The Green Sheet Online Edition
September 14, 2009 • Issue 09:09:01
Dynamic referral management
For many companies, handling referrals can be a tricky, disjointed process. The progress of a referral needs to be tracked, assignments must go out to sales agents and regular updates on leads must be provided to referring agencies that request them.
One wearisome byproduct of all that back and forth is a lot of paperwork - usually a combination of e-mails and faxes that need to be reviewed and filed. Sometimes faxes don't go through properly, are overlooked, misplaced or tossed.
"Just through that referral process alone you lose 1 or 2 percent of those faxes when they come through," said John Jackson, founder and Chief Executive Officer of information technology solutions provider LendingCycle Inc.
Track a referral's progress
A product from LendingCycle called PaymentCycle can simplify the laborious tasks associated with referrals by providing a hosted software program to which the various companies involved can go to track a referral's progress and manage their respective ends of the process.
PaymentCycle gives small ISOs and large processors alike the ability to track stage-by-stage what's going on with each referral that they manage, Jackson said.
PaymentCycle allows ISOs to quickly set up accounts and starts them on the process of entering referrals in a Web browser. Logging into the system simply involves entering a name and access code.
"When they enter those referrals, then the moment they submit them they can automatically track them and get a real-time report," he said. "They never have to call back to see what's going on with the merchant."
For example, a bank sends a merchant referral to an ISO that turns the referral over to a merchant level salesperson (MLS). When the MLS goes on to contact the merchant, the program allows the ISO and referring bank to continue tracking the application, so that the MLS does not have to update the ISO with an e-mail or fax, which the ISO must then pass along to the referring entity.
The program keeps track of a range of information, categorizing it in various ways to make it easier to view and manage, Jackson added.
The ISO can view its total referrals, the merchants with whom it has scheduled appointments (and when and where those appointments are) and the different organizations from which it has received referrals (and the merchants that each one referred). The program also has a search engine to look up referrals by name or category.
Entities involved in a referral can choose how much of their data they want to reveal, but for the most part their respective data sets are interfaced to allow them to view both their own and one another's information as it's updated.
The program also displays specifics pertaining to each referral, including the name of the MLS working each one, the date on which the MLS is scheduled to visit the merchant and, if the visit has already taken place, the updated status of that account.
MLSs can enter updates online via computer, iPhone or BlackBerry. The program also includes an "active" mapping feature that shows where MLSs are at any given time - and on which their names can be moved from one place on the map to another when they're travelling by simply clicking on those names with a cursor.
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