Collection Agencies Employ Virtual Spanish-Speaking Agents To Increase Customer Service And Boost Payments

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Agents speak many languages and appearance can be customized

This type of connection can be made more probable through the use of a virtual agent, especially one that speaks the consumer's language.

With record numbers of consumers expected to delay or default on payments of debt, collection agencies have put on a new web-based "face" to improve customer service and try to increase payments received.

When an account becomes overdue, a borrower may need help to negotiate and manage the account to a favorable outcome. Simple Web sites can be difficult to navigate, are largely impersonal and can frustrate consumers who might want to make a payment online. "Often, a personal or emotional connection is all that is needed to turn a potentially adversarial encounter into a mutually-beneficial negotiation," said Matthew Hill, President of The InterProse Corporation. "This type of connection can be made more probable through the use of a virtual agent, especially one that speaks the consumer's language." According to Hill, studies show nearly 90 percent of debtors would prefer an online agent to talking with a live collector.
The InterProse Corporation, which introduced its Ammina™ Virtual Agent in 2007, recently added Spanish to the program's ability. The Ammina system allows any company with a web presence to collect delinquent accounts, sell products and services, provide customer service and offer technical support that is both intelligent and friendly. An animated character, called an Avatar, can converse with customers and point them quickly to the solution they need, based on a decision tree detailing a list of possible questions they might ask.

Tom Gillespie, President of ACCESS Receivables Management in Towson, Maryland, implemented the Virtual Agent in 2008 to improve collections for his clients in the insurance, education, commercial and medical industries. Since then, he has noticed a substantial increase in online payments.

"We are receiving 10-12 percent of our total payments through the Web site versus 2-3 percent before virtual agent, "said Gillespie. "Sixty percent of the people going to the site make a payment versus a 30 percent global Internet rate of success." ACCESS added the Spanish-speaking capability in November 2008 and with the improved communication have already noticed a higher success rate in serving Spanish-speaking individuals.

The Spanish-speaking virtual agent fills a human resources need for Key Financial Services of Madison, Wisconsin. Says Bryan Cook, "I am from Texas but my business is based in Wisconsin. It is clear, even in the upper Midwest, that having the ability to manage your Spanish-speaking customers is critical. What is also apparent is the shortage of qualified Spanish-speaking employees in the region."

Cook has been presenting the Virtual Agent to his prospective clients as a solution for healthcare providers, government agencies, municipalities, public utilities and Internet retailers. "The Virtual Agent was originally developed as a receivables management tool but it doesn't take much vision to see how it could be easily adapted to assist with other critical business functions," said Cook.

Companies using the Ammina system can request that InterProse program the system for any variety of languages, including French, Russian, German, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Swedish, Chinese, Dutch, Polish, Turkish, Japanese and Korean. Consumers encountering the Avatar can choose a language from a drop down list.

Ammina™ Virtual Agent is built on a robust accounts receivables and CRM platform, WebAR®. WebAR is a SaaS (Software as a Service) Internet-based multi-function accounts receivable management and collection system platform.

The InterProse Corporation, located in Vancouver, Washington, is an accounts receivable solutions provider offering web-hosted software solutions for debt collection, healthcare, retail, government, utilities and their third party partners. For more information contact Matthew Hill or visit http://interprose.com/products/webar/virtual

Contact:
Matthew Hill, EVP Sales & Marketing
The InterProse Corporation
(360) 604-3531 x222
http://interprose.com

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Matthew Hill