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Contacts Versus Contact Plans

This quick tour introduces you to using contacts and contact plans. When you have finished reading it, you will be more familiar with creating both contacts and contact plans and will be able to see the difference between them.

We will cover:

  • Single Contact - What is a Contact? Creating a New Contact. Components of a Contact. Default Settings for Contacts. Managing Contacts. Reloading Your WIP List. What's Next?
  • Contact Plans
  • - What is a Contact Plan? Creating a New Contact Plan. Events. Creating an Event. Using Contact Plans. Results of Contact Plans. Later On.
  • What's the Difference Between Contacts and Contact Plans?

Single Contact

What is a Contact? A contact is a single scheduled item, which alerts the collector or system that some task has to be performed on a specific account. The tasks help make up your collection strategy and are part of the sophisticated contact management system which forms the backbone of Collect!.

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Creating A New Contact

On the Debtor form select the CONTACTS tab. What you see next depends on whether or not the account already has contacts scheduled.

If this is the first contact to be scheduled on this account, a message will be displayed, "Contact not found. Create a new one?"


Prompt To Create A New Contact

Select the YES button. A fresh screen for a Contact will appear.


New Contact form

If there are already contacts listed for the account, they will appear in a list as follows.


List of Contacts Scheduled for an Account

You can select any one of the line items to view details of a contact scheduled for this account, regardless of whether it has been completed or not.

This list of contacts, in addition to your account Notes, forms the history of the account.

Select the NEW button on the Contact form or at the bottom of the list of Contacts. You will see the following screen.


New Contact form

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Components Of A Contact

Whether you have created a new contact where there previously was none, or you are adding to the list, the screen you see has the same components. Let's look at these different components one at a time and in detail.

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Debtor

This is the name of the Debtor as it appears on the account and is automatically pulled from the account each time you create a new contact.

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Due Date

The Due Date is the date you want the event to occur. Select the striped box to the right to make the Calendar appear. You can choose the date you want the event to occur by selecting the date from the calendar, otherwise the date is today's date (the same as your computer date).

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Repeat

A contact can be scheduled to repeat at regular intervals such as daily, weekly, monthly or not repeated at all.

Repeat occurs when you print a letter, post a promised payment or batch process previously scheduled contacts.

As of version CV11.6.2.9, you now have the choice of selecting First Day of the Month and Last Day of the Month as your frequency cycle.

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Max Intervals

This field is visible when you select a REPEAT value. Collect! uses it to determine how many times this Contact is repeated.

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Priority

The Priority code you enter indicates how important this contact is to you. You can enter a number from 1 to 99. Collect! understands that 99 is your top priority and 1 is your lowest. Typically, promises are higher priority than a review.

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Time

A contact can be scheduled to happen at a particular time of day. Collect! uses the 24 hour clock, i.e. 13:10 is actually 1:10 PM. When the clock on your computer matches the time on the contact, a box will pop up alerting the collector to go to the account.


Timed Contact in WIP List

This only works when you are working accounts through your WIP List.

TYPE

There are many types of contacts you can schedule, ranging from promises, letters, reviews and changes of status to credit bureau reports and posting a transaction. To see the full variety select the down arrow on the Type field.

CLASS

This is a user defined field.

AMOUNT

If this is a reminder of a promise to pay, enter the dollar value of the promise.

DESCRIPTION

Consider the Description field as a note to advise the collector or the system what is supposed to happen. If the contact type is a Letter, Status Code or some other item which can be automated, a down arrow will appear on the right of the field. If the type is Other or Review, or a type which has no pick list attached type, free form a little memo. On a review you might type a specific instruction to the collector.

ATTACHMENT

This is a large space into which you may enter a much larger memo or series of instructions. Typically, such information is relevant only to this one contact, otherwise it would appear in the notes to be available to anyone at any time.

DEFAULTS

The Defaults button leads you to global settings for your contact management. This is not the place to set information for this individual contact, but rather for the whole system.

COLLECTOR

The Collector field by default displays the operators ID as it appears on the account, however by selecting the down arrow, you can view the entire list of operators you have entered into the system and choose whomever you want to carry out this contact.

ASSIGNED BY

The Assigned by field displays the ID of the operator who is creating the contact, the individual who is currently signed into the system.

