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Success Speaks: Exploring the Future of Payments Collections in Auto-Finance with SAFCO

billing experience in auto finance

When it comes to improving collections, there’s one simple question your organization should ask before embarking on any type of payments project: what does “customer service” mean to our customers?

For non-prime auto finance company SAFCO, the answer wasn’t to be found in expanded call centers or longer office hours. In fact, quite the opposite. In a recent webinar, SAFCO CFO Gary Stein joined ACI to discuss the future of collections and how SAFCO bolstered their payment options, improved collections and eased the payments experience for customers.


The Auto Finance Payments Landscape

SAFCO faced a problem that is far from unique in the collections business. Delinquencies were rising across the industry, and customers were moving away from outdated payment methods, such as checks, forcing SAFCO to add new payment options to their platform.

These additions were not without their challenges, as new payment options can often add complexity to the payments process – something that can frustrate customers and hinder collections. SAFCO understood this, as evidenced by Stein’s simple, yet all important declaration, “You want to make it easy to pay us.”


Building a Business Case

SAFCO’s goals revolved around increasing payment options, reducing operating expenses and improving the efficiency of their collections agents. Most of all, they knew they had to update their payment methodologies. “If you don’t have these (new) methodologies, people aren’t going to know how to pay you,” said Stein.

SAFCO satisfied their business case through a series of optimization efforts, including mobile payments and the implementation of ACI® Virtual Collection Agent™.


Customer Self-Service

When it comes to what “customer service” meant to SAFCO customers, Stein’s team realized that customers don’t want a lot of contact with the company. They want to be able to make their payments on their own time, with 24x7 availability.

Virtual Collection Agent helped make this a reality. Post-implementation, SAFCO noticed a drop in call center calls, while collections improved. Operating expenses were reduced due to increased efficiencies, which also allowed collections agents to focus on specific accounts, as opposed to being overburdened tracking many. What’s more, because Virtual Collection Agent is configurable, it allowed SAFCO to create their own rules and offer various deals to customers based upon their responses. For instance, if a customer wishes to make a partial payment, Virtual Collection Agent can be tailored to adjust their payment plan or make a complementary offer to ease the collection.


Utilizing the Entire Customer Journey

SAFCO was also savvy in how they leveraged their many customer touchpoints to add value or communicate new payment opportunities. “Any time we have their attention, we’re going to utilize that to let them know that there are easier and more effective ways to pay.”

In particular, SAFCO optimized their website to encourage people to make a payment online. They also used the standard customer invoice to advertise the different payment options now available. Finally, internal customer representatives shared this information with customers who had called in, not only helping to drive the self-service options but also to reduce these calls going forward.

For SAFCO, the future of collections is already occurring today. By delivering self-service options, optimizing their mobile methodologies and using the entire customer payments journey to their advantage, they have successfully driven more collections, reduced operating expenses and improved the customer experience for their entire customer base.


Learn more about the future of collections, including how new payments technology can make collections faster, simpler and more secure: view the on-demand webinar.

Find out more about ACI Virtual Collection Agent – an inline debt collection service that emulates the best collection agents, reducing stress while increasing overall consistency and efficiency in debt collection.