Skip tracing is a profession where a lot of people claim expertise, but few people demonstrate it and live it as a culture. Social media and conference advertising bombards creditors and debt collection professionals claiming to have the “best” products and services, and it can be overwhelming to find the right one to fit your unique needs. There are some key criteria you should look at when selecting a skip tracing or employment verification service. This article discusses 5 of the top criteria you should consider when choosing a vendor that you can trust with your sensitive account data and to perform an integral function in your debt collection process.
5 – Accountability
Compliance and accountability are a major factor and must be evaluated in great detail before sharing sensitive information with a skip tracing or employment verification vendor. Look for a deep understanding of data security standards, and for the vendor to demonstrate their mastery of compliance practices related to protecting the information you provide to them. Compliance is the heart of the debt collection business and your skip tracing solution needs to have a deep understanding of how to navigate the unique regulatory requirements associated with providing these services.
Closely tied to compliance, accountability is another item that needs to be closely evaluated. Beyond demonstrating knowledge of compliance requirements, look for companies and individuals that are accountable for their actions. While acknowledging your potential vendor, look into the procedures their client servicing team follows. Ensure they have a resolution team that can handle any issue. Ask who the primary representative will be and who will handle your account when your primary contact is unavailable. Ultimately, you want to know who is accountable for your work and if that person is reliable.
4 – Customer Partnership
Skip tracing and employment verification services should be viewed as a partnership between the creditor and the vendor. Look for vendors that treat you as part of the process and are willing to listen to your feedback and adjust accordingly. Each creditor and debt buyer is unique and you want to find a provider that will help you to customize the service to your needs, not just sell you a one-size-fits-all program that does not address all of your needs.
As a partner (and not just another service provider) your skip tracers should be great problem solvers. They should understand how your business works and provide solutions to help you create efficiencies in your process. Talk with their client services team and ask detailed questions about data transfers, file formats, timing and other items that will have an effect on your bottom-line performance as well as the convenience of doing business with the vendor. You want to find a vendor that can customize processes and that you can work with to constantly improve.
3 – Innovation
Find service providers that are constantly innovating. You want to find a partner that is always looking at new ways of doing things and that wants to enhance the service they provide. Innovation is something that takes many different forms and could be related to technology, training, process improvements or the development of new complimentary products and services. Don’t just accept the status quo, identify vendors that have the self-motivation to improve themselves, and partner with them so you can work together toward achieving your mutual performance and efficiency goals.
Innovation is something that is mostly qualitative and can be difficult to evaluate. To identify the right vendor, ask them questions about problems they have faced recently and how they came to a solution. The right vendor will have examples of recent struggles and should be able to walk you through the process they used for working with the client to come to an acceptable result for everyone involved.
2 – Trust
One of the most important questions you need to ask yourself when selecting a skip tracing or employment verification service is, ‘Do I trust this person?’ If the answer is not an obvious ‘yes’, then you need to continue your vendor search. Creditors trust their skip tracing partners with highly sensitive data and if you do not feel that you can completely trust the person and the company, then you need to keep looking. You need to be comfortable with the people you are doing business with and have confidence that they are doing the right things on your behalf.
Trust is something that is built over time, and you may need to talk to colleagues and peers to get comfortable with a group before doing business with them. Request references from potential skip tracing vendors and ask around your personal network to learn more about the experiences other companies have had working with the vendor you are considering. Existing clients are a great resource, and so are your colleagues that may already be using the vendor’s services.
1 – Results
This list would not be complete without acknowledging the need for bottom-line performance results from your skip tracing vendors. All the other items we discussed are incredibly important to evaluate, but you also need the vendor to perform their core task, finding people and verifying their employment status. Without the performance results you need, you will never achieve your recovery goals.
Beyond just the results, look for those skip tracing vendors that are capable of balancing performance and compliance. Your skip tracing vendors should never be “cutting corners” to achieve results, but also need to make sure that being compliant does not stop you from meeting your performance goals. Skip tracing vendors should understand this balance and be ready to help you to navigate the performance and compliance equilibrium.
About the Author
Stephanie Clark is the CEO of VeriFacts, Inc a skip tracing and employment verification service based in Sterling, IL. Stephanie has been working in the skip tracing field for nearly 20 years and has a deep understanding of the service and the receivables management industry. She worked her way through all of the different roles in the company before taking the helm as CEO in 2016. Stephanie is considered an expert in the skip tracing and employment verification field and often participates in thought leadership in the receivables management space.