ORIGINATOR

In Collect!, you may move contacts from operator to operator many times. You may find it useful to know who actually initiated the contact. The Originator of the contact can differ from the Assigned by if you practice using the REPLY button discussed next.

REPLY

If you receive a contact in your task or WIP List, you may wish to forward it to another operator or answer the contact and send your answer back to the original operator. To do so, select the REPLY button and choose the operator you wish to send the contact to. We use the contacts and reply buttons in our office as a mini email system for information, which is account specific. When the designated operator receives the contact, they have all the relevant data at their fingertips.

CREATED DATE

The Created Date is the date of your computer setting on the day the contact was created.

CREATED TIME

The Created Time is the time of your computer setting when you are creating the contact.

IN PROGRESS

When the dot is in the center of the In Progress field, the contact has yet to be done. If it requires manual intervention, it will be in the collector's WIP List. If it is a background task, it will be carried out at the appropriate time.

COMPLETED

When the dot is in the center of the Completed field, the contact has been done - the letter printed, the phone call made or whatever the specific task was. The contact information will remain a part of the account information for your reference.

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Default Settings For Contacts

You have probably noticed that each time you click for a new contact, some fields are filled in for you. We made some decisions for you so that when you installed Collect!, you did not have to do quite as much work. To alter the defaults, select System from the top menu bar and then select Preferences, Plans and Reference Tables, WIP Options.


WIP Options form

On the lower right, you will see 'Default new contact'. You may select whatever type, priority, delay you wish. The objective of this setting is to save you time, so think carefully about what the most common scenario might be. Most of the time, you would want a review or phone call. Once you have made changes to these settings, select the SAVE AS DEFAULT button to keep your new settings ready for the next contact.

tip.gif Once you have saved the Operator Configuration for an operator, you can use the Copy Operator Configuration feature, to set the same settings for all operators in your system with the same User Level.

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Managing Your Contacts

What happens to the contacts now? The contacts you schedule are the tasks that appear in your collector's To Do List or Work In Progress. An important detail to remember is that only the tasks which require manual intervention and which have not been completed by your date selection will appear in the Work In Progress list. Collect! installs with logical default settings but you can alter them to suit your needs.

Here is an example of those default settings. Notice only Promises, Phone calls, Reviews and Other are ticked. These items do require an individual to perform an activity. Items like writing a note, changing the status and printing a letter are background tasks and are typically performed in a daily batch. Operators don't need to waste their time controlling these types of contacts, so we don't overload and clutter up their Work In Progress lists.


WIP Reload Filters with Contact Types to Load

There are other settings that help to further define what will appear in the collector's Work in Progress list. Use settings as displayed below to further control large lists by electing to display only the contacts which are due or past due.


Reload Work In Progress settings

The default settings selected in these forms assist greatly in controlling and effectively managing what could become a huge volume of unwieldy data. Collectors are able to handle priority tasks like promises first, followed closely by phone calls, which are more time sensitive than an account review.

Such elegant management ensures that accounts are followed up in an orderly and timely manner as depicted in this display of a Work in Progress list.

Click to view details.
Work In Progress To Do List

Don't be alarmed if one of your accounts does not appear in a Work in Progress list. A non appearance means one of a few things.

  • Either there is no future contact scheduled,
  • The scheduled contact is in the future and your settings indicate today and past only,
  • Or the contact type scheduled is of the variety which does not require manual intervention.

To verify this, select the CONTACTS tab on the Debtor form. If all the contacts are completed, or do not require manual intervention, you will probably want to set a review for some appropriate time in the future.

The only time every account you have listed may appear in the Work in Progress list is when you are just getting started and allocating the basic contact management, or you have not been getting your work done.

Careful management of contacts makes Collect! a pleasurable and time saving experience. Remember the WIP List is not a display of all accounts, rather a display of all contacts that require operator intervention and are either due to be tended or past due, depending on the settings you use.

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Reloading Your WIP

Once you have created account follow-ups or contacts, you may notice that even those which you know fall within the date and type parameters you have chosen do not display.

Don't worry, you must reload your WIP List to have them display. This delay or forcing of the display means that Collect! has one less task to deal with on the run. Select the RELOAD button on the WIP List form. This will display the Reload form.


