Collector – November 2019 - 35

Speaker
Q&A
T

he right communication technique can mean the difference between a compliment and a complaint.
Susan Donham, marketing director for Merchants Credit Association, presented on this in her session,
"Compassionate Phone Skills for Today's Agent," at ACA's 2019 Annual Convention & Expo. We talked with her about
it as well as the personal transformation that led her to embrace this topic.
Why is the topic of compassionate
phone skills so important to you?

I started working as a bill collector in
1995. I witnessed the industry transform
when it came to engaging in consumer
communication; a transformation I believe
began in 2008. From my perspective, this
transformation came about for several
reasons, including the increased use of
cellphones, the rise of the internet and the
financial crisis of 2008. Prior to this time, I
was considered one of the firmest collectors
around the office. I had no difficulty
advising someone that their balance was
due. However, eventually that approach
stopped working.

ACA Achievements:
Professional Collection
Specialist, Trainer
Specialist Program, Fellow,
Scholar, International
Fellowship of Certified
Collection Executives and
Master Credit Executive
designations; ACA
International Member of
the Year Award and James
K. Erickson Continuous
Service Award

COLLECTOR 11.19

At the same time, things were changing
in my personal life. I was around six
years sober at this time when I realized I
could be of service to other women who
found themselves in similar situations.
Because of this, I underwent a personal
transformation and learned how
compassion can reach someone, and this
knowledge filtered into my day job.
My boss, Scott Wiswall, has always
advocated for using power words to
improve consumer conversations. I started
using more of these positive power words
in my talkoffs and they resulted in helping
me connect with people. I would be aware
my new phrases were successful when I
would hear collectors around me repeating
them on their phone calls.

How did you develop this seminar?
In my current role as marketing director,
I often speak with our clients, who are
in health care or financial services.
Several expressed an interest in a training
series that could help their employees
improve conversations with consumers
regarding past-due accounts. I created a
presentation focusing on compassionate
communications, and it quickly gained
momentum. Our clients' employees,
especially in the health care world, didn't
start out wanting to be bill collectors.
That's not their industry. They want to
help people and the techniques in this
presentation allow them to do just that.
Because it's been well received by our
clients, I thought it would be helpful for
other ACA member agencies.

What questions did the
audience ask?
They didn't have a lot of questions
for me during the presentation, but
they were very engaged and eager to
participate, which showed me they were
truly taking in what I was teaching.
Afterwards I had collection agency
owners, trainers and managers come
up and thank me for the presentation
and share their own experiences with
consumer communication. One of the
best compliments I received was when a
woman thanked me for providing content
she can take back to her agency.

Do you have any tips for ACA
members who have never
presented at an industry event
before?
My first piece of advice is to just go for it.
Submit your presentation and see what
happens. Quite honestly, I didn't think
ACA was going to pick my presentation for
the Annual Convention, because while the
concept is excellent, I'd never presented for
ACA before. So I didn't have any expectations
on it, but of course I was really pleased to
hear that I'd get to do it. I'd also tell people
who are new to presenting: honor your
audience. That means you need to develop
your skill set so you can reach your audience
and respect their time. Don't just wing it-
really take some time to put your
best effort into the presentation. It
will show.
Reported by Anne Rosso May.

35



Collector – November 2019

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

Upfront
Industry News
Best Practices
FYI
Collection Tips
Do Your Policies Measure Up?
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Call Evaluations
The (Slow) Race to Clarify the TCPA
Honor Roll
Calendar
Education Spotlight
ACA’s LevelUp Leadership Experience
Lead the Next Generation Through Mentorship
Texas Tackles the TCPA
Never Give Up
A Resource Every Member Needs
Rising to the Top
ACA SearchPoint
Ad Index
Membership
Last Word
Collector – November 2019 - Cover1
Collector – November 2019 - Cover2
Collector – November 2019 - 1
Collector – November 2019 - 2
Collector – November 2019 - 3
Collector – November 2019 - Upfront
Collector – November 2019 - 5
Collector – November 2019 - Industry News
Collector – November 2019 - 7
Collector – November 2019 - 8
Collector – November 2019 - 9
Collector – November 2019 - Best Practices
Collector – November 2019 - 11
Collector – November 2019 - FYI
Collector – November 2019 - 13
Collector – November 2019 - Collection Tips
Collector – November 2019 - 15
Collector – November 2019 - Do Your Policies Measure Up?
Collector – November 2019 - 17
Collector – November 2019 - 18
Collector – November 2019 - 19
Collector – November 2019 - The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Call Evaluations
Collector – November 2019 - 21
Collector – November 2019 - 22
Collector – November 2019 - 23
Collector – November 2019 - The (Slow) Race to Clarify the TCPA
Collector – November 2019 - 25
Collector – November 2019 - 26
Collector – November 2019 - 27
Collector – November 2019 - 28
Collector – November 2019 - 29
Collector – November 2019 - 30
Collector – November 2019 - Honor Roll
Collector – November 2019 - Calendar
Collector – November 2019 - 33
Collector – November 2019 - Education Spotlight
Collector – November 2019 - 35
Collector – November 2019 - ACA’s LevelUp Leadership Experience
Collector – November 2019 - 37
Collector – November 2019 - Lead the Next Generation Through Mentorship
Collector – November 2019 - 39
Collector – November 2019 - Texas Tackles the TCPA
Collector – November 2019 - 41
Collector – November 2019 - Never Give Up
Collector – November 2019 - 43
Collector – November 2019 - A Resource Every Member Needs
Collector – November 2019 - 45
Collector – November 2019 - Rising to the Top
Collector – November 2019 - 47
Collector – November 2019 - ACA SearchPoint
Collector – November 2019 - Ad Index
Collector – November 2019 - Membership
Collector – November 2019 - 51
Collector – November 2019 - Last Word
Collector – November 2019 - Cover3
Collector – November 2019 - Cover4
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