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How To Use Contact Plans

This document will help you begin to use Contact Plans to control and manage your Contacts.

What Is A Contact Plan?

Manually scheduling contacts is great, but there are many times when you would have to enter the same contact over and over again because it is a repeating schedule. Other times you may need to enter several contacts to work the account properly. For instance, perhaps a letter, a phone call and a review are necessary. When you find that you are repeatedly entering the same contact, or scheduling multiple contacts to perform the work you need done, let Collect! do your work for you with a Contact Plan.

A Contact Plan is made up of single contacts or events. When many contacts are used together as a single entity, it is called a Contact Plan. Each component in a Contact Plan is called an Event.

* An Event can be a letter, a review, a change in status, posting 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 an operator you specify
- may have a specific priority
- may be scheduled to run only if a certain condition is met

The Demonstration database in Collect! contains many samples of contact plans. We will use some of these in the exercises in this document.

tip.gif It is assumed that you meet the following requirements. They are necessary in order to benefit fully from the information in this topic.

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Requirements

- Review help on Contacts, Events and Schedule Next Contact
- Review help on Reports and Letters
- Plan a Collection Strategy
- Setup Clients. Debtors and Operators

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System Menu

Contact plans are found by pulling down the System menu and choosing Contact Management Settings. A submenu offers you the selections -- View Contact Plans, Import Contact Plan and Export Contact Plan.

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View Contact Plans

When you choose View Contact Plans, a list of all Contact Plans in Collect! will be displayed. Buttons on the Contact Plan list allow you to create a New plan, Edit an existing one from the list, or Delete a plan from the list.

* You can also highlight a plan and press F5 to display its Contact Plan form.

* Or, you can press F3 to open a new, blank Contact Plan form.

Examine several of the existing plans to get a feel for how they work.

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Import/Export Contact Plan

You can also import Contact Plans from other databases or from technical support documentation that Comtech Systems sends you.

You can export Contact Plans in a similar fashion. This is often the best way to send Comtech Systems details of a problem you are having with the functioning of your Contact Plan.

Please refer to the Help topics - How To Import A Contact Plan and How To Export A Contact Plan.

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Contact Plan Events

Contact Plans are composed of events, as described above. Select an existing plan and click on one of the events listed. The Event form will open and you can examine the settings that are possible for each Event in a Contact Plan. Press F1 from the Event form for an explanation of the settings on the Event form. You can also access information on Contact Plans by pressing F1 from the Contact Plan form.

tip.gif When you are viewing a Contact Plan form, you can press the record navigation buttons: [ << ] BACK , [ >> ] FORWARD to view other plans in Collect!'s list of Contact Plans. Also, when you are viewing the Events form for a particular plan, you can use the record navigation buttons to scroll through all the Events in the Contact Plan you are viewing.

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Design Or Modify A Contact Plan

You can print all the details of a particular Contact Plan and all of its Events by pulling down the Print menu. Choose Reports and Letters, then choose Quick Print. Choose the destination for your output, for instance, screen or printer. Choose Print. When prompted to include details, choose "Yes".

This will print a Contact Plan report for the plan you are viewing, including all of the settings for each of its Events. This can be used to examine a plan in detail and figure out the settings you would like for your own plan. If you print this to the printer, you can compare the settings for a few plans and jot down changes. All of the settings are labeled in the report so you will know exactly what you are setting as you draft your own strategy into a Contact Plan.

You can create a new Contact Plan and apply your settings to it, adding events as needed to complete the plan.

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Select A Contact Plan For A Debtor

tip.gif For these exercises, please sign into Collect! as operator OWN. When you choose a Debtor for one of the instructions, check the upper right hand corner of the Debtor form. The Operator field should read OWN. This way, your results should match the results that are described in the examples.

Pull down the Browse menu and choose Active Debtors. Then, open a Debtor form by pressing F5. Click the Action button or press F2 when you are in the Action field. The list of Contact plans pops up. Choose one that sends a letter or schedules a phone call and press the Enter key. Collect! runs the Contact Plan behind the scenes, scheduling Contacts and performing other tasks set in the Contact Plan and its Events.

Select the Contacts tab. The list of this Debtor's contacts is displayed. Notice that the new contacts have been added to this list.

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Work In Progress

Go to the Main Menu and choose Work In Progress. The Contacts scheduled in the Contact Plan to occur immediately will now appear in your To Do list or in the list of the appropriate operator. Events scheduled in the future, such as reviews, will appear in Work In Progress on future dates as setup in the Contact Plan and displayed in the Debtor's contacts after the Contact Plan is run.

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Batch Processing

You can also run Contact plans on batches of accounts. You can batch accounts by any criteria you choose. Use the Tools Menu Batch Processing command for more information.

