There’s a great quote from Rocky IV when the American hero is getting beaten rather decisively by the Soviet brute, Ivan Drago and heads back to his corner bewildered. He says he sees three of them out there to which his boozy brother-in-law instructs him to “hit the one in the middle.” Decent advice when you have three Dragos in your field of vision and you know only one of them is the actual man. Seems reasonable for Rocky to hit the one in the middle.
Such used to be the way in collections. Clients provided the best information they could from a Rolodex parked on the corner of their desk and we’d do our best to identify the correct John Smith at any given address often being corrected by a John Smith Senior that we were looking for Junior or his grandson, Johnny the Third, and both were at work or living elsewhere these days. We wouldn’t necessarily run after “the one in the middle” but, we would take time to confirm who is who and ultimately, who is responsible for the bill.
Well, not anymore. First, we have much better ways of recording, storing and transmitting information and second, very few people will offer a helping hand to anyone over the phone, rather instead choosing to find the nearest attorney and suing for what, in the most reasonable sense of the phrase, is a “bona fide error,” an unintentional mistake or oversight.
Anybody remember these things???
As a prime example of this, a District Court in Texas denied a collection defendant's motion for summary judgment after it was sued for omitting the “II” suffix in an individual’s name, wrongly identifying the father instead of the son for collection attempts and eventually a summons. In the world gone by, this whole situation would have avoided litigation with a simple phone call by the father, but in today’s world it’s sue first and ask questions later.
Even if you luck out by avoiding litigation, keeping poor or wrong information about your customers and patients will wreak havoc on you in the coming years. Data integrity will be paramount in implementing artificial intelligence and nuanced communications that rely heavily on using consumer information to guide conversations, processes, and more. This goes for everything from customized mass emails to chatbots to things we can only dream of today.
Please remember this fact when collecting your customers' information. It should be a lot easier today with a multitude of electronic input tools at your disposal and it carries far greater implications if done poorly or incorrectly. Data integrity is essential to the survival of us all.
To read more about this case at AccountsRecovery.net, click here.
To learn more about “From the Owner’s Corner,” click here.
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