When it comes to hiring employees at a collection agency, a recent ACA International survey showed that collection agencies are looking for several specific characteristics and skills in potential candidates.
At the Association of Credit and Collections Professionals (ACA) International’s 2016 Annual Convention and Expo, members were asked to rank, in order of importance, six characteristics of effective debt collection agents. Thirty-nine percent identified “integrity” as the most important characteristic. 18 percent raked “honesty” as the next most important trait, followed by “patience” at 14 percent and “politeness”, also at 14 percent.
Members were also asked to rank the seven most important skills they thought collection agents should possess. “Active listening” was identified as the most important skill for an agent at 46 percent. “Service orientation” came in second at 20 percent.
These characteristics show the importance of providing high-quality customer service to consumers. These skills are also valuable for maintaining Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) compliance. As we have noted in a previous blog post, the CFPB is stepping up their scrutiny of companies in the ARM industry in order to find non-compliance. Integrity, honesty, patience and active listening are keys to building a relationship with the consumer in order to work out a payment plan, all without appearing manipulative, unfair or deceptive.
In addition, these skills are useful in building the agency’s client base. Part of the collection business is to attract and keep new clients. Honesty, integrity and service orientation will build a long-lasting business relationship with current clients. Satisfied clients will provide referrals when their business is handled in a professional manner. Potential clients who are met through trade shows and conferences will also be impressed by good listening and service orientation. Debt collection services are not sexy or glamorous, but they are an important service for small and medium businesses. Having a reputation for honesty, integrity and working well with debtors will help bring in new clients.
In short, good customer service is important in all businesses and essential in the