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Prioritizing customer service helps debt collection agencies succeed

Jun 10, 2013 Philip Burgess

Prioritizing customer service helps debt collection agencies succeed

For a debt collection agency to achieve its goals, employees working in the firm need to not just have the right skills, but be committed to great customer service as well. The industry tends to be cast in a negative light, and consumer resistance to speaking with these professionals is often high for this reason. When companies are operating well, they are likely to contain respectful, helpful staff members who want to help people pay down their debts, but public opinion can be a barrier to success. In order to maximize the potential for positive outcomes, businesses in this field must work on reshaping perceptions of their business.

Transforming the image

Recently, Fox 13 of Tampa, Florida, took a look at the debt collection industry on a closer level by visiting a local agency. Many consumers know what it's like to get a call from one of these firms, but they probably have little idea of what the company contacting them is actually like. The news provider stressed that the business it visited, Gulf Coast Collection Bureau, was much like the ones of individuals it collects from.

A testament to debt collection's bad rap, the source noted it expected the space would be a highly corporate, dismal operation. Instead, the office, which employs about 35 professionals, was bright and clean. One debt collector, Martha Shope, spoke to Fox 13 about the joy she gets from her job, despite the stress of calling more than 100 debtors each day.

"I get excited when you get something paid off," she says. "We're like family here."

Jack Brown, owner of the agency, explained that the reason the public tends to see debt collection in such a negative light is not the fault of legitimate firms. Instead, he said that "bad apples" cause the stigma, and that these companies are more often made up of criminals than real collectors. Brown is an advocate for better laws governing the industry and does his part at his own business by requiring workers to sign a "Collector's Pledge" to treat others the way staff members would want to be treated.

InsideARM stressed that successful agencies set themselves apart from others by treating proper training as a necessary investment, rather than just another cost. Companies that teach collectors how to work effectively with debtors, as well as provide them with the tools they need to complete the job, suffer fewer lawsuits and are generally more profitable.

The source noted that one way to bring better customer service into the industry is by leveraging high-tech solutions. A few are particularly useful, including ones that offer self service features. By allowing consumers to view their balances, set up their payments and update their profiles independently, collectors can empower these individuals to take control of their financial well-being instead of simply dictating what the person must do. This way, debtors might feel more in control and as a result, will be more likely to pay.

In addition, insideARM recommended, SMS texting is another emerging way to help individuals pay back their debts. People who opt in to the service could get periodic updates about their balances, including reminders about payment deadlines. This can further help them successfully rectify their financial problems, all while enjoying a more well-tailored customer service experience.

While every company wants to make a profit, debt collection agencies must not put financial gain over helping others. Fortunately, by prioritizing customer service over bottom lines, monetary success is likely to follow.