I wrote recently about the 8 myths believed ABOUT debt collectors, then it occurred to me that maybe Debt Collectors themselves might believe a few things about their job and their industry that they shouldn’t. Not because they are true, but because people just pass them on believing them to be fact. They may even contain a little truth, but it gets distorted as time goes by. The risk of not dispelling these myths could just be poor performance, but it could be hefty regulatory penalties or even a lawsuit.
- Breaking (Data Protection Act) DPA every now and then isn’t a big deal – It IS a big deal. DPA is there to protect everyone and if you don’t take the right steps to ensure you never divulge data to a wrong party you can be held personally liable for any breach independently of your employer. Why would you risk that? It doesn’t matter if you have a rapport or a longstanding relationship with that customer, or if you only spoke to them 5 minutes ago, you must, must, must, DPA them every time you talk to them.
- I’m a collector not a customer service rep – I used to hear this a lot in the old days, but actually you are an extension of customer service whether you are in house collections or outsourced. Collections has always been about building a relationship, gaining the trust of the customer to share personal or embarrassing details. You are filling a customer need and unless you do it properly that customer is not going to want to pay YOU regardless of how much he knows he must. This belief leads only to poor collections and complaints.
- The managers haven’t got a clue what it’s like on the phones – It is highly likely that your manager was internally promoted, and if not, came from somewhere where they were internally promoted…what I’m trying to say is we all start somewhere and rarely do we slip into a collection manager role with no experience, it’s a fairly nuanced role. It is far more likely that we have all been on the phones at some point and that means we know not only what it’s like, but what naughty things you could be getting up to thinking we don’t know about it!
- That it’s all about the quantity – If you don’t get through on the phone, just move on, there are loads more to chase, if you throw 100 darts at a dartboard a few will stick and they are the only ones that matter. Well, this is why quality is now taking precedence over quantity. A good quality call focused on outcome will yield better results in the long term than hundreds answer phone messages. The objective should be what do I need to do to get through to the right person, rather than how many messages can I leave.
- All customers are won’t pay’s and actively avoiding us – Some debt collectors are wholly emerged in what they do and take recovery of their clients’ money almost personally. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing but it can lead to a somewhat blinkered approach when it comes to circumstances that deviate from the standard excuses of “I forgot” or “I can’t afford it now, but I can afford it next week”. Fortunately through, better training and communication of ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ (TCF) code, it is becoming clearer to everyone that in general, people in debt are not always their because of something they have done and that often circumstances beyond their control have caused lifestyle changes they would not have chosen in a million years.
- I’m clearly not good enough because I’m not collecting as much as him or her over there – Collecting isn’t a natural talent. Talking is. Collecting is a learned skill and anyone can do it if they want to and are comfortable practicing the skills as taught. If you feel you are lacking in performance then ask for more training, your manager has nothing to lose by giving you the tools you need then making sure you use them.
- My company doesn’t care about me – Your company does not manufacture anything, it’s only product is you! You on the phones you talking and listening case by case to establish a rapport and an affordable plan, you building and sustaining your company’s reputation. Yes a bonus payment is nice, but it’s the personal touches that keep people on board. A good company with a good Collection Manager will look for other ways to show their appreciation.
- The cheque is in the post – or the modern day’s equivalent of it. Collectors will still believe, despite tonnes of evidence to the contrary, that payment will be made every time it is promised. But that’s quite nice isn’t it? That despite being let down over and over they don’t lose that little spark of hope!
Are you a collector? What did I miss?
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