“Can’t I just text you?”…. asked our 14 year-old babysitter. It is not surprising she would ask us this question according to a recent survey by OpenMarket. When given the choice between being able only to text versus call on their mobile phone, a whopping 75 percent of millennials chose texting over talking. As younger generations grow-up with the technology of today, communication by text is becoming the preferred method. It turns out that both introverts and extroverts are apprehensive of phone calls these days. The reluctance to talk on the phone is born out of the fear that you will not be able to represent yourself well in a phone conversation, which causes stress especially in sensitive conversations about medical bills. Individuals today will happily online-chat away to avoid the dial-fright!
This is why three years ago, Americollect invested in our next channel of communication – Web Chats. We decided to provide a better patient experience by making it easier for patients to chat with Americollect online. The great thing about Web Chats is that we can still verify the identity of the patient with dual authentication along with following all the regulations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) in regards to all notifications.
By the end of 2018, we are trending to receive over 1,000 communications per month with patients. Currently just over 50% of our communications are promises to pay with simple questions on how to pay and/or arranging payment plans. We have collected an average of $47,000 per month over the last three months over Web Chats.
We are in the beginning stages of rolling this technology out to our early out clients as well to ensure the best patient experience as a 1st party operating in the name of the health system.
Below is a snap shot of a recent conversation clearing up a balance of $168.89.
[11:51 AM] Jody has joined the room.
[11:51 AM] Mary H has joined the room.
[11:51 AM] Mary H: Hello. My name is Mary. I will be happy to help you, today. One moment while I look up your account.
[11:51 AM] Jody: Ok
[11:51 AM] Mary H: What is the phone number we tried to reach you at?
[11:51 AM] Jody: XXX-XXX-XXXX
[11:52 AM] Mary H: What is our date of birth?
[11:51 AM] Jody: XX/XX/XXXX
[11:53 AM] Mary H: For future reference, your file number is XXXXX. Your current balance is $168.89. This is an attempt to collect a debt from a debt collection agency and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
[11:55 AM] Jody: Ok, what can I do to get this cleared up?
[11:56 AM] Mary H: You can set that payment up online right now at www.americollectpay.com. The following is your login information. They are case sensitive.
User ID: XXXXXX
[11:56 AM] Mary H: I will stay in chat in case you have questions about logging on.
[11:56 AM] Jody: Ok, I will do that now.
[11:57 AM] Mary H: 🙂
[11:57 AM] Jody: Will I be able to make payments? I won’t be able to pay the entire amount at once.
[11:59 AM] Mary H: You can certainly do that. The first payment option is payments of $56.30. Or, if you are able to pay half down of $84.45, then your payments would be $28.15 after that half down.
[12:00 PM] Jody: I made a $25 payment.
[12:01 PM] Mary H: This account is due to list on your credit file by 4/13/2018, so you do have some time to get it cleared up before it would list.
[12:01 PM] Jody: I will most certainly have it cleared long before that.
[12:01 PM] Mary H: Sounds good! 🙂 Is there anything else that I can help you with today?
[12:03 PM] Jody: Ok, thank you. You have been of great assistance and thank you for being patient with me getting this taken care of. Have a great day.
[12:04 PM] Mary H: You are so very welcome, Jody. You have a good day, as well. Thank you for taking the time to discuss your account today. I was happy to assist you with any questions or concerns you had. If you are in need of additional assistance, please feel free to contact me again via chat, or call my office at 888-682-0396, Monday – Friday 7:00am – 11:00pm, Saturday 8:00am – 5:00pm CST. For residents of Wisconsin: This collection agency is licensed by the Division of Banking in the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, www.wdfi.org
[12:05 PM] Jody has left the room.
This quick Web Chat conversation with the patient resulted in payment of our clients’ account, and the patient being able to take care of this bill when it works best for them, in a way that is easy for them to use. Up next on our channel of communication is solving for texting while staying compliant with the regulations!