See Also:

- Contacts Versus Contact Plans
- How To Design New Contact Plans
- How Collect! Executes Contact Plans Internally
- How To Manage Contacts
- Batch Processing
- How To Import A Contact Plan
- How To Export A Contact Plan

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Contact Plan Samples

Quite a number of sample contact plans can be found in the Demodb database that ships with Collect! As described above, it's easy to change existing plans and add new ones to suit your requirements. The list below introduces some basic predefined Contact Plans.

tip.gif The predesigned Contact Plans are only found in the Demodb database.

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If You Would Like To Copy Contact Plans

If you would like to copy some of these Contact Plans into your Masterdb database:

1. At the Main Menu, pull down the System menu and choose Contact Management Settings.

2. Then select View Contact Plans.

3. From the list that is displayed, use the arrow keys to locate and highlight the Contact Plan you would like to copy.

4. Select Edit from the top menu bar and then select Copy from the drop-down choices. You will be notified that your Contact Plan has been copied to the Clipboard.

tip.gif To copy additional Contact Plans, use the arrow keys to highlight them. Repeat step 4. You will be notified that other items are on the Clipboard. Choose "No" to add this item to the Clipboard contents.

5. Click OK to close the Contact Plans list. Choose Quit at the Main Menu to exit from your Demodb database.

5. At the Welcome to Collect! screen, switch to your Masterdb database. The Database to Open field will now display "MASTERDB."

6. Repeat steps 1 and 2.

7. With the list of Contact Plans displayed, pull down the Edit menu and choose Paste.

8. Check the Contact Plan(s) you copied to make sure it has all the information of the original and all the Events listed.

See Also:

- How To Import A Contact Plan
- How To Export A Contact Plan

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Contact Plan And Event Settings

tip.gif Only settings that are switched ON are listed below. You can view these Contact Plans as described above under the heading "View Contact Plans.".

tip.gif You will find it most helpful if you open each Contact Plan as it is being discussed and examine the settings that are mentioned. Pull down the System Menu, choose Contact Management Settings, Contact Plans and then choose View. Look for each plan by its Code.

Press F1 on the Contact Plan form and the Event form for field level help and details.

*** PLANS IN THE DEMONSTRATION DATABASE MAY NOT HAVE ***

EXACTLY THE SAME SETTINGS AS THESE PLANS

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New Business

This Contact Plan manages new accounts. It is made up of a Contact Plan with five events. After an initial letter, a phone call is made. This is followed by two more letters at intervals set in "Delay Days" in the Event form. The events are scheduled and will appear in the Work In Progress list of the account operator on the days predetermined by the Contact Plan.

On the days that letters are to be sent, they will be included automatically in batch process letters for that day.

On the Contact Plan form, the following information is setup:

Code: NEW

Description: New Business

Delete all pending contacts

The five Events for NEW are as follows:

1. This Event sets the Debtor status to NEW.

Type: Status

Description: NEW

Assign to account operator

Schedule immediately

Timeless

2. This Event sends the first Letter.

Type: Letter

Description: Series 1 - Letter 1

Assign to account operator

Schedule immediately

Priority: 10

Timeless

3. This Event schedules a phone call after 3 days.

Type: Phone

Description: Home

Assign to account operator

Delay days: Yes ......... Days: 3

Priority: 30

Timeless

4. This Event sends a second letter when 30 days have lapsed.

Type: Letter

Description: Series 1 - No Response To Letter 1

Assign to account operator

Delay days: Yes ........ Days: 30

Priority: 20

Timeless

5. This Event sends a third letter when 60 days have lapsed.

Type: Letter

Description: Series 1 - No Response - Threat of Action

Assign to account operator

Delay days: Yes ........ Days: 60

Priority: 30

Timeless

tip.gif The Days in "Delay days" are counted from the day the Contact Plan is run. So this Contact Plan has two events that happen immediately, a status change and a letter. Counting from this date, another Event is 3 days later, one 30 days later and one 60 days later - all counted from the same beginning date - the first day the Contact Plan is run.

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Close File

This Contact Plan will close an account and note that it has been closed. It can be used with another plan that sets the conditions for closing files. For instance, if an account is paid in full, the account could be closed automatically.

tip.gif See the topic How To Design New Contact Plans where a Paid In Full Contact Plan is designed using this idea.

On the Contact Plan form, the following information is setup:

Code: CLO

Description: Close File

Delete all pending contacts

The two Events for CLO are as follows:

1. This Event closes the file.

Type: Close

Assign to account operator

Schedule immediately

Timeless

2. This Event writes a note the Debtor's record.

Type: Note

Description: File closed

Assign to account operator

Schedule immediately

Timeless

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Call In Fifteen Minutes

This Contact Plan schedules two events - one, a phone call in fifteen minutes and the other, a note, in case of a busy signal.

