Setting Up Clients
Your customers must be added to DebtCol with all their particular settings such as their name, address, contacts, commission rates and more. Then when you have a case to action for them, the system knows which one of your staff to assign the case to, what commission rate is to be applied when you recover debts for them and much more. Taking the time to setup your client in as much detail up front, will save you a lot of time down the track as the system can make decisions for you based on your client setup.
Examples of client groups might be “Commercial”, “Consumer” and “Strata”; while sub-groups could be “Tier 1”, “Tier 2” and “Tier 3”. You could then target clients grouped under “Strata” with sub-group “Tier 1” to bulk generate invoices every Friday, for example. Or build the Trial Balance based on that target, or based on a branch.
You could also build a client performance report based on a particular industry sector to see how your overall recovery performance is in that industry; making it a tool to approach more prospects in the field and grow your business of the back of your good results in an industry.
So taking care to group your clients can have many benefits down the track.
Entities > Client > Add or Maintain Client
IMPORTANT: It is vital that you take the time to carefully setup each client as these settings define how the system invoices the client, manages trust funds, handles GST and generates reports. The first three pages of the Client Maintenance process have mandatory fields, so when creating a new client you MUST review the first three pages.
Client Details Page
Client Templates can be used to create new clients more efficiently. A Client Template can be created with common settings like, bank accounts, initial actions, charge exceptions, trust refund rules, commission rates, payment allocation rules and more. Because there are so many variables when creating a new client, client templates can be used to automatically apply these variables, leaving the operator to simply enter the client specific details.
Select an existing client template where indicated, if needed when creating a new client.
Here you enter the name, addresses, and other contact details for the client.
Important things on this page to note are:
Legal Type identifies the legal entity of the client. This is of vital importance especially when performing legal action as this type can determine the legal pleadings on your legal precedent and also determine charging for things like service fees.
Defining Legal Pleadings for different legal types is managed in Tools > System Collection Tools > Litigation Tools > Legal Types.
For each legal type you can define your pleading text as it should appear for the plaintiff and for the defendant. These text fields can you selected when setting up your legal precedent/document in Reports & Documents > Documents > Add or Maintain Documents. The merge field to select from the list is “Legal Description Client”.
Defining charge to client based on legal type is managed in Tools > System Collection Tools > Charge Codes. See tab “Cost Recovery to Client”. If a charge is decided by the legal entity of the client then you must select the client entity type and the charge that applies to it. Refer to the user guide on maintaining charge codes for further details.
In the Address box you can apply the text stored in the Mailing Address fields to the Street Address and Legal Address. Simply click "Update Addresses"
The fields under the sworn address tab can be used to merge into Affidavits or any other documents requiring details to be sworn by the client.
If invoices sent by post are to be sent to an address that is different to the clients mailing address, enter details under the tab labeled “Invoice Address” and be sure to put the client name in the field labeled “Invoice To”.
If you are using the JusticeLink system, it is a requirement that you specify the plaintiff’s legal address according to their structure. In the tab labeled “Justice Link Address” enter the clients legal address according to these new Justice Link rules. This allows them to validate the address against an Australia Post database. Please note that it is critical to get the address correct because if they don’t validate they will reject your requests.
Under the “Payment Details” tab, enter your clients bank account details and/or BPAY biller code for debtors to make payments to. These can be merged into letters to direct this clients debtors to pay direct to their bank account via EFT or BPAY.
In the contacts table, email addresses can be recorded against all contacts. On clicking the email button, a new email page will be launched by your default email software on the workstation. The contacts email address will be pasted in here. It is important to note that emails generated in this way will be stored locally and not on the DebtCol server.
Under the “Other” tab you can record a short name for the client and an alternative and external client code. You can also link the client to a Referrer.
Client Preferences Page
This page stores specifics regarding the agreement you have with the client including any sundry information that may be necessary to record.
Important things on this page to note are:
Legal Commission Rate if used will allow the system to calculate a different commission rate for matters that have gone legal. If the commission rate on legal files is no different to normal then you may leave this field blank.
Maximum Commission allows you to nominate a ceiling amount of commission to be charged on a case by case basis. Simply enter the amount in dollars.
