Collector - November 2017 - 8

BESTPRACTICES

Bright Ideas
How to gather and implement employee process improvement suggestions.
By Anne Rosso May

I

s your employee suggestion box
gathering dust? As collection agency
owners continue to look for new ways to
streamline services and boost revenue, they
often overlook a goldmine of bright ideas at
their fingertips: their workforce.
A recent O.C. Tanner survey found
that while nine out of 10 employees in
non-management positions believe they
should innovate, only six out of 10 actually
do so due to lack of encouragement from
company leaders.
How can you show employees that you
value their thoughts on how to make your
company better? One ACA International
member company has found success through
a special committee focused on innovation.
Professional Account Services Inc.
launched its Employee Process Improvement
Committee, EPIC for short, in 2008 after
some internal surveys revealed employees
felt they didn't have a voice in the way they
worked accounts.
"We soon realized that collectors are
the ones driving our systems and the
ones we should depend on to let us know
when something is broken or needs to be
tweaked," said Faye Tucker, director of selfpay. "We really believe that one of the key
factors in building a successful company is
allowing everyone to have a voice and work
as a team."
Over the years, EPIC has gathered and
implemented hundreds of ideas that have
helped make Professional Account Services
stronger and more productive. Here's what
Tucker had to say about how the company's
process improvement committee works, as
well as her tips to solicit and take action on
employee feedback.

GETTING EVERYONE INVOLVED
Professional Account Services is a
relatively big company, employing

08

250 collectors who are divided into 18
teams. To make sure everyone on the
collection floor gets an opportunity to
share their thoughts, management invites
representatives from each team to gather
ideas from their group and attend the
quarterly EPIC meetings. Rounding out
the 25-person committee are Tucker;
Miller Magness, director of information
systems; customer service, IT and
litigation department staff members and
two managers.
EPIC has revealed that Professional
Account Services employees are eager
problem-solvers. The committee meeting
agenda typically includes 20 to 30 employeegenerated ideas-or more. Each agenda
item notes who made the suggestion, and
that person is called on to bring the idea to
the table for discussion while a support staff
member takes notes.
"Having a member of IT in the room with
us helps a lot because if the agenda item
requires something we absolutely can't do,
they will let us know upfront so we don't
waste a lot of time discussing and trying to
implement an impossibility," Tucker said.
However, even if a staff member
submits an agenda item that Tucker knows
immediately can't be implemented from a
policy standpoint, for instance if it would
violate a state or federal law, she usually
still allows it on the agenda to ensure the
group has a clear understanding of why
they can't make that change and to educate
everyone on the thought-process behind the
company's policy.
"Something that may not seem important
to us is often very important to them,"
Tucker said. "We want them to feel
comfortable coming to us if they have any
kind of concern or issue, and we need to go
into those types of situations with an open
mind and listen. That's the key."

When the discussion ends, the committee
votes on each idea and usually only proceeds
with something if the majority agrees it's
valuable and worth implementing.

IDEAS VS. COMPLAINTS
Tucker said she tries to keep the EPIC
agenda focused on process improvements
that affect employees' daily routines,
though occasionally staff members will
bring up a complaint or maintenance
request they'd like to discuss in the
meeting.
"We've had occasions where employees
have placed items on the agenda that
relate to things such as microwaves or

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


http://www.ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - November 2017

Upfront
Industry News
Best Practices
FYI
Collection Tips
Making the Right Choice
Getting Your Ducks in a Row
Highlight Reel
Putting it all Together
Calendar
Honor Roll
On Call
Hire Purpose
CFPB Pursues Two Student Loan Servicers
Compliance
ACA SearchPoint
Last Word
Collector - November 2017 - Cover1
Collector - November 2017 - Cover2
Collector - November 2017 - 1
Collector - November 2017 - Upfront
Collector - November 2017 - 3
Collector - November 2017 - Industry News
Collector - November 2017 - 5
Collector - November 2017 - 6
Collector - November 2017 - 7
Collector - November 2017 - Best Practices
Collector - November 2017 - 9
Collector - November 2017 - FYI
Collector - November 2017 - 11
Collector - November 2017 - Collection Tips
Collector - November 2017 - 13
Collector - November 2017 - Making the Right Choice
Collector - November 2017 - 15
Collector - November 2017 - 16
Collector - November 2017 - 17
Collector - November 2017 - Getting Your Ducks in a Row
Collector - November 2017 - 19
Collector - November 2017 - 20
Collector - November 2017 - 21
Collector - November 2017 - 22
Collector - November 2017 - 23
Collector - November 2017 - 24
Collector - November 2017 - 25
Collector - November 2017 - Highlight Reel
Collector - November 2017 - 27
Collector - November 2017 - 28
Collector - November 2017 - 29
Collector - November 2017 - 30
Collector - November 2017 - 31
Collector - November 2017 - Putting it all Together
Collector - November 2017 - 33
Collector - November 2017 - 34
Collector - November 2017 - 35
Collector - November 2017 - Calendar
Collector - November 2017 - Honor Roll
Collector - November 2017 - On Call
Collector - November 2017 - 39
Collector - November 2017 - Hire Purpose
Collector - November 2017 - 41
Collector - November 2017 - CFPB Pursues Two Student Loan Servicers
Collector - November 2017 - 43
Collector - November 2017 - Compliance
Collector - November 2017 - 45
Collector - November 2017 - ACA SearchPoint
Collector - November 2017 - 47
Collector - November 2017 - Last Word
Collector - November 2017 - Cover3
Collector - November 2017 - Cover4
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