On the Contact Plan form, the following information is setup:

Code: C0

Description: Call In 15 Minutes

The two Events in C0 are as follows:

1. This Event schedules a phone call in 15 minutes.

Type: Phone

Description: Home

Assign to account operator

Schedule immediately

Priority: 90

Delay: Yes ...... Minutes: 15

Timeless

2. This Event writes a Note to the Debtor record.

Type: Note

Description: Busy, call again in 15 minutes

Assign to account operator

Schedule immediately

Timeless

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Send A Letter

This Contact Plan schedules a letter to be sent. Then it schedules a review to check whether a response was received.

On the Contact Plan form, the following information is setup:

Code: L1

Description: Letter 1 - Today

The two Events in L1 are as follows:

1. This Events queues a letter in the print batch.

Type: Letter

Description: Series 3 - Letter 1

Assign to account operator

Schedule immediately

Prompt to confirm details

Delete same type contacts

Timeless

2. This Event schedules a review in 14 days.

Type: Review

Description: Letter sent recently. Any response?

Assign to account operator

Delay Days: Yes ...... Days: 14

Priority: 25

Prompt to confirm details

Delete same type contacts

Same description only

Timeless

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Review A File

This Contact Plan schedules a file review.

On the Contact Plan form, the following information is setup:

Code: REV

Description: Review

The single Event in REV is as follows:

This Event schedules a review.

Type: Review

Description: Review file...

Assign to account operator

Schedule immediately

Priority: 30

Prompt to confirm details

Delete same type contacts

Timeless

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Examples Using Contact Plans

Now, let's try a few if these sample Contact plans.

*** IMPORTANT *** For these exercises, please sign into Collect! as operator OWN. When you choose a Debtor for one of the instructions, check the upper right hand corner of the Debtor form. The Operator field should read OWN. This way, your results should match the results that are described in the examples.

tip.gif The following examples assume you are on a Debtor record. If you are not on a Debtor record, pull down the Browse menu, choose Active Debtors and press F5, or click on the line item, to open a Debtor.

Please press F1 for help regarding the Schedule Next Contact form which is mentioned in a few of these examples. It is advised that you do not type details into this form or press the buttons on it until you know what they are for.

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Scheduling Letters To New Business

1. Either press F2 on the Action field, click your mouse, or press the Action button.

2. Type NEW in the Action field. Collect! quickly performs some actions "behind the scenes."

3. Select the Contacts tab on the Debtor form. Notice that several new letters and a phone call are entered in this Debtor's Contact list. Notice the dates. You will see that they correspond to the Delay Days that were set in the NEW BUSINESS Contact Plan described above. These contacts will appear in the account operator's To Do list on the days that they are scheduled.

Collect! has automatically scheduled all the appropriate contacts for this Contact Plan. You can see how this speeds up data entry and minimizes errors. Contact Plans provide a consistent, timely contact strategy.

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Scheduling A Call

1. Either press F2 on the Action field, click your mouse, or press Enter on the Action button.

2. Type the letter C and press Enter. The Schedule Next Contact form opens. This is because the "Prompt to confirm details" switch is ON in the Event form for the Contact Plan whose Code is C.

tip.gif You can easily verify this by opening the Contact Plan list. (Pull down System menu, choose Contact Management Settings, Contact Plans, View.) Look for Code 'C' - Prompt to plan call. Open this Contact Plan and click on the Event. You will now see that "Prompt to confirm details" is checked. Whenever this is checked in an Event for a particular Contact Plan, the Schedule Next Contact form will open when you type that Contact Plan's code into the Action field on the Debtor form.

tip.gif Find help on the Schedule Next Contact form by pressing F1. There you will find details about the options and choices you have when this form is displayed.

3. Fill in the details of the call you want to schedule. Select the Contacts tab and you will see that the call has been added to the contacts list.

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Scheduling A Letter

1. Either press F2 on the Action field, click your mouse, or press Enter on the Action button.

2. Type L1 and press Enter.

tip.gif If you refer back to the details of the SEND A LETTER Contact Plan described above, you will notice that this Contact Plan also has an Event with "Prompt to confirm details" switched ON. Therefore, the Schedule Next Contact form will open.

3. The letter will be printed in the daily letter batch.

tip.gif Find help on the Schedule Next Contact form by pressing F1. There you will find details about the options and choices you have when this form is displayed.

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Scheduling A Review

1. Either press F2 on the Action field, click your mouse, or press Enter on the Action button.

2. Type REV and press Enter.

3. When the Schedule Next Contact form displays, fill in the description of the review you want to schedule and it will be added to the Debtor's contacts list.

tip.gif You will find more help by pressing F1 in the Contact Plan form and also in the Event form.

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Summary

This article barely skims the surface of the possibilities available to you when you use Contact Plans. To use them effectively requires a well thought-out collection strategy. As you know, there are many possible outcomes of interactions with your Debtors and Clients. Many of them can be anticipated and handled automatically with Contact Plans.

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See Also

- Contact Plan Topics

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