Commission to Debtor when ticked, will calculate the commission on full payment and apply this against the debt when creating a new case for this client.
Ignore Max Commission On Debtor will ignore any maximum commission rules when applying commission to the debtor.
SMS Allowed if un-ticked will not allow an SMS be sent to debts belonging to this client.
List Defaults automatically allows you to specify which clients to manage batch updates to a reporting agency to report payment defaults. When selecting debts within a system query, you will be able to differentiate between clients defined for automatic listing of defaults (criteria value should be equal to 1) and those that aren’t (criteria value equal to 0).
Commission Free Period can be defined by specifying the number of days newly entered debts cannot attract commission if payment is made in this time.
Automatic Conversion if ticked will ensure any debts loaded with a commission free period are automatically converted as commissionable when the free period is up. If un-ticked, user must manually convert in Recoveries à Maintenance a Case and insert the date the debt was converted.
Debt Components are pre-defined are allow a debt total to be classified into separate components where necessary. For example, a Local Government body may submit a debt for collection which is part land rates and part water rates, while a corporate client may submit a debt for an outstanding invoice plus interest or costs and a small business may just submit a plain debt amount to collect. The debt component chosen for the client will determine what components are available when loading a new case for that client.
To follow is an example of the debt components available when loading a new case for a client with a debt component setting of “Motor Vehicle Claims”.
To follow is an example of the debt components available when loading a new case for a client with a debt component setting of “Debt Collection”.
Default Allocation of Debtor Payments is where you can choose how you prefer your clients’ debtor payments be allocated. Debt followed by costs and then interest, or other means.
Status can determine if the client is a current and active client or otherwise. A global DebtCol setting can use this status to halt entry of new debts where status is inactive. This field can also be used in report queries to output a list of active or inactive clients.
Account Manager selected here will be the person managing this client. The account manager can assign matters to a “Collector” and still be accountable for the client. The button next to the Account Manager field, if clicked will update this clients open debts with the select operator as the “Collector”. This is useful if the Account Manager for the client has changed.
Nature of Business is vital for the production of legal pleadings. Go to Tools > Advanced System Tools > Litigation Tools > Cause Codes to create an appropriate nature of business, and then assign it here.
Defining Cause Codes for different purposes is managed in Tools > System Collection Tools > Litigation Tools > Cause Codes. The text fields defined within a cause code can be selected when setting up your legal precedent/document in Reports & Documents > Documents > Add or Maintain Documents. The merge field to select from the list is “Cause Text”.
Refer to the section on maintaining cause codes for further details.
Initial Action allows you to assign an action to run against new debts entered into DebtCol for this client.
JusticeLink Frequent User ID can be provided by JusticeLink for clients with frequent usage of the New South Wales Justicelink eServices system. Speak to JusticeLink to attain the ID and record it here.
Branches can be used when your agency has multiple offices and needs to link clients to a specific branch. This can assist in easily reporting on revenue and branch performance, plus managing trust movement.
Groups can be used to group similar clients together. This can assist in easily reporting on revenue and performance relating to the group, plus managing trust movement.
Sub Groups can be used to further group similar client together, when a client group is not enough. For example you may have a client group called “Commercial”, but need to classify commercial into tier 1, 2 and 3. This can assist in easily reporting on revenue and performance relating to the sub-group, plus managing trust movement.
Client Accounting Page
Here is where we define how to invoice the client and set credit limits or place the client on credit hold.
Charge Tax if ticked will charge tax to this client where tax is applicable according to the charge codes in the system. Each charge code (See Tools > System Collection Tools > Charge Codes) has a tax rate applicable to the debtor, client and the agency. If un-ticked, no tax will be charged.
Charge Agency/Deferred will determine if the client is to be charged deferred costs once they have been paid by the debtor. If the client is charged less than the debtor for recoverable costs, agency costs will always accrue on the case.
When closing a case that has agency costs (using the CF command within an action code), if the client is defined to charge deferred costs, the system will ask the user to charge the deferred costs to the client. If the user accepts, a debit will be raised for the agency costs and this will appear on the clients invoice.
Closing a case with deferred costs in batch mode (using the CW command within an action code) cannot prompt the user so it automatically writes off the deferred costs. The agency costs written off will be recorded against the debt and can be reported on separately.
