Jun 10, 2013 Philip Burgess
When people think about customer service jobs, they probably have a few images in mind. For instance, they might picture a cashier taking their card at a clothing store or a waitress smiling as she takes an order. Most likely, the thought of a debt collection agent doesn't come to mind. But why is this? After all, while they might not be directly selling a product or service, these professionals work in a consumer-facing industry where what they do has a major impact on the quality of person's daily life.
However, perhaps because of the fact that these agencies have received a bad rap due to the actions of less professional firms, collectors are likely not the kind of employees the public associates with great customer service. This leaves such companies in a challenging position - how can they successfully collect on debts if the individuals they're trying to help are skeptical of the interactions? It is critical that these businesses take the initiative to train their workers to be personable, respectful and savvy. In the end, it will pay off.
The big difference
When it comes to customer service, debt collection agencies that make quality interactions a priority are already seeing results. Lazarus Financial Group, a leading debt collections organization, recently announced that it believes a friendlier approach to communications is the key to actually recovering money for its clients.
In a video about the company's strategies, the business featured a grateful email they received from a consumer. The debtor contacted the agency after having a positive experience with a representative, and in the message, he or she thanked collections specialist Kristina Eisenhauer for the "candor and professionalism" she employed. The consumer went on to say "it was a pleasure" speaking with Eisenhauer and said he or she planned on paying the past due bill as soon as possible.
Eisenhauer, who works for PatientFirstCollections, a company powered by Lazarus Financial Group, explained that in her experience, being an ethical, respectful employee is important to success. Because of this, she is a top performer within the firm.
"Everybody has been in debt in some form or fashion," said Lazarus Financial Group Co-Founder Sheri McCann. "And I want to make sure that the people we are talking to feel comfortable talking to us about very personal, intimate parts of their life."
McCann added that people like Eisenhauer are just the kind of staff member debt collection companies should look for when hiring. McCann stressed that one of the employee's assets is her background in customer service, which she has incorporated into her recovery strategies.
A better approach
According to industry blog Easy Debt Collecting, there a few simple rules that every agent should follow when interacting with consumers. For instance, professionals should always respect the debtor's dignity - the individual will want to save face, and collectors don't need to be blunt about the purpose of the call at first. It's only human for people to be embarrassed when they made a mistake or circumstances have prevented them from making payments
Additionally, the blog suggested that debt collection agents don't focus too heavily on their own goals for when and how to address the debts. By helping the customer play an active role in coming up with a plan that works for his or her specific situation, not only are they more likely to pay, but they will not feel intimidated. Easy Debt Collecting stressed that pushing a consumer to make promises he or she can't keep never works.
With an approach more tailored toward making the debtor feel empowered and respected, debt collection agencies can improve both their own results and account holders' financial situations.