Collector - November 2020 - 18

When collectors from AmCollect in
Alexandria, Virginia, first connect with
consumers by phone, they read an opening
script that includes verification to make sure
they're speaking to the correct person and
the mini-Miranda, and they identify the
client and amount the consumer owes.
"We have six mandatory scripts,"
said Shari Staggs, collection manager at
AmCollect. "Collectors have to say those
verbatim because they each have something
that must be said to the consumer in a very
specific way."
Other examples of verbatim scripts
include the message used when leaving
a voicemail and a prompt for affirmative
agreement that by providing payment
information, the consumer is verbally
agreeing to pay the debt.
Most creditors have a vested interest in
how collectors communicate with their
customers, so some require their agencies to
include specific language. For example, they

"Avoiding the one-size-fits-all approach to
scripting, when possible, allows collectors to
have a more natural conversation."

may want collectors to end every call with
the same appreciation statement, reminding
consumers that XYZ Company is grateful
the customer is working to resolve the debt
and looks forward to doing business with
them in the future.
"We also have a script book that contains
additional scripts that can be modified for
their personality and knowledge," Staggs
said. "We have some collectors who are well-

18

versed in insurance and others who know
only a little about insurance, for example.
The flexibility allows those who are wellversed to use additional terminology specific
to the insurance filing forms because they
know and understand the subject."
Optional scripts provide messaging
but don't need to be used verbatim. The
goal in these situations is to convey the
intent without the constraints needed for
compliance-specific or client-specific scripts.
"We have a list of 30 different validation
statements," Shores said in the podcast.
"Each collector chooses the one they
like best. The way one collector validates
someone might be different from the way I
might say it. Some people might like to say,
'I can certainly understand.' I actually don't
like using that one. I prefer saying, 'I really
appreciate that you shared that with me.'
It feels more natural for me to say that. So,
each person has some guidelines for how
they're going to start off their scripts, while
other parts are 100% scripted."
Avoiding the one-size-fits-all approach to
scripting, when possible, allows collectors to
have a more natural conversation.
"Word-for-word scripts can make it
hard for agents to actively listen," said
Leslie Bender, a compliance veteran in the
accounts receivable management industry.
"The best agents have developed a high
level of conversational intelligence. They
can listen and pivot based on where the
conversation goes. So, I'm more in favor of
talking points rather than strict scripting,
whenever possible."
One of the reasons many agencies rely on
scripting is to reduce risk. In theory, if an
agency requires and trains all collectors to
say the exact same thing, as approved by the
compliance department, it should reduce the
risk of a compliance violation. In some cases,
that may be true.
"When leaving a message, our
collectors have to say the Foti message
exactly as written without changing a
word," Staggs said. "Since making that a
policy and enforcing it, we haven't had to
worry about lawsuits related to leaving
voicemail messages."

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


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Collector - November 2020

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