Collector - March 2020 - 13
How do consumers
prefer to pay?
not allowed to prevent consumers from
venting any frustrations.
Andrea Quist, general manager at
Creditors Protection Service Inc. in
Rockford, Illinois, said her company only
accepts paperwork or payments from
consumers at their payment window.
"If [consumers] are seeking to
discuss their account, we tell them that
department is separate and they must
phone," she said. "I've found that not
allowing consumers to meet face-toface with collectors helps to diffuse high
emotions that we run into from time to
time in this industry, while also helping to
maintain the anonymity of our collection
staff once they leave our office."
Similarly, at Credit Bureau Services, if a
consumer walks in and wants to talk to a
collector, they are directed to call from a
phone booth in the lobby. "We very rarely
have a collector talk face-to-face with a
consumer-usually a supervisor will step in
if it gets to that point," O'Brien said.
Schenck said General Collection Co. has
had a few angry consumers come into the
office over the years, but it's been very rare and
nobody has ever been violent or threatening.
Still, the company takes precautions. There's
always more than one person up front so the
employee at the desk has someone to call over
if they feel uncomfortable.
Credit Bureau Services has many consumers
who come into the office to make a payment,
even though the company offers other ways
"When we talk to consumers on the phone,"
O'Brien said, "we refer them to our website
where they can pay online or we offer to take
payment over the phone, but more often than
you would think they will say, 'I don't have a
bank account-I want to pay this in cash.' So
we give them an avenue to pay that doesn't
require them to buy a money order."
Rather than discouraging this customer
base, O'Brien said the company embraces it.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Credit
Bureau Services runs a customer appreciation
event in the office. Anybody who comes in to
make a payment on their account can draw a
number out of a basket to win a prize, which
could be a book, a gift certificate or even cash.
"People compliment us for offering the
option to pay in person," O'Brien said.
"They tell us it's nice to come in and talk
to somebody. It makes the experience less
negative when you can put a face to the person
you are talking to."
In-person payments can give front desk staff
a unique opportunity to make connections
"Often when we're writing out their receipt,
they'll chat with us about their family or what's
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, 2019
Diary of Consumer Payment Choice
going on in their lives," said Lucille Rhoads,
office manager for General Collection Co.
"It becomes a personal relationship. When I
worked at the front desk, I had several people
who came in who knew me by name, and
we'd talk about how their week was going.
It was a positive relationship, and I think it
encouraged them to keep coming back and
Good customer service leads to satisfied
customers, and if you ask Rhoads, the General
Collection Co. staff feels that deeply.
"We like the open-door policy," Rhoads
said. "We like having a personal connection
with our consumers. I don't think we'd have it
any other way."
Anne Rosso May is managing editor of
Collector - March 2020
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