers with offers that allow them to pay off balances that may be negatively affecting their credit score. Collection calls are legitimate business communications and we’d hate to see overly broad law-making that negatively impacts customers.”
In order to launch technology to block robocalls, phone companies will charge consumers. This introduces the troubling conundrum of a consumer having to specifically opt out of a hidden bill. Committee members questioned why such a proposed service wouldn’t be free to consumers.
MRS prioritizes customer experience and client goals. Compliance is strategy, results are continual, and innovation is principle. Regardless of any new legislature imposed on the ARM industry, the MRS way of business will not change.
Virtual Collection Agent Diversifies MRS Multi-channel Offerings
Chief Risk and Security Officer Michael Meyer is always looking to identify the newest technology to implement into MRS’s operations. Quickly, it became clear to him that voice recognition technology, like that used for Siri and Alexa, was at the heart of the future of all customer interactions. That belief, along with the speed of voice recognition software advancements, led to the birth of a virtual collection agent, who we’ve named Adam.
It took more than one try to get Adam right. First generation issues informed fixes for the future. MRS tried many solutions and found success with IBM Watson. MRS collaborated with IBM Watson, and together, the two worked to improve and implement Adam as an everyday agent.
Adam is a blend of AI and IVR. He learns every day. Meyer says, “Adam exists in an agile technology environment and we are always adding more intelligence and capabilities into him. We’re constantly finding more ways to make use of IBM Watson to help add more intelligence into every facet of Adam. It truly is a revolutionary technology. It allows us to reach a level of customer experience that is unheard of. That’s a huge win for all of our customers and clients.”
Adam greatly augments call handling. The AI is available after hours and can scale anywhere from 1 to 1,000 calls at once. Meyer says, “There’s a whole wide variety of people that agents have to talk to that end up not paying. Adam handles all of the people that know what they want to do. It saves agent time.”
Additionally, Adam cuts down wait time. The average waiting time for customers, sometimes reaching 1.5 minutes, was eliminated. From a compliance standpoint, Adam is exceptional. He does the same thing the same way every time. The implementation of Adam can remove human errors.
Adam’s ability to supplement MRS’s multi-channel offerings demonstrates the company’s endless thirst for innovation. Meyer says, “There’s this constant quest to improve and get better at MRS. Our culture of wanting to be at the edge of innovation and being able to rapidly implement new technology is unparalleled in our industry.” With the coming addition of two-way texting, Adam will have his own multi-channel abilities to communicate with customers the same as a human agent would.
The company’s dedication to excellence is perfectly illustrated through the revolutionary creation of Adam. MRS will continue to innovate, develop, and refine technology to benefit customers and clients.
Why self-service is so important
One of the biggest issues that the debt collection industry has always faced is the inability to reach customers. Missed calls and busy schedules make it difficult for many to pay off their debt, despite the desire to do so. Adding another twist to this already challenging process: the shift of communication preferences. From Baby Boomers to Generation Z, the majority of Americans would prefer to be reached via email or SMS text rather than a phone call.
At the end of 2016, MRS launched customer email communications. The following year, webchat and text went live. In the early months of 2018, MRS also launched a virtual collections agent called Adam. There is a website payment portal that customers may also choose to use. A phone call is not the easiest pathway for everyone so MRS pioneered many proprietary solutions to center around multi-channel communication. After launching this service, MRS has seen the impact of offering a variety of channels.
Over 3,500 payments have been collected from the multiple platforms including text, email, and online chat. MRS’s virtual agent Adam has collected over $800,000 with no human involvement. Additionally, the platform has fielded calls for over 20,000 customers. Multi-channel can also assist for call overflow and during closed hours so that MRS is available for whenever is most convenient for the customer.
MRS is dedicated to creating solutions that benefit clients and customers alike. Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Misty Carson says, “The MRS Team has invested heavily in technology, talent and resources to create disruption in the industry with new multi-channel communications strategies. We also ensure that we meet the rigor and demands of our industry and that all of our multi-channel solutions are fully compliant with the TCPA/FDCPA.”
The solutions that MRS develops in house pair well with the progressive communication approaches that clients take. The company strives to make the most compliant, user friendly, and integrative technology so that the customer has the freedom to choose which payment channel works best for them. Carson say, “Our industry is in the midst of evolving in ways geared towards communicating with customers on their terms, not ours.” MRS is certainly more than up to the task and continues to innovate for the customer and client.
MRS understands that making more convenient communication channels benefit all parties involved. Dedication to technological advancement and compliance excellence propel the company to innovate and create. Self service payment options are part of the future of debt collections and MRS seeks to make the evolution seamless for customer and client.
