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Southern Credit cuts lookup costs $14,000 a year.

Accessibility to accurate address and telephone number information is a basic element of any business, but it is especially crucial in a collections environment. Collections productivity can be hampered by this search for accurate, complete information.

Southern Credit Clearing has found a way to increase its collections productivity and save more than 26% per year on its directory assistance costs by using a new technology called Electronic White Pages (EWP). EWP was developed for businesses that make extensive use of directory assistance information.

Southern Credit Clearing is based in West Palm Beach, Fla., and specializes in bank card and retail collections throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, South America and the Caribbean.

We employ 60 collectors, whose main function is to ensure the financial success of our clients.

There are various facets to each individual account assigned to us for collection. Some are turned over to us in the early stages of collection; others may already have progressed to a more delinquent stage in the collection process, such as secondary or tertiary.

However, in order to initiate any collection effort, we must begin with an accurate phone number and/or address.

In the past, we relied quite heavily on directory assistance to help us locate accurate telephone numbers and addresses of individuals or businesses. Typically, we initiate 9,000 to 10,000 calls to directory assistance each month. Ninety percent of those directory assistance calls were out-of-state, at an average cost of 60 cents per call, and 10% were in-state, at an average cost of 50 cents each.

We were paying $5,900 per month on directory assistance costs alone. In addition, we incurred the labor costs involved in our employees actually making the thousands of calls to directory assistance.

Finally, because the directory assistance operator controls the search of the requested listings, our collectors' productivity was affected by having to make special requests to obtain complete, accurate information.

More productive and cost-effective alternatives to directory assistance existed. Our solution was the Electronic White Pages (EWP) service from Directory Net, Inc. (DNI). EWP provides online access to the directory assistance databases of telephone companies nationwide. More than 120 million telephone numbers and addresses are available through these databases.

The information is updated daily by the telephone companies, unlike CD-ROMs and printed directories, which can be outdated as soon as they are issued. The information retrieved by EWP, which is the same as that provided by the directory assistance operator, is delivered directly to our collectors' PC screens in less than five seconds.

EWP has increased our productivity because we now have the ability to view the actual directory assistance listings ourselves and select the exact or probable choices. The possibility of directory assistance operator error is no longer a concern.

We obtain information more quickly since we can now "look up" an average of 2.5 accounts per minute using EWP, compared to less than two per minute calling directory assistance.

A feature that is especially attractive to us is that EWP provides the complete mailing address, including ZIP codes, which are not readily available through directory assistance.

From an economic perspective, EWP has virtually eliminated Southern Credit's need to make those multiple and costly calls to directory assistance. Our monthly EWP costs average $4,700, a 26% savings over our average directory assistance expenses of $5,900 per month.

On an annual basis, using EWP as an alternative to directory assistance for our more than 120,000 inquiries has resulted in a savings in excess of $14,000.

The Electronic White Pages is easily accessed on our collectors' PCs. EWP search requests are routed from our PCs over a Public Data Network to DirectoryNet's National Gateway Center. The gateway center automatically processes search requests that are routed to the databases of corresponding telephone companies nationwide. Results of these search requests are returned to our PCs in seconds.
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Title Annotation:DirectoryNet Inc.'s Electronic White Pages; Southern Credit Clearing
Author:Foster, Ken, Jr.
Publication:Communications News
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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