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This is a summary of a select few presentations at Collector Live 2020. A full recording of the event which includes many additional speakers is available for purchase at Collector.live.
Another Collector Live show has come and gone. This one-day virtual conference offered information to help personnel from every level of your debt collection team to improve and grow. While there was too much information to unpack it all here, we’ve picked a few of the day’s highlights to share.
Courtney Reynaud: Remaining Compliant Through Difficult Calls and Celebrating the Wins
Courtney Reynaud, Creditors Bureau USA, was one of the first presenters of the day. Her talk focused on something all collectors will struggle with at some point in their careers – staying positive. She began by setting an all-too-common scene. Imagine you begin your day with an unpleasant collection phone call, which snowballs into a day of negative comments and bad encounters.
Letting a difficult situation ruin your day is not uncommon in any line of work. Unfortunately, for debt collection teams, frustration can lead to serious consequences like unintentional non-compliance during a call. Reynaud explained that there are simple steps debt collectors can take to avoid this result through positivity and self-awareness.
- Self-Reflection – When you notice you’re not feeling yourself, pay attention to this feeling. Don’t ignore it!
- Reset or Reboot – As soon as you notice this mood, step away and take a moment to refocus yourself.
- Focus on Good vs Bad – Oftentimes, the “bad” or negative comments can get to you more than positive. Try to pay attention to more positive moments and “wins” in your day than negatives.
- Positive Attitude/Smiling – Smiling will calm down others who are upset which can have an overall impact on your workplace. It will actually make you happier too. Studies show that smiling can actually improve your mood whether you initially feel happy or not.
“You’re not going to be successful 100% of the time. But when you are, love it.”Courtney Reynaud
Kelli Krueger: The Importance of Analyzing Positive Feedback
Kelli Krueger, CBE Companies, spoke during her presentation about the important role of feedback in future performance. She noted that while friends are often willing to offer positive feedback, they are usually afraid to hurt your feelings. Because of this, what they have to say might not always be accurate or truthful.
Unfortunately, those you might not want to hear from tend to offer more negative feedback, which – even when harsh – will often be closer to the truth. Kreuger points out that in life, we are presented with all kinds of feedback.
Although we don’t have much control over where it comes from or who offers it, we do have the choice to accept or reject any advice we are given. The importance lies in embracing this feedback. Even when poorly given, it can help us change and grow.
Between the morning and afternoon presentations, Collector Live featured a legal panel. John Bedard, The Bedard Law Group, Dennis Barton, The Barton Law Group, Nicole Strickler, Messer Strickler and Michael Klutho, Bassford Remele, discussed issues the debt collection industry is facing, ranging from changes in communication technology to addressing cease and desist requests, identifying call baiting and more.
The Future of Communication in Debt Collection
There has been reluctance in the industry to stray from traditional communication methods to interact with consumers. However, all four panelists agreed: text messaging, email and other types of digital communication are the future of collections. There are many ways that text messaging and email can be used to communicate with consumers right now, so long as regulations are followed and proper consent is being gathered.
Addressing Cease and Desist Requests
Moderator Harry Strausser III next asked the panel about handling cease and desist requests from consumers. How should they be handled within a collection agency and what if the cease and desist is not submitted in writing?
Strickler led this topic by explaining that while a cease and desist request isn’t effective unless it’s in writing, it’s best practice to honor oral requests as well. Agreeing with this, Bedard added that a consumer making this request is not likely to pay their bill anyway. If this is the case, there’s no reason to spend more time and effort pursuing this account.
Klutho advised that agencies look at the bigger picture of collection when addressing oral cease and desist requests. Don’t allow yourself or your collectors to become so invested in a single account that you pursue it after a consumer insists you stop. This tunnel vision angers the consumer and wastes resources that could be spent on other accounts.
Barton also suggests agencies look at the long-term. While your agency might be able to win a legal challenge if you didn’t honor an oral cease and desist, you are still spending money on this lawsuit. It’s better to save money and resources by honoring these requests.
“Please train your collectors not to guess.”Nicole Strickler
According to Bedard and Strickler, another key is training collectors to admit when they don’t know the answer to a question. Many times agents get tripped up because they feel pressured to give an answer they might not have.
Klutho noted that as in many other areas of collection, the key to avoid falling for call baiting is to listen carefully during all conversations. Pay attention to the details of the call and be careful to remain in compliance with your answers.
Peter Ghiselli: The Power of Connection in Building Your Career
Peter Ghiselli, TransUnion, led the second half of the day with a powerful speech centered on creating solid connections with others in your career and personal life. He says creating genuine human connections, while seemingly difficult at first, can become easier with practice. The trick is to consistently follow the same principles.
