Collector - October 2017 - 17
(n.) 1. collaboration between
business competitors to achieve
mutually beneficial results.
For example: Let's say your client wants
you to do something that you know does not
comply with payment card industry security
standards. Instead of objecting and debating
with the client why you won't do that-even
if its other agency will-in a collaborative
relationship, all parties work together.
"If the client has that conversation with
all involved parties at once," Kirchner said,
"and I say that I don't think a new process is
PCI compliant, maybe the other agency will
say, 'You're right, it's not PCI compliant. I
didn't think of that.' Or they could even say,
'That's right. But if you were to do it this
way, then it would be.' "
These meetings could also help create more
efficient client workflows. Is there a better way
to document processes or configure reports?
Another pressing question today is credit
reporting: Would it benefit the client, and
if so, when should it happen? Big decisions
like that can take months to resolve, with lots
of back and forth between agencies and the
client. When agencies work together to hash
out issues, and then present a solution to the
client, everyone wins.
Scorecards are another good example of
what to discuss with your competition. Some
clients use a scorecard to grade their thirdparty collection agencies. But what happens if
those agencies believe the scorecard categories
are incomplete or the way it's calculated is off?
"If two competitors don't agree on the
scorecard, then month after month both
parties are going to be explaining to the client
why the scorecard is wrong and the client
will get frustrated," said Terry Armstrong,
president of State Collection Service.
The solution? Get together with your
competitors and hash out a scorecard that
works for everyone. Armstrong suggested
reporting by net, not gross, recoveries and
by batch rather than overall placements or
recoveries. Above all, competitors must be
comparing apples to apples; otherwise a
scorecard holds little meaning.
Kirchner noted that while sharing
reports and scorecards among agencies
is standard in some industries, in others,
like healthcare, it's not quite the norm yet.
However, that doesn't mean you can't nudge
clients in the right direction.
"It strengthens our client relationships,"
she said. "With all things being equal,
creditors want to do business with vendors
who are easy to work with. What could
be easier than having vendors working
together to create solutions for you? They
Of course, you don't want to share all
your secrets. Maybe you keep your approach
to work queues private or you decide that
a specific reporting method is going to be
"The way I look at it is, yes, there is
proprietary information, but there are only
so many ways you can collect an account,"
Armstrong said. "We generally have the same
tools as everyone else. It's like being a band
leader: it's not the wand that makes music, it's
the conductor. Even if another agency has the
same tools, it's how we use those tools that
make us uniquely effective."
Anne Rosso May is editor of Collector
Working in a competitive
environment isn't always
easy, but it can lead to
group meetings, either
in person or by conference
call, helps ensure agencies
hear the same message
from their client at the same
time, putting them on an
equal playing field.
Get together with
your competitors and
hash out a scorecard that
works for everyone. Make
sure you are comparing
apples to apples; otherwise
a scorecard holds little