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Some companies think that revenue is the most important, and compliance is a cost. “Actually, if your compliance program is working, it should be saving you money,” says Laura Knights, Gulf Coast Collection Bureau. She recently discussed the important role compliance management plays in collection in a webinar on the future of compliance management.
Hosted by Accounts Recovery, the webinar was also paneled by Tim Collins of TrueAccord, Michael Klutho of Bassford Remele, and Judd Peak of Frost-Arnett. The hour-long discussion spanned many facets of this broad topic. However, one theme kept coming up – close attention to compliance and risk management is more valuable to an agency than many realize.
Building Client Relationships
Gaining new business is important for company growth. Pursuing these relationships means highlighting the features that make your company different. Common ways to market a collection agency include stating successful recovery rates, presenting positive consumer reviews and other bottom-line business statistics.
Why not emphasize compliance and risk management to boost your connection with prospective clients too?
Sharing Consistent Values
Company culture and value are becoming a bigger piece of the typical corporate image. With the growing threat of data breaches and other security concerns – especially in healthcare – many organizations are publicizing their dedication to these values in particular.
When researching prospects, or speaking with current clients, try to discover what aspects of compliance or risk management are important to them.
Sharing your agency’s emphasis on security and compliance will strengthen client relationships by showing you have the same end goals. You both want to keep consumer data safe. Knowing that you are well-versed in regulation and take proper precautions within your business will ease concerns.
Areas of Compliance to Highlight
You may wish to highlight areas of compliance where your agency’s strengths lie, or perhaps areas that are most important to your clients. A few points that may be of interest:
- What are your policies and procedures to prevent HIPAA violations?
- How deep is your knowledge of topical concerns/recent HIPAA breaches and violations?
- Consider explaining the frequency of training and your internal documentation process.
- Does your human resources department conduct training on discrimination, harassment and other common workplace issues?
Policy and Procedure update process
- Do you audit your policy and procedure manuals regularly?
- When problems do arise, do you conduct a root cause analysis to identify and correct them?
All of the panelists agree that compliance in debt collection is evolving. Most everyone has a handle on complying with current regulations, and should have a game plan for moving forward with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) proposed new rule. The next step in the industry is to focus on typical workplace personnel concerns.
Peak says corporate compliance is where the future of debt collection risk management is headed. “We’re looking at ethical workforces, doing the right thing, and internal standards and practices.”
Inspiring Consumer Trust
Within debt collection, the consumers are just as important – if not more important – than clients. If you can’t gain and keep the trust of the consumers you collect from, you will not retain the client creditors you are collecting on behalf of.
- Standardize the customer experience - If you maintain strict compliance for debt collection regulations, your agency creates the same experience for every consumer. This makes it easier for consumers to know what to expect from your agency if they interact with you on more than one occasion.
- Smooth internal processes - Risk management means a policy and procedure structure that teaches all employees what is expected of them. Creating these plans and properly training employees to follow them will foster a culture of responsibility, which will be apparent during interactions with consumers.
- Encourage positive reviews and advocacy - Responsible office operations will spawn good customer reviews you may use for further marketing on website and social media. After interacting with a collector, it’s common for a consumer to do some research about them online.
Post positive reviews of your agency on your debt collection website and through social channels, and consumers will feel more secure when paying their bills.
Prove Your Compliance Through Analytics
Just as with other areas of your business, it can be difficult to prove compliance has an impact on your bottom line (especially when it’s effective). If you are the compliance officer or outside counsel for an agency, it’s essential to prove the necessity of risk prevention.
Although it’s hard to measure, it’s not impossible. Here are a few metrics you should be keeping track of:
- Presuits/lawsuits - The fewer pre suits and lawsuits your agency sees means your compliance system is working as planned. After all, any time your company avoids legal action, you save time, money and possible damage to your reputation
- Complaints and disputes - Responding to complaints and disputes in a timely manner is another measure of successful compliance. A short response and resolution means your office isn’t letting any issues slip through the cracks.
- HR issues/complaints - Just as with external issues, you should measure your internal office culture. A high number of complaints and turnover are signs of low morale. Conversely, if your team seems happy, your office is retaining employees and there are few complaints, that means your corporate compliance program is working as intended.
Of course, for smaller agencies, creating and maintaining your system of compliance can be challenging. For some basic tips, download our compliance management system guide.