Ghiselli uses the acronym HIT to easily explain his basic values that have led to his strong connections with others.
- straight-forwardness within interactions
- Do the right thing
- Firm adherence to a specific moral code
- No hidden agendas
Allowing these values to guide your interactions can improve every relationship from professional settings with coworkers and managers to personal ones with friends and family. In addition, Ghiselli advocates practicing a set of “tactical skills” when working to create these strong connections.
He closed his presentation by encouraging collectors in attendance to embrace these steps. As the future leaders of the industry, he called on agents to build interpersonal skills now in preparation for a successful future.
Beth Conklin: Motivating Through Listening Fatigue
Beth Conklin, State Collection Service, energized the crowd with a simple, actionable list to keep collectors motivated throughout even the toughest days.
Act Like It
Conklin explains that a positive mental attitude is a big factor in staying motivated. Much like with Reynaud’s tip for smiling to make you feel more positive, acting motivated will make you feel motivated. Being intentional about your approach to life will greatly impact how you feel and what you begin to accomplish.
Start Off Small
Although it’s great to have a can-do attitude, sometimes getting started on projects can be overwhelming. If you are new to being more organized and motivated, or if you simply have a large workload to get through, sometimes the best way to get started is with a small, manageable project. A few small tasks you can accomplish to start your day are:
- Cleaning your desk
- Organizing email
- Prioritizing accounts
Act Like Your Heroes
Think about someone at work or in life that you admire. Reflect on what these people do that makes you appreciate them. Does someone in the office take the time to greet you each morning? Do you have a friend who is always willing to help you with anything you need? What are the traits that make these people great? How can you adopt these traits in your own life?
This tip is simple. Don’t take life too seriously! While professionalism is important in the workplace, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what you do. Take time to laugh. A positive, lighthearted attitude will help you stay motivated.
Stay Away From Electronics
This step can have a huge impact on both your work and your personal life. Taking downtime away from screens clears your mind, helps you process information more thoroughly and allows you to decompress.
Go for a walk, or have a phone-free meal with family and friends. This time away from email and social media allows you to appreciate your downtime and be fully present in interactions with others. Giving yourself this time will leave you fully recharged and ready to tackle projects with renewed energy.
These are just a few of the simple tips Conklin uses to stay motivated and positive. They will keep you balanced, happy, and productive.
Greg Ruffino: How to Get P.A.I.D. – Developing a Conversation Structure
Greg Ruffino, Williams & Fudge, gave a high-energy presentation to help collectors bring home a bigger paycheck. Front line collectors are the revenue generators of the agency, so it’s important to acknowledge how vital this position is to the business. Without collectors, the agencies wouldn’t exist. So, it’s important for agents and managers to be on the same page when it comes to maximizing how much is being collected.
Ruffino explains that following a simple conversation structure during each call is the fastest way to improve collection rates, benefiting everyone. Collectors can use the acronym PAID to help guide them through each consumer interaction.
P = Paid In Full
Ask for the consumer to pay their bill in full. Keep in mind, most consumers will not agree with this option. However, if you begin negotiating at a lower number, you are already limiting how much you will accept. Also keep in mind, asking for the full amount to be paid is something many clients expect from your conversations. It’s best to start with the full amount and work on payment negotiation from there.
A = Acquire Information
Asking for a bill to be paid in full helps you transition into gathering more information about your consumer’s financial situation. If they can’t afford to pay the full bill, ask open-ended questions that help you to understand why. This is also a great time to verify contact information and to gather consent for text message and email communication.
I = Interact With Consumers
A big part of debt collection is building a strong rapport with consumers. Once you know more about them, you can empathize with what they may be going through. Letting consumers know you understand what they are experiencing makes them feel more at ease. Help them trust you by showing consumers you intend to help them find a solution.
D = Deliver Payment Options
The last step of the conversation is to process what you’ve learned and present the best options to your consumer. This could mean settlements, asking for a down payment or recurring payments, among other things. It’s important not to overwhelm the consumer with too many options. Offer two to three different solutions to see which may work best.
Ruffino notes that not all consumers are comfortable enough to give you the information you need for tailored solutions. Do the best you can with the information they provide, using more general payment options if necessary. He also says it’s important to assure consumers you understand their reluctance to share. This, again, can help build rapport and show empathy.
These summaries are just a small taste of the knowledge and insight shared by the experts at Collector Live 2020. If you’d like to read more educational articles and learn from other experts in the debt collection industry, subscribe to the PDCflow Blog.
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– ABOUT THE AUTHOR –
Hannah Huerta, Marketing Specialist
Hannah Huerta is a Marketing Specialist at PDCflow. She creates content for the accounts receivable and payment industry.