Reload Work In Progress form.

If you simply wish to refresh your list, select the OK button.

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What's Next?

You have just learned how to create a single contact on an account, when and how it will operate and just what to expect from that contact. Once you have practiced creating contacts and have used them, you will be ready to automate your contact management. Learn how to make Collect! do the work for you. Single contacts are only the tip of the power in the Collect! contact management system.

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Contact Plans

Manually scheduling contacts is great, but there are many times when you would be entering the same contact over and over again, or when you need to enter several contacts to work the account properly. For those times, you want a contact plan to let Collect! do your work for you.

What is a Contact Plan? A contact plan is made up of single contacts (like we just learned about). When many contacts are used together as a single entity, it is called a Contact Plan. To avoid confusion, we refer to each of the components in a contact plan as an "event."

An Event can be a letter, review, change in status, posting of a transaction and many other types of events. An event may be scheduled to run immediately or at a predetermined date and time in the future. An event may be assigned to the operator you specify, have a specific priority or be scheduled to run only if a certain condition is met. The demonstration database in Collect! contains many samples of contact plans. To review the contact plans in the system, create a new debtor and try these examples. To run a contact plan, click your mouse on the Action button accessing the list of pre-set contact plans.

This sampling will give you an idea of the power available. As part of your system setup, we strongly recommend you create your own contact plans. These plans form a major part of your collection strategy and will unlikely be the same as our samples. Your collection strategy is what sets you apart and should be carefully set up.

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Creating A New Contact Plan

Select System menu from the top menu bar and the select Contact Management Settings, Contact Plans, View. Select the NEW button on the bottom of the screen. This is a template for us to use to create a new contact plan.


Contact Plan form

In the Code field, type a three digit code which will make sense to you and make a more complete description below in the Description field. Each contact plan can have security set up to allow only operators with specific access levels to use them. You might want to prevent a junior collector from closing an account, for instance.

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Events

Click your mouse on the Event bar and when prompted to create a new event, select YES. Remember, each event in a contact plan is the same as a single contact (as in the previous section) only now we are going to make several events work together.

Click to view details.
Event form

Notice the fields are very similar to the ones listed for single contacts:

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Type

There are many types of contacts you can schedule, ranging from promises, letters, reviews and changes of status to credit bureau reports and posting a transaction. To see the full variety, select the down arrow on the Type field.

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Description

Consider the Description field as a note to advise the collector or the system what is supposed to happen. If the contact type is a Letter, Status Code or some other item which can be automated, a down arrow will appear on the right of the field. If the type is Other or Review, or a type which has no pick list attached, type a little memo. On a Review, you might type a specific instruction to the collector.

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Assign To Account Operator

Dot this radio button if you want this event to be assigned to the operator whose ID appears on the account.

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Assign To Current Operator

Dot this radio button if you want this event to be assigned to the operator who is signed in and entering the information.

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Assign To Specific Operator

Dot this radio button if you want this event to be assigned to an operator in your list other than the account operator or the current operator.

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Prompt To Confirm Details

Some events, such as the date, may be variable. Select the most common setting and then put a check mark in this check box. This will give the user an opportunity to make choices when the contact plan is used.

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Delete Same Type Contacts

Should you get a response from the debtor, the letters already scheduled may become irrelevant. In which case, Collect! will remove any letters already scheduled, replacing them with your new choice.

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Delete Same Description Only

Further to deleting contacts of the same type, Collect! can monitor that only a contact which is identical in every way will be deleted so as to avoid duplication.

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Allow All Users To Delete

You can also ensure that any one who runs this plan will delete the contacts specified.

Careful!

This switch overrides access rights. That means ANY user level who runs this plan will delete same type contacts on the account, even if their access rights level does not allow editing or deleting contacts.

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Schedule If

The Schedule If concept is very powerful and allows you to have certain events to occur on an account, only if a specific condition is met.

An example might be requesting an event such as a phone call to occur:

Only if the debtor Owing (select the down arrow in the first field and select de.ow),

Is greater than, (click into the next pick list, and select [>],

Click into the third field and type a criteria [$100].

When this type of selection is used, the phone call will only be scheduled if the balance on the debtor account is more than $100. Conversely, you may wish to have a contact that sends a letter to the account if the balance is less than $100, thus reserving manpower for higher yield accounts and automating the rest.

tip.gif To compare two fields of the same data type, simply use the @fieldcode in the Value field.