If there are deferred/agency costs and charge deferred is ticked and a direct to client payment is allocated to agency costs, those agency costs will be charged to the client to appear on a future invoice.
If it’s a trust payment allocated to agency costs, those agency costs will not be refunded to the client. Instead, the client amount on the transaction will exclude the agency costs and appear on the Agency Costs client.
To defer costs to the client, click the button labeled “Charge Overrides” on the Navigation Bar and fill in the Override System Default Charges table. Where recoverable costs charged to the client are less than what has been charged to the debtor, the difference will be recorded as deferred/agency costs, but only where Charge Deferred Costs is ticked.
For example: If scale solicitors costs of $100.00 have been charged to the debtor but only $20.00 charged to the client, deferred/agency costs on scale solicitors fees will be recorded as $80.00.
If charge deferred flag is ticked on client, you can expect the following results:
- Agency costs to be accrued where the debtor amount is greater than the client amount and the transaction type for the charge is deemed a recoverable cost.
- On a Trust Payment, if there are agency costs accrued on a transaction type that a payment is allocated to, it will create an agency costs client transaction for the amount allocated up to the value of the accrued agency costs
- On a Direct Payment, it will create an agency costs recovered transaction for Agency costs paid / allocated so the client can pay what is owing to the agency.
If charge deferred flag is not ticked the following can be expected:
- Agency costs will not be accrued on the account
- No agency costs transactions will be created for a Trust Payment or Direct Payment. All recovered monies will be refunded back to the client.
Mercantile Invoice Settings
Charge Client if un-ticked will not raise any charge to the client except commission on payments. If NO charge is to be raised against a client, be sure to un-tick this and set the clients commission rate to zero percent.
Bank Account – Operating links the payments received by the client to a specific bank account. When the client payment is being receipted into the system, it will therefore default to this bank account. The operator has the capacity to change the bank account at the time of entering the payment, should there be a need to do so.
Trading Terms determine the date an invoice will fall due for payment. This due date can appear on the client’s tax invoice if required.
Order Number is where a purchase order number can be recorded, which in turn will appear on the client’s invoice.
Invoice Formats can be many and varied. There is no limit to the number of different invoice formats. This means that should a client have a specific need that necessitates a tailored invoice, this can be done with ease. Here you can select the appropriate invoice format from the list.
To create a new invoice format you must first create the invoice in Crystal Reports. Usually copying/renaming the DebtCol standard invoice (standard.rpt) format is the quickest way. Once you have renamed it you can make the necessary changes to the Crystal Report itself.
In DebtCol you must define your new invoice format. Go to Tools à Advanced System Tools à Invoice/Statement Formats. Ensure the name you give to the new format in DebtCol is the same as the Crystal Reports name, including the .rpt extension. For example sample.rpt. Be sure to describe the format distinctively as it is this description the users will see in the select box and specify the type as “Invoice”.
Dispatch Invoice By determines the mode of sending an invoice.
If you choose Email you will be prompted to enter the email address it is to be sent to. The invoice will be sent as an attachment.
If you choose post, when the invoice is generated it will send the invoice to the printer nominated at the time of request.
If you choose View, when the invoice is generated it will not physically dispatch the invoice anywhere, but will simply make it available for viewing for historical purposes.
If you choose Not Dispatch the system will not generate an invoice for this client.
If for some reason the charges for this client are to be invoiced to another party, tick the box labelled “Invoice Addressed to Another party”. Additional fields will appear where you record the details of the party being invoice.
Value of Credit Limit allows you to stipulate an upper limit of credit to the client. Once the charges for this client reach this value, operators will receive alerts when working on their cases.
Credit Hold, if ticked, will prevent operators from incurring more charges for the client; with the exception of commissions on payments.
Withhold Billing Option:
There are three options:-
- Do not withhold charges from invoicing
- Withhold invoicing legal charges on case until case is paid in full
- Withhold invoicing legal charges on case until total payments is greater than or equal to the legal costs
The default is option 1 and when this is selected, all unbilled charges will be included when an invoice is generated.
When option 2 is selected, for each legal charge relating to a case, that case must be paid in full before it will be included in an invoice.