MRS is committed to integrity in business and fills the atmosphere with strong family values. Due to those ideals, as the holidays approach, MRS employees work together to raise money, food, and toys for charity.
Each year, MRS partners with the Jewish Family and Children’s Service and donates goods that benefit the entire community, regardless of faith. Business Process Analyst Jordan Miller says, “It is absolutely incredible to see how much generosity there is among our employees. These fantastic people take the time to go and purchase a gift for a local child or adult in need. Taking care of people is really at the core of our company values.” This year, MRS donated approximately 100 bags of food and over 120 toys.
While the MRS giving spirit is amplified during the holiday season, the company actively participates in philanthropic events year round. Employees volunteer and donate to the JFCS as well as Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Co-CEO Jeff Freedman says, “Making Strides is particularly important to us at MRS because not only do we have several employees that are breast cancer survivors but virtually all of our employees have someone they know that have died from breast cancer, have had breast cancer, or is fighting it right now. For Making Strides, we hold a number of different events throughout the year to raise money which culminates with the Making Strides walk that takes place at the end of October.”
Fundraising efforts for Making Strides include gift basket auctions, 50/50 raffles, and paying to dress down. Employees are active and committed to MRS’s multiple endeavors and over the past year, the company raised over $15,000, with a total exceeding $70,000 in the six years since starting this charitable process.
The debt collection industry often is given a bad name, but MRS stays focused, not on reputation, but what is important- giving back to the community. Freedman says, “Being philanthropic helps instill that sense of giving back to the entire organization and helps instill a sense of camaraderie as we all work toward a common goal. I think it is also important because too often our industry is mischaracterized; I think being able to show that we are not all the negative stereotypes that the media often portrays us to be is another important element as to why we do what we do.”
MRS remains dedicated to charitable endeavors and seeks to positively impact the surrounding community. Through commitment to business excellence and philanthropic efforts, MRS continues to be a trailblazer in the debt collections industry.
Charitable giving is an important core value at MRS, and one that gives us a great deal of joy. Every year around the holidays, we hold a food drive for a local charity to help those in need. This year, we gathered over 100 bags of food and donated them to the JFCS Betsy & Peter Fischer Food Pantries in Cherry Hill, NJ.
“I’m always inspired by the generosity of my co-workers,” said Jordan Miller, MRS’s coordinator of the food drive. “This is completely voluntary, so to accumulate over 100 bags of food for those in need says a lot about the MRS family. I’m really proud of how we continue to outdo ourselves every year!”
Michael Meyer, MRS’s compliance guru, who is responsible for Risk Management and Security for the organization, was named to Georgetown’s THE HOYA PROFESSIONAL 30, which honors graduate students for academic and professional achievement.
Meyer is currently enrolled in Georgetown’s graduate program, working on his Masters in Professional Services with a focus on Technology Management. He expects to complete this program in the Spring of 2019.
He currently holds the following certifications in IT Security: CISSP, CIPP/US, CIPM, FIP, CISM, CRVPM I & II and CISA.
More information about this program can be found at the link below.
In 2013, MRS BPO put on its walking shoes and joined with American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer organization to raise money for Breast Cancer research. Every year, Making Strides organizes walks throughout America to raise awareness and funds that save lives from breast cancer.
Since 2013, we have raised over $70,000 for Making Strides. This year, MRS reached a new fundraising high, generating over $15,000 at our New Jersey, Ohio and Alabama offices.
Our fundraising starts in the summer where we offer the opportunity to buy the right to dress casually through the month of October. Then in October, we get serious.
Throughout the month, the staff holds food and breast cancer bracelet
sales, and a 50/50 raffle that generate excitement and money. The grand finale is held on Halloween, which features employees in costumes, a pumpkin decorating contest, a work area decorating competition, and our very popular Gift Basket Auction where each department donates a gift basket for auction and winners are selected in a drawing. This year, lucky winners went home with baskets full of food, wine, home goods, a cake made of dollar bills and even a brand new Sony PS4 gaming unit. The lucky 50/50 winner claimed over $1,000! A group of MRS employees participated in the annual walk in Camden County, New Jersey, which was held on October 28th.
“We know that collections is a tough job, so we always try to do things that are fun and rewarding for the employees. From day one, our employees embraced this fund-raising project and they continue to outdo themselves each year,” remarked Regina Weir, Chief Personnel Officer, who first got MRS involved in Making Strides over six years ago.
MRS is an organization that places a very high premium on charitable giving and our October celebration always brings out the best in our employees. Their spirit, generosity and sense of humor continue to inspire us and make MRS a great place to work. To learn more about Making Strides for Breast Cancer, go to www.MakingStridesWalk.org.