Hi, I run a small debt collection agency based in the UK (there are 3 of us). We provide a debt collection service for small to medium sized businesses all over the country and we also have some overseas clients. Our clients usually experience difficulty in obtaining payment for their invoices and in these circumstances, they pass over their invoices for us to pursue on their behalf.
We require a database debt collection software package, preferably web based with a professional looking front end and a facility for clients to log in to their own area to check the position with accounts that they have passed to us for collection. Each client to be able to have their own username and password.
For our purposes, the software needs to be able to accept instructions by email from clients and we need to be able to do manual data entry when they give us instructions by fax or post.
The software will be a database system with various functions (sorry I am not entirely technically minded where programming is concerned so you will have to bear with me). We provide our clients with a simple debt recovery instruction form which has their client reference number on it (so that we can identify the client sending the details to us). (perhaps this could be incorporated on the website/software). This form gives us the basic details and includes the client name and reference number, their address and telephone number. It then gives the debtor's details, such as: debtor status (limited company, partnership or sole proprietor) the debtors address, telephone number, fax number, email address and contact name. It then gives the amount of the debt outstanding and if there are numerous invoices, we ask the client to supply a statement of account. The final piece of information that we ask the client for is what type of approach they require, soft, medium or hard.
When we receive the completed form, we (currently, manually) enter the data onto our database. We then apply charges to the account. This is in addition to the amount due on the invoice. There are two charges that we apply in accordance with UK legislation. The first charge is a late payment interest charge which is levied at a rate of 8% above the bank of England base rate (this obviously fluctuates so we need the facility to adjust the interest rate). The interest is calculated from the date that payment is due, until the date that we send our first letter to the debtor. Interest continues to accrue until the date that payment is received from the debtor, however, we need to be able to be flexible with this and usually, if the debtor pays straight away, we usually freeze the interest from the date that we sent our first letter.
The second charge that we apply is a compensation charge and we need to be flexible with this because the charge may not be applicable to all invoices (i.e. if there are 4 invoices with the same date, we would only apply 1 compensation charge, but if for example there are 4 invoices dated a month apart, each invoice would carry a compensation charge. The compensation depends on the amount of the invoice outstanding and is either £40, £70 or £100
We have a number of standard letters that we would need to be able to use in our debt collection process, so we would need a kind of 'letter template bank' so that we can allocate the appropriate letter depending on which part of the debt collection process that we are at. Once the appropriate letter is selected, the database would then populate it with the appropriate details.
So, I see that the database would have:
1. Set up account for each client and allocate a client reference number.
2. Once each client account is set up, we need the facility to accept instructions from the client and to register accounts (their customers who havent paid) onto the database under the clients name and send an automated email acknowledgement to the client that we have received their instructions and confirming the debtor reference number.
each debtor would be allocated a debtor reference number which would also refer to the client. For example, lets say that the client reference number for alpha logistics is A5576 and I was the operator dealing with the matter (my initials are CW) therefore our reference on the first letter would be perhaps, CW/A5576.001. (operators reference, client reference, debtors reference) When debtors call our offices, we need to be able to ask for their reference number and then input this into our system and this would then bring up the account details for us.
We then need the ability to record details of any phone call or letters received from the debtor, and the ability to make notes of any comments/offers of payment etc and including any payments they subsequently send (perhaps the facility to scan documents in to their case file). This could perhaps form part of the report for clients.
We also need the facility to record payments on a reducing balance if they are making payments by an agreed instalment plan. So if the debt owed is £900 and we agree to accept three instalments of £300, we need to be able to enter the payments as they arrive and once the payment is allocated, show the new balance outstanding on the debt. We need to be careful here as well as occasionally, the debtor's cheque will bounce and we would then have to correct the balance back until the matter is resolved.
3. We need the ability to either allocate a template letter to send our intial contact letter to the debtor or to be able to do a bespoke letter.
[url removed, login to view] the first letter is sent, we then need some kind of diary system to flag up when follow up letters or phone calls are required
Our current (normal system) is to send a first letter giving the debtor 7 days to respond. If we do not receive a response after the first 7 days, we send a second letter giving a further 7 days, if we still have not received a response after that time, we then set the matter down for a telephone call. At the telephone call stage, either we obtain a promise of payment immediately, or the debtor asks for time to pay and we come to an agreement with them or there is a genuine dispute in which case we take further instructions from our client and attempt to resolve the matter amicably, or the debtor tries to fob us off or ignore us. If is a case of the latter, we will usually recommend legal proceedings and we issue a claim in our local county court.
5. We need a reporting system so that when clients need an update, they can log in and look at the cases they have submitted to us and see where the case is up to and can read any messages that we have left for them.
6. we also need a facility to accept credit or debit card payments
7. we need to be able to send a standard letter to the debtor once the debt is paid, thanking them for their co-operation and confirming that the debt has now been paid in full. This would have to be a manual and not an automatic function. Once the debt is cleared, the operator could click a button and this would generate the letter to be sent to the debtor.
8. An invoice function to send an invoice for commission to the client on successful recovery.
OK I think thats covered most of it but I am open to suggestions also
Thanks - Colin