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Customer service key for debt collectors

Mar 13, 2013 Philip Burgess

While hearing from a debt collector surely doesn't put many people in the best of moods, it doesn't have to be a harrowing experience. Unfortunately, according to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, many recovery calls were just that in 2012. He recently shared a list of last year's top 10 sources of consumer complaints with local news source WFMY News 2, and debt collection agencies were on the list.

Cooper told the news source that citizens of North Carolina filed 1,387 complaints regarding debt collectors in 2012, landing credit and collections at No. 7 on the list. He claimed that many of these complaints involved violations of debt collection best practices standards, particularly when it comes to collectors making threats over the phone.

The Federal Trade Commission prohibits debt collection agencies from making certain threats. They cannot tell consumers that they will be arrested, that any of their wages or property will be seized or that legal action will be taken against them if they have no intent to do so, among other things.

The top source of complaints, with 6,126 filed, was telemarketing companies that made calls to consumers on official Do Not Call Lists.

Customer service counts
The field of debt collection is a tricky one in many ways. Dealing with consumers who may be experiencing difficult times in their lives and who may not be receptive to the idea of speaking with a debt collector can be fraught with chances to make a poor impression. However, the nature of these interactions opens up many prime opportunities for some collection agencies to set themselves apart from less skilled ones.

When a consumer hears from a debt collector, they may be expecting the encounter to be a negative one, not because they are unaware of their debts but because they may be anticipating a lack of understanding on the other end of the line. By training employees to interact with debtors with a high level of compassion, they may not only be able to successfully collect on debts more often, but create a strong reputation for their customer service prowess.

While there are many debt collection agencies that employ great workers and follow the industry's best practices standards, those that violate regulations have come to dominate the public view of debt collection. Agencies need to prioritize customer service if they want to take back the industry's reputation once and for all.