Collector - April 2018 - 31
collection agencies for many years and I have
never been so pleased with the service. The
knowledge, kindness and consideration will
never be forgotten. I was treated with respect
and like a human being. Thanks again."
Another common theme in consumer
compliments hinges on the sometimescomplicated nature of a debt, whether it's a
misunderstanding about the billing process
or a question about repayment options.
A debt collector at North American
Credit Services got a call from a consumer
who wanted to dispute a medical debt that
had gone to collections because he didn't
understand the charges and believed he had
been double billed.
The NACS agent walked the consumer
through the hospital statement, explaining it
"with the depth I needed, and she did it with
ease and graciousness," the consumer wrote in
a thank-you letter to the company, after paying
his balance in full. "If only [the hospital] had
knowledgeable people like [the collector], this
bill would have been paid 90 days ago." The
consumer added: "Would someone please give
[the collector] a BIG HUG for me."
Similarly, a collector at Client Services
Inc. recounted how a consumer thanked her
several times for her professionalism. The
consumer had a large balance and thought
that she would have to pay something she
"Letting her know that we could give her
time with a reasonable payment plan to get
back on her feet made her beyond thankful,"
the collector said. "Telling my co-workers
that someone had actually thanked me made
me proud, and that's why I'm here-to help
consumers and help my team."
Conversations like these that untangle
bills and examine the consumer's financial
situation to determine a win-win repayment
schedule can be long and involved, and
run contrary to call center stereotypes that
representatives are trying to hurry people off
the phone to get to the next call in the queue.
The truth is that collectors often establish
deep connections with consumers by going
above and beyond to help them get their
Elizabeth Clifford, president of Heritage
Financial Recovery Services, recounted an
experience one of her collectors had with a
90-year-old consumer who had been making
small monthly payments on her account for
The consumer often sent post-dated
checks, and the same collector, Jeff, called
her each month to remind her when the
check was going to be deposited (in addition
to sending her a letter).
"Over time, they developed a rapport,"
Clifford said. "Sometimes she would mail
us a series of checks, but she would forget to
change the date and all of the checks would
be for the same day. Jeff would call her and let
her know we would be returning the checks
to her, and she was always thankful for Jeff 's
kindness. She paid off her remaining balance
last year in a lump sum, and thanked Jeff for
being so patient with her."
PROMOTE A CULTURE
These types of comments are immensely
valuable-but not if they get tucked into
a personnel folder and forgotten. When
your collectors receive positive consumer
feedback, take the time to recognize their
accomplishments. Doing so can help create
a continuous feedback loop: collectors help
consumers, consumers express their thanks,
the agency recognizes the collector's good
work and the collector is encouraged to
continue the behavior.
At ConServe, consumer compliments are
tracked on a daily basis and shared with the
originating debt collector, their manager
and the executive team. The collectors are
recognized in department-wide emails as
well as at a monthly all-staff meeting.
ConServe's consumer compliments are
also continuously streamed on internal
monitors throughout the production
floor and the company's public website
(with identifying information redacted).
A website counter displays monthly
cumulative compliment totals-it hit 50,000
compliments in January 2018. (ConServe
started tracking compliments in 2015).
ACA Advocates for
a Balanced View of
In May 2015, the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau issued
a request for information (RFI) in
response to feedback from a variety
of stakeholders-including ACA
International-that the bureau should
expand its complaint database to include
positive consumer experiences to make
it a fairer and more balanced tool.
In its comments, ACA emphasized that
to the extent the CFPB's complaint
database remains publicly available
and held out as a source for informed
decision-making, it is critical for the
database to reflect both negative
and positive company experiences
in order to produce a more reflective
and well-rounded picture of the
consumer financial marketplace than
what currently exists. To do this, ACA
urged the bureau to collect consumer
compliments in the same way it
collects consumer complaints and
post both on the database.
Although the CFPB never took any steps
to add compliments to the database
following the RFI, ACA is hopeful that
under new leadership, the CFPB will
consider ACA's preferred solution: no
longer making the consumer complaint
database publicly available.