Collector - February 2016 - 8


BESTPRACTICES

Can You Hear Me Now?
Overcoming acoustic challenges on the collection floor.
By Anne Rosso May

C

ollection floors are loud. It's simply
inevitable that when you have a
room full of people talking on the
phone, separated only by the thin walls of
their cubicles, noise pollution will cause
some problems.
"It's music to my ears when I hear all
the collectors are on live calls," said Donna
Nicholson Stief, executive director for
Credit Bureau of Lancaster County. "But
on the floor, it can get a little distracting to
other collectors."
Collectors have a lot to focus on when they
are talking to consumers. Conversations can
get quite detailed and collectors can't afford
to miss a step. And equally troublesome is
the secondary noise generated by a loud
collection floor. You don't want a consumer to
overhear another collector's conversation with
a consumer, or even a staff member jovially
announcing to his friend that he's heading
out for lunch. How can collection agencies
minimize noise on the floor?

IMPROVE OFFICE ACOUSTICS
Collectors usually work in cubicles on
the collection floor; and while research
shows that just bumping up the height
of the partitions separating them may
not significantly reduce noise on its own,
insulating the room with acoustic ceiling
tiles and sound-absorbing cubicle walls can.
"Our collectors are in cubicles back-to-back
and side-by-side, and the partitions separating
them have a padding that absorbs the sounds
and keeps everything within the cubicle,"
Nicholson Stief said. "That's something that
your furniture company can easily add to
your existing walls. I have additional paneling
in my office, which doesn't have a door, and it
has helped tremendously."
Carpet and rugs can also help deaden
office noises, including voices and footsteps.

08

A U.S. General Services Administration study
on acoustic mitigation busted the myth that
plants significantly absorb sound-unless
you cultivate a jungle in your office-but it
did note that fabric flags or banners hung
perpendicular to the ceiling can be effective.

KEEP MEETING AREAS SEPARATE
Arrange your office space to corral
external conversations. Separating your
training area, break room and meeting
spaces from the collection floor can help

60

%

Cubicle workers who are
frustrated with the noise level
of their workspaces.
Source: Jungsoo Kim and Richard de Dear,
University of Sydney

minimize both noise and distractions
when collectors are on the phone.
The 3,000-square-foot collection floor
at Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group,
LLC in Sunrise, Fla., houses more than
70 collectors when fully staffed, each one
separated by low cubicle walls. To help
keep new collectors focused on their work,
the company positioned its eight-station
training area away from the collection floor.
A bank of offices, including the trainer's
office, is situated between the new collectors
and the main collection floor to help keep
them focused on their job and within sight
of the trainer.
Immediately adjacent to the collection
floor, the company has supervisor offices
with windows looking out over the
floor. "The windows provide pretty good
soundproofing for those offices, so when
supervisors have their doors open they can
hear what's going on, but with the doors
closed, their conversations are private," said
David Friedlander, president of Healthcare
Revenue Recovery Group, LLC.

INVEST IN HEADPHONES AND
WHITE NOISE
Technology offers a number of ways to
minimize disruptions on the collection
f loor. Noise-canceling headsets make
it easier for consumers to hear the
collector's voice.
"It traps the outside noise so they only
hear the collector," Nicholson Stief said.
"That's important, too, because we want to
prevent the consumer from hearing other
nearby conversations."
If Credit Bureau of Lancaster County
collectors are really bothered by the noise
around them, they can request headsets with
two earpieces to further block out external
sound.
Sound masking systems provide
unobtrusive background noise that can
make other people's conversations less
distracting. Healthcare Revenue Recovery
Group pipes in white noise through a
speaker system, located between the ceiling
tiles and the building roof, to help reduce
ambient noise, which Friedlander said has

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


http://www.ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - February 2016

Collector - February 2016 - Cover1
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