Collector - April 2018 - 33
INDUSTRY GROUPS HELP
AMPLIFY GOOD DEEDS
Internal recognition is one piece of the
puzzle, but to truly change the public's
opinion about the third-party debt
collection industry, these individual stories
of how debt collectors help consumers
rebuild their lives need a larger audience.
That's why industry groups are stepping up
to help spread the word.
Last year, the Institute for Collection
Leadership, a coalition of ACA
International members who are all large
agency credit and collection professionals
or affiliate members, launched a website
designed to clarify public perception
of the debt collection industry. The
website, Collect the Truth (www.
collectthetruth.org), features videos and
written testimonials from debt collection
professionals and the consumers they've
helped, all speaking in support of the
credit and collection industry.
Jim Richards, chairman of Capio
Partners LLC and former ICL chair, told
Collector magazine last year that "ICL
members unanimously agreed that the most
important issue affecting the ARM industry
today is public perception of the industry,"
and that "it was time to get out the truth
about what we do."
ICL uses the stories to educate the
policymakers and stakeholders whose
actions directly affect the debt collection
industry. The group invites consumers,
debt collectors or creditors to submit their
testimonials to: www.collectthetruth.org/
Inspired by a conversation with the
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,
in 2016 the Receivables Management
Association International started building its
own database of consumer testimonials.
"We realized that we need to get better
at documenting the good stories we receive
from consumers," said David Reid, director
of government affairs and policy for RMA.
The group has encouraged its members
to develop a company procedure to track
all compliments from consumers, delete
any personally identifying information
from the testimonials and send them to
RMA on a regular basis.
Right now RMA shares a testimonial each
month in its member newsletter, but Reid
said the group plans to use the testimonial
database in its advocacy work as well. He
even used the consumer compliments RMA
has collected at a conference recently.
"There was someone from a national
consumer group who spoke about how the
debt buying industry was horrible and only
exists to harm consumers," he said. "So when it
was my turn to speak, I said, 'I don't necessarily
agree with comments of the prior speaker. Let
me share some consumer testimonials about
how we help.' I read off five of them, and you
could tell from the folks in the audience-their
expressions were of surprise, almost. They
never thought of it from that perspective."
TAKE IT UP A NOTCH
Empathy. Patience. Collaboration. These
are the buzzwords of the debt collection
industry today, and the qualities agencies
and industry groups are working to
promote and recognize.
"We have a company full of hardworking
and very caring individuals who empathize
with the difficulty that a lot of the times
comes with being in a consumer's situation,"
said Jennifer Reinheimer, corporate secretary
at Client Services Inc.
So consumers say, "Thank you!" and send
complimentary emails and even Christmas
cards to debt collectors because having a
debt is stressful and getting it resolved-
by patient and understanding financial
services experts-is a relief. Sharing these
compliments, both internally and externally,
helps reinforce the fact that debt collection
agencies are doing good work to help
consumers achieve their financial goals.
"Sharing these compliments is good for
us because the vast majority of those in the
industry are trying to do the right thing and
abide by the law," Reid said. "It's time for
those companies to be recognized for that
good work and how they help consumers."
Anne Rosso May is the editor of Collector
often focus on a debt
and determination to find a
solution that works for the
person's unique situation.
Tracking the positive
collectors receive and
sharing the comments with
staff can help reinforce the
behavior you expect during
Debt collection industry
groups are sharing
consumer compliments with
legislators and the public to
help paint a more accurate
picture of the industry.