TrueAccord, an upstart debt collection agency that promises "fully automated debt recovery for businesses of all sizes," is using an API to make debt collection a smoother, less painful process for both creditors and debtors.
While debt collection is not a subject that most people like talking about, almost every business will at some point encounter a customer who fails to pay. So every year, companies spend billions of dollars trying to collect on debts. Vying for those billions are literally thousands of debt collection firms.
To stand out, TrueAccord turned to an API.
"As far as I know, we are the only collection agency in the market with such an advanced RESTful API, especially in that it allows our clients to follow the collection process in detail and continuously synchronize it with their systems," TrueAccord co-founder and CTO Nadav Samet told me.
The API's existence has helped TrueAccord win business from tech companies like oDesk, Kiva and WePay. "Having an API shows technology companies that we share their values about technology and user experience, which is why some of the prominent tech companies have chosen to use our services," Samet stated.
For companies that adopt TrueAccord's API, the benefits are significant. By integrating, Samet said that customers, which pay 33% per successful charge or less, can achieve a "completely automated 'set it and forget it' solution for account receivables." He explained:
By synchronizing the customer's account receivable system with ours, past-due invoices can be automatically uploaded to us, and the client can track the collection process. Setting up this API integration eliminates a lot of the technical problem involved in working with a third-party collection agency — there is no need to send spreadsheets back and forth and type in the collection reports back into to your system.
Such manual processes become particularly problematic at scale. Samet continued:
Our API allows the clients to automatically upload large amount of debts into our system, which would otherwise be tedious and error-prone. Each debt consists of fairly large amounts of detail (the identity of the person owing the money, the product or service in question, when the transaction has been made and so on) and due to the nature of the business, dealing with errors is expensive. Beyond the initial data entry, the API provides ways for clients to follow the collection life cycle.
Because of the efficiency gains that are possible with his company's API, Samet anticipates that the majority of the debt TrueAccord handles will be managed via its API within a year. He revealed that some of TrueAccord's largest customers are adopting its API so they can move away from manual processes.
A Better Experience for Everybody
Interestingly, TrueAccord isn't just trying to improve the experience for companies owed money. Instead, TrueAccord believes that its technology can make life better for debtors too. The company employs behavioral analytics and machine learning in its process to "build a detailed profile of the [debtor] and make an initial guess on their primary objection."
And when its API is used, TrueAccord can help its customers preserve their relationships with debtors whom they may still want to do business with. As Samet explained, a customer ID can be included when a debt is submitted. "This ... will make it extremely easy for the client to build a two-way synchronization between their accounting system and TrueAccord. This will allow the client to re-enable service for their customer right after their debt is paid off and provide a smooth and fast experience for the user."
Such a capability is straightforward from a technical perspective, but represents a significant step forward for an industry that is often criticized for the tactics some agencies use to collect debt. With this in mind, if TrueAccord's friendlier API-powered approach is successful, it could be a good thing for not just TrueAccord but the debt collection industry as a whole.