Collector – May 2019 - 13

BESTPRACTICES

BE PREPARED FOR THE
CONSUMER TO RESPOND
If you do feel the situation requires police
intervention, be aware that the consumer
may call you back after getting a visit from
the authorities.
"I've only had to call the authorities a handful
of times after a consumer has threatened
themselves," Hoheusle said, "but when I have the
consumer often will call me back, sometimes
that same day, and demand to know why I called
the police. I tell them: 'Because I care. I don't
want you to hurt yourself and you worried us.'"
Sometimes, though, things unfold
contrary to your expectations. Hoheusle
recalled a situation years ago when a
consumer on the line with a collector said,
"I'm going to shoot myself, I have so much
debt." The collector was frightened and let
his manager know what was happening.
Hoheusle called the authorities and asked
them to do a welfare check on the consumer.
They did and reported back to Hoheusle that
the consumer was OK. A few hours later, the
consumer called ARSI and asked to speak to
the person who called the police on her.
"I thought she was going to yell at me,
but I had my eyes opened," Hoheusle said.
"She very humbly said thank you. She said
she had family who probably wouldn't have
cared this much about her. She couldn't
believe that a collection agency of all places

COLLECTOR 05.19

would take the time to make sure she's OK.
She promised she wouldn't hurt herself and
said, 'I'm sorry I scared you.'"

PROVIDE GUIDANCE AND
TRAINING
The soft skills you've trained your agents
to use in the debt collection process can
come in handy here. Use a friendly, calm
tone, keep your language positive and
express concern and empathy over what the
consumer is saying.
For one of ARSI's regular staff "lunch
and learns," the company invited a
local counselor to review mental health
situations collectors may encounter and
provide language they can use to calm the
person down. For instance, the counselor
suggested the collector could say, "You
just threatened yourself. I need to know if
you are just angry at the situation or if I
should be concerned that you're going to
hurt yourself."
Hoheusle posted phone numbers for
state crime victims reparations boards and
the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on
ARSI's intranet so collectors can give them
to consumers as needed. This can be a good
way to end these delicate conversations as it
gives the consumer a positive next step.
For example, collectors could say to
the consumer: "I'm not a mental health

professional, but I care about you and I don't
want you to hurt yourself. Here's a number
you can call to talk to someone about how
you're feeling. I'm going to hang up now so
you can call that number and get help."
Helping consumers is nothing new for
accounts receivable management firms, but
the concept takes on a different meaning
when consumers make harmful threats.
By acknowledging that this situation could
occur, you are showing your employees that
you have a zero-tolerance policy for threats
of violence and that their safety-and the
consumer's safety-is top of mind.
"The truth is this situation is not a
common occurrence, but you only need
it to happen one time for something to
go awry and the guilt to set in," Hoheusle
said. "I think every agency should contact
counselors in their area and ask them
for feedback on how to handle these
conversations. Or at ACA events, talk
to your peers and find out what they do.
We're always willing to share information.
Because it's so rare, your staff probably
won't know what to do without some
training and that's setting them up for
failure. Even if you never have to deal with
it, at least that safety net is there."
Anne Rosso May is managing editor of
Collector magazine.

13



Collector – May 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector – May 2019

Upfront
Industry News
Best Practices
FYI
Collection Tips
The Robot Revolution
ACA International’s 2019 Convention & Expo
Number Crunching
Calendar
Honor Roll
Education Spotlight
Regulators Should Be In The Business Of Helping The Regulated Comply
ACA SearchPoint
Ad Index
Membership
Last Word
Collector – May 2019 - Cover1
Collector – May 2019 - Cover2
Collector – May 2019 - 1
Collector – May 2019 - 2
Collector – May 2019 - 3
Collector – May 2019 - Upfront
Collector – May 2019 - 5
Collector – May 2019 - Industry News
Collector – May 2019 - 7
Collector – May 2019 - 8
Collector – May 2019 - 9
Collector – May 2019 - 10
Collector – May 2019 - 11
Collector – May 2019 - Best Practices
Collector – May 2019 - 13
Collector – May 2019 - FYI
Collector – May 2019 - 15
Collector – May 2019 - Collection Tips
Collector – May 2019 - 17
Collector – May 2019 - The Robot Revolution
Collector – May 2019 - 19
Collector – May 2019 - 20
Collector – May 2019 - 21
Collector – May 2019 - ACA International’s 2019 Convention & Expo
Collector – May 2019 - 23
Collector – May 2019 - 24
Collector – May 2019 - 25
Collector – May 2019 - 26
Collector – May 2019 - 27
Collector – May 2019 - 28
Collector – May 2019 - 29
Collector – May 2019 - 30
Collector – May 2019 - 31
Collector – May 2019 - 32
Collector – May 2019 - Number Crunching
Collector – May 2019 - 34
Collector – May 2019 - 35
Collector – May 2019 - Calendar
Collector – May 2019 - Honor Roll
Collector – May 2019 - Education Spotlight
Collector – May 2019 - 39
Collector – May 2019 - 40
Collector – May 2019 - 41
Collector – May 2019 - 42
Collector – May 2019 - 43
Collector – May 2019 - 44
Collector – May 2019 - 45
Collector – May 2019 - 46
Collector – May 2019 - 47
Collector – May 2019 - 48
Collector – May 2019 - Regulators Should Be In The Business Of Helping The Regulated Comply
Collector – May 2019 - 50
Collector – May 2019 - 51
Collector – May 2019 - ACA SearchPoint
Collector – May 2019 - Ad Index
Collector – May 2019 - Membership
Collector – May 2019 - 55
Collector – May 2019 - Last Word
Collector – May 2019 - Cover3
Collector – May 2019 - Cover4
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