Technology Front of Mind Among Credit Congress Attendees

As trite as it may sound, credit professionals continued to be asked to “do more with less.” Evidence of this was quite noticeable during a pair of Executive Exchange sessions at NACM’s 2011 Credit Congress in Nashville as the need for technology weighed heavily on the minds of credit professionals.

During the Executive Exchange session on Collections, Lynnett Harman noted that using the web and various social media platforms has proven very helpful not just in brand building, but with collections of information. However, when using any of these, credit professionals have to be careful to ensure content is fresh, because they won’t come back if information is out of date, she contended. Additionally, being careful about who is “friended” on places like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook is key because so much information tends to get out there into public consumption, including those who are competitors or potential fraudsters.

“They have some great elements about them, but there are also some significant issues of privacy,” she said.

Moderator Scott Lee noted his collections people use social media as well as Google searches to find those debtors who don’t want to be found because they don’t want to or aren’t able to pay. He quipped, “It’s amazing what you can find out” simply from what people post themselves.

Meanwhile, in the Credit Management session, an interesting exchange revolved around the idea of online credit applications and their pros and cons. Former NACM Chairman Val Venable said they can be very helpful for a credit department IF it’s used for business-to-business transactions ONLY. The moment you take personal information of the party, such as a social security number, the credit department becomes exposed to privacy protection mandates outlined in places like the Federal Trade Commission’s oft-misunderstood Red Flags Rules. But, in the B2B context, it allows speed, easy manageability and paperless options that can be desirable for a credit department. 
Asking for individual information puts you into privacy issues; you’d need a whole new level of security,” said Venable. “It’s a wonderful tool as long as you have things like an electronic signature disclaimer box must be checked by the customer. Don’t let it be a default…make them check the box. That will help you down the road when they say ‘I didn’t know I would have to pay a late fee’ or ‘I didn’t know what the terms were.’”

(Note: Check back for coverage from the 2011 NACM Credit Congress from Nashville on our blog throughout the week. Additionally, more detailed coverage will be included in future eNews editions and the July/August issue of Business Credit Magazine).

Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer

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