Collector - October 2017 - 36
Working in Unison
How to achieve communication nirvana even when your teams are on opposites sides of the country.
By Anne Rosso May
hen Diversified Consultants
Inc. expanded five years ago,
opening a second office in
Portland, Ore., in addition to its home
office in Jacksonville, Fla., company
leaders knew they had to be laserfocused on communication to make
sure DCI not only maintained its level of
professionalism and quality but improved
upon it-even though staff members were
on opposite coasts.
After trying different methods to
encourage communication and maintain
consistency, DCI implemented a plan that
included additional meaningful and strategic
meetings for company executives and
collection agents, additional training to all
staff and a new ticketing system.
The real test came when DCI opened
a third location in Louisville, Ky., earlier
this year, and executives saw that the
new approach really did work to keep the
company's more than 650 employees united
in one mission.
Collector magazine spoke with Mavis
Kohn, vice president of compliance for DCI,
about these changes, and she offered some
practical tips that companies of all sizes can
use to ensure issues are handled consistently
First, let's talk about why corporate
communication is so important.
What are some consequences of the
dreaded silo mentality?
It's my belief that "important" is not
a strong enough description. I would
say "critical" better describes the vernacular.
When departments are isolated, the entire
company suffers. For example, if Client
Services and Administration changed a
process at a client's request and notified
Operations of this change, but failed to
involve Compliance, there could be potential
liability that the client may not be familiar
with, and this has the potential to create
violations of the regulations we follow.
Communication between all entities to
include the client is critical.
Additionally, when departments fail to
communicate with each other, decisions
and changes can be stalled or delayed while
trying to complete any requested changes.
The delay of approval can affect anything
from using new verbiage on a rebuttal to
how a consumer's account reports to the
credit reporting agencies.
How important is face-to-face
communication at DCI, and what do
you do to encourage it?
Emails and phone calls are necessities
of business, but there is nothing that
can compare to face-to-face interaction with
our staff. Tonality within email can easily
be misconstrued or misunderstood. Even
relying on internal phone conversations
can be difficult; it's imperative, whenever
possible, to have everybody together so that
all information is disseminated in the way it
We now do a few different things
to create an "esprit de corps," and to
foster relationships. To start, we have
monthly floor-wide meetings, which help
employees understand the company's
mission and vision. While they do take a
production hour each month, DCI feels
that this investment in our staff is vital
to ensure that all employees are kept in
the loop on changes and reminded of
security measures. The monthly meetings
are streamed real-time through all sites
with media, allowing employees to stay
engaged while ensuring that the intended
information is presented to all levels.
The meetings are also great vehicles to
recognize those going above and beyond.
Executives are required to attend
quarterly meetings and a member of upper
management from each department is
required to attend a weekly ticket meeting.
This meeting allows for any suggested
changes to be reviewed and allows each
department to provide input on how the
proposed change will affect their business
At the beginning of the year, we tried
something new and held an off-site meeting
for our executive team in our Jacksonville
office. The board and all executives
(including those from our Portland office)
met at a resort on Amelia Island in Northeast
Florida, and we had a half-day meeting to
discuss the lessons learned in the previous
year and upcoming plans for the new year.