For example: Schedule If: de.li < @de.ch

In this example, de.li is chosen from the pick list for the 'Schedule If' field. Less than [<] is chosen from the pick list for the 'If' field and @de.ch is entered manually in the Value field. This only works if both fields are the SAME DATA TYPE, for instance, both dates or both currency.

tip.gif Only use fields from the Debtor record!!

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Schedule If Security Level

You can also schedule events to trigger off the User Level of the Operator who owns the Debtor the plan is run on. Select os.ul from the Schedule If pick list and then for your criteria, put in the number of the User Level or range of numbers for User Levels.

Please refer to Help topic, Schedule If User Level for more information.

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Priority

The Priority code you enter indicates how important this contact is to you. You can enter a number from 1 to 99. Collect! understands that 99 is your top priority and 1 is your lowest. Typically promises are higher priority than a review.

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Schedule Immediately

The event with the schedule immediately flag on will not delay. The event will be scheduled now. In the case of a letter series, you probably want Letter 1 to go out right away.

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Delay Days

You may elect to delay an event by a specific period of time. In a letter series, you will want a second letter to be delayed a period of time according to the statutes of your area, or your own collection strategy.

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Day Of Month

You may wish to schedule a reminder letter to go out one week before the monthly payment is due. This date selection is absolute.

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Same Day Next Month

This is much the same as setting a specific day of month but will repeat the action for you.

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Timeless

The timeless switch is typically used either where the time of day is irrelevant or when the contact event is one which is a background task.

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Delay

You may elect to delay an event for a specific period of time. In the case of the caller getting a busy signal, they may wish to reschedule the call with a 15 minute delay.

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Time Of Day

An event can be scheduled to run at a specific time of day using the Collect! 24 hour clock. Simply type in the digits of the hour, a comma and the digits of the desired minutes.

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Repeat

A contact can be scheduled to repeat at regular intervals such as daily, weekly, monthly or not repeated at all. As of version CV11.6.2.9, the intervals of First Day of the Month and Last Day of the Month have been added.

Repeat occurs when you print a letter, post a promised payment or batch process previously scheduled contacts.

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Max Intervals

This field is visible when you select a REPEAT value. Collect! uses it to determine how many times this Contact is repeated.

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Creating An Event

Select the type of event you wish to use and using a combination of menu selection, mouse clicks and keystrokes, fill in the Event form. The sample below shows a first Dunning Letter in a series.

Click to view details.
Letter 1 Event

To create a second event select the NEW button at the bottom of the screen.


Letter 2 Event with Delay Days and Schedule If

In a single contact plan, you may wish to schedule a letter series, change the account status at appropriate intervals, schedule phone calls and so much more. Each event is one building block to a complete collection strategy.

This is a fairly typical contact plan with many events.


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Using Contact Plans

Contact plans can be versatile, time saving and powerful. While getting started, use your contact plans on one debtor at a time. On the Debtor form, during the course of working the account, type in the code for the plan you select, or click the Action button to select from your list of contact plans. You can also enter a contact plan code in the Client Settings to run a contact plan as the account is being entered.

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Results Of Contact Plans

The results of using contact plans are the same as using single contacts. Events occur. According to the settings in your Work in Progress list, many items will display as daily collector tasks. Other items, which do not need user intervention will be processed as part of the daily batch processes. Either way, the event will remain as a permanent record of the account history.

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Later On

Once you have gained a comfort zone, you can apply contact plans to a group of accounts in an incredibly fast batch process or when you import accounts into Collect!.

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What's The Difference Between A Contact And A Contact Plan

What is the difference between a contact plan and a contact? If this quick tour has been effective, you will know the answer to this, if not a prompt may help.

  • A contact is a single event or activity you schedule to happen to an account now or in the future.
  • A contact plan is a series or group of events of varying types you schedule as one block to happen to an account now and at pre-designated times in the future.

Go ahead and test your ideas on the Demonstration database. Regardless of your level of experience, protect yourself and each time you create a new contact plan, test it thoroughly before you run it live on your data.

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See Also

- Developing Collection Strategies
- Contact Plan Topics

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