When option 3 is selected, for each legal charge relating to a case, that case must have payments equal to or exceeding the legal costs accrued before it will be included in an invoice.
Legal Invoice Settings Tab
In the event you need to create separate invoices for legal charges, and you choose an invoice format on the Mercantile Invoice Settings Tab which is linked to a legal invoice format, this legal invoice format will be specified here. Its invoice dispatch settings will default to those of the mercantile invoice but can be changed.
Trust Settings Tab
Bank Account - Trust determines which trust account debtor trust payments are made to.
When doing trust refunds, you can choose to generate refunds based on the bank account.
IMPORTANT: To create a new trust account, go to Accounting > Banking Tools > Bank Accounts. For trust accounts, be sure to select Agency Trust or Solicitors Trust as the Account Type.
IMPORTANT: Each trust bank account must have an accompanying client record that holds agency cost transactions. Agency costs can be deferred costs (see Client Maintenance, Accounting and Charge Deferred Costs for further details) or the gap between legal costs charged to the debtor and what was charged to the client for the same item.
For example. If a charge for solicitors’ costs on legal action has been raised to the debtor for $100 but the client has only been charged $80, the gap of $20 is deemed agency costs. Because the $100 is recoverable from the debtor, the system knows when the client has not been charged for the full amount and when payment of the gap is made, the system will not remit the agency costs portion to the client if paid into trust. If paid direct to the client, it will raise a charge to the client to recover the agency costs portion.
Account Type determines whether you can intercept cleared trust funds held on the clients’ behalf and contra/offset against amounts owing by the client to you.
If the client is defined as a contra client and you trust bank monies on their behalf, the system will keep track of what your client owes you and at the time of refunding this money, it will draw a transfer of the charges to offset their balance and a refund for the difference.
For clients with a contra account type you can limit the contra of charges to only those charges that are unbilled at that point in time simply by ticking the box labelled “Contra only unbilled”. This means that no past due amounts owing by the client will be contraed.
You can also restrict the contra to specific types of transactions such as commission only. Simply nominate the transaction types to contra in the table labelled “Types of Transactions for Contra only”.
Trust Posting Frequency allows you to define the regularity in which trust refunds must be performed for any given client.
At the time of generating trust refunds, you can nominate to perform refunds on all clients for a specific frequency.
Statement Formats can be many and varied. There is no limit to the number of different trust statement formats. This means that should a client have a specific need that necessitates a tailored statement, this can be done with ease. Here you can select the appropriate statement format from the list.
To create a new statement format you must first create the invoice in Crystal Reports. Usually copying/renaming the DebtCol standard trust statement (TrustStatement.rpt) format is the quickest way. Once you have renamed it you can make the necessary changes to the Crystal Report itself.
In DebtCol you must define your new statement format. Go to Tools > Accounts Setup > Statement Templates. Ensure the name you give to the new format in DebtCol is the same as the Crystal Reports name, including the .rpt extension. For example sample.rpt. Be sure to describe the format distinctively as it is this description the users will see in the select box and specify the type as “Statement”.
Statement Dispatch By determines the mode of sending a statement.
If you choose Email you must enter the email address it is to be sent to in the field labeled “Statement Email To”. The statement will be sent as an attachment.
If you choose Facsimile, when the statement is generated it will fax it to the fax number on the Details page in Client Maintenance.
NOTE: A properly configured fax modem must be installed and running on the DebtCol server before you can utilise this option.
If you choose post, when the statement is generated it will send the statement to the printer nominated at the time of request.
If you choose View, when the statement is generated it will not physically dispatch the statement anywhere, but will simply make it available for viewing for historical purposes.
If you choose Not Dispatch the system will not generate a statement for this client.
Statement Export To determines what kind of attachment emailed statements will be sent in.
Refund Method defines how the refund transaction to client is to be remitted.
- Cheque will allow for the printing of a refund cheque on pre-printed cheque stationery.
- Electronic Funds Transfer will create an ABA (Australian Banking Association) file to be used in conjunction with your banking software for electronic remittance.
- Manual determines which matters are to have manual remittance done.
When doing trust refunds, you can choose to generate refunds based on the refund method.
When remitting trust refunds electronically via an ABA file, you can also nominate to use the primary client reference number on each case to substitute the bank account number on the client. Simply click the check box labelled “Use Primary client reference as bank account number in ABA”.
Prevent Trust Payments if ticked will not allow a user to process any of the clients’ debts as trust payments.
Process Trust Refunds by Case but on a Single Statement, if ticked will create trust refunds on a case by case basis, but will appear on a single trust statement to the client.
Refund Deferred/Agency Costs will determine whether the client is to be refunded costs paid by the debtor or if such costs are to be retained by the agency.
If un-ticked, any debtor costs recovered and trust banked would not be refunded back to the client but instead retained by the agency. Any debtor costs recovered directly by the client would then attract a charge to the client by the agency in order for the agency to recover such costs.
If ticked, any costs recovered will be refunded back to the client less the balance of agency costs outstanding against the transaction and less any amounts owing by the client if they are setup as contra.
Sub Clients Tab
Where you have a group of client records that are all related and require a single invoice, choose on client record to be the parent by specifying the remaining client records as sub clients. To do this simply tick “Process Invoices and Trust Funds on behalf of sub clients” then enter all the clients where indicated in the table.
Communications and Instructions
General Notes is where you would store any important remarks about the client that must alert operators working on this clients’ cases. For example, if the client is not available on a Wednesday this is the perfect place to store such a remark because when a collector opens a debt for this client; this remark will appear in an alert.
Default Client Instructions is used to automatically set pre-defined instructions for each job type. These instructions can then be merged into a document if required.
Client Communication History is a complete list of all communications recorded against the client like notes added, emails, invoices and trust statements generated.
Client Charge Exceptions
Arrangement Threshold can be defined to ensure arrangements entered for this client do not exceed the upper limits of duration given to repay debts.
To allow a user to override this threshold, go to Entities > Users & Logins > Users and tick Override Arrangement Threshold. The user will still be alerted to the threshold being broken, but can continue with the arrangement.
Interest Rates allow you to define any interest calculated on the debt by the client. Here you can also indicate an interest rate to be charged on default of a payment arrangement plan.
Any such interest can be calculated within an action code using the shortcut command IBS and the resulting interest is deemed interest before summons. The IBS command can also be added to an action wizard.
If the interest rate changes, add a new row to the table and stipulate the interest rate and the date effective from.
Specify the type of interest from the select box labelled “Interest Type”. The options available are simple or compounding.
Nominate the “frequency” with which the system will calculate the interest.
SMS charge Exception will override the global system charge for an SMS with the amount nominated here.
Charge Exceptions table allows you to nominate a particular predefined charge code or series of charge codes and override them for this client. You can override them with either a fixed charge, percentage discount, percentage of the original (typical) charge, or a pre-defined fee scale. Where a charge prompt is specified the user will have the chance to alter the calculated amount at run-time.
If you charge the client based on time spent and the hourly rates differ to your standard hourly rate, in the Timed Activity Overrides table, select the job role and then specify what the hourly rate is for this client and the job role.
When in the Case Manager and using the Timed Activity button, if a client charge override on the job roles is specified, the rates used will be determined by the job role of the user and the rate overrides specified on the client for that role.
Here you can nominate a charge to be raised for the client on a recurring/repeating basis. For example, an annual subscription fee can be inserted here to commence on a set date and repeat at particular frequency. The Mass Processing scheduler (which should be run daily) will check clients with recurring charges and generate the charges at the scheduled times. The charges are then included in the next invoice run.
IMPORTANT: It is the "Next Date" that is important here. This is the date that the Mass Processing Scheduler will raise the charge. It will then set the next date by adding the number of days in the "frequency (in days)" to the next date.
Choose from a pre-defined charge code. For GST to be added, ensure the tax rate is specified on the charge code under the client non-disbursement page.
Client Other Exceptions
Email Subject for Documents Emailed allows you define the most common layout/format of the subject for an email of a document and you can use the following data fields to merge into the subject of your email:-
- Case Number
- Customer’s Account Number
- Primary Debtors Name
Override default email message for documents will allow you to tailor an email message sent with a document. Select the predefined document or documents and insert your email message where indicated. This will override the email message defined in Reports & Documents > Documents > Add or Maintain a Document.
You can have the system automatically send an email notification when the status of any of their cases changes. Here you can specify to notify on all status updates, or just status updates on legal files.
Where indicates, enter the email address of the person who wishes to receive the updates.
Diary Days from Payment allows you to nominate the number of days debts for this client should be diarised ahead after a payment has been entered. This will override any global system setting.
Apply Imported Payment to Oldest
Where this is ticked, imported payments processed via the batch payment tool will check for the existence of repeat offenders belonging to the nominated client and case. Repeat offenders are determined by sharing the same client and account number.
Apply Arrangement to Oldest, when ticked, imported arrangement plans will be applied to the oldest matching cases using the primary client reference for this client.
Where this is un-ticked payments whose value exceeds the balance owing will be put into a credit balance by the amount of the overpayment. This will be shown on the payment as a refund/overpayment.
Where this is ticked overpayments cannot be made. Instead the payment will be processed for the balance owing and a support notation detailing the overpayment amount is added to the case.
Action on Paid In Full debts, if ticked will run the action wizard specified in “Action on paid in full debts”. This will override the System Settings designed to automatically run a set action wizard when a payment is applied that reduces the balance to zero or below.
Client Batches Page
The data on this page is display only. It shows every batch import of new cases loaded for the client and their agreed settings at the time, such as commission rate, operator, job type and more.
Portal Settings Page
Portal Access, indicates the client has access to the DebtCol web portal.
Belongs to a Restriction Database if assigned to a client record will allow a user who shares the same access database to access debts for this client only. This is perfect when giving the client access to DebtCol to view progress on their matters as the system will exclude their view of all other non-related debts.
Allow actions to be run from Client Portal, if ticked will allow DebtCol Action Wizards to be run by the client when they are logged into the web portal.
Initial Portal Actions allows simple action wizards to be available for the client to run when creating new cases via the DebtCol Client Portal.
Portal Case Manager Actions allows simple action wizards to be available for the client to run on existing cases for the client, when they are logged into the DebtCol Client Portal.
The DebtCol Client Portal can be utilized by a client to create new debts and send their own reminder notices and demands BEFORE they refer them to you as a bad debt. These are referred to a DIY (do it yourself) pre-referral debts. Here you can restrict the client utilizing this aspect of the portal in the following ways:-
1. Set a maximum dollar value of the debts being loaded
2. Set the number of these DIY debts allowed within a certain time frame, commencing from a set point in time.
3. Nominate the action wizards they are allowed to execute
Emailing the client about a general matter
Click the button labeled “Email” on the Action bar.
From the “Options” list, select the party to email.
Where “to Client Contact“ is selected, a new select box will appear with the list of contacts for you to choose from. The email addresses will automatically populate upon selection.
Where “to Operator” is selected, a new select box will appear with the list of system operators for you to choose from. The email addresses will automatically populate upon selection.
Where “to Other” is selected or nothing is selected from the “Options” list, you will need to specify the email address where indicated.
Enter a subject for the email where indicated.
Simply click in the text area to type the body of your email message, or select a predefined message from the field labeled “Saved Templates”.
If a carbon copy or blind carbon copy to the email is required, enter the email addresses where indicated.
Here you can also add attachments. Click the “Browse” button, locate the file to be attached. Repeat this process for each attachment.
Click “Okay” to save.
Note: If you receive an error message when loading attachments, your Internet Explorer settings may not allow access data across domains.
When the note is added to note history, the note text will commence with “EMAIL OUT to emailaddress” followed by the email address(es). If attachments were sent the note will commence with “EMAIL OUT to emailaddress WITH ATTACHMENTS:”
All outbound emails are shown in the note history in blue.
IMPORTANT: When you click “Okay” the entire client record will be saved, including any changes made before the email is added.
Recording Notes and attaching files to a client record
Click the button labeled “Notate” on the Action bar.
Select a pre-defined note from the list where indicated, or type your note in the text area.
To attach an electronic file, click the browse button to locate your file. Double click the file when found, then click “Okay” on the Action bar.
Click “Save” on the Client record to save the notes and attachments into the client note history table.
Note: If you receive an error message when loading attachments, your Internet Explorer settings may not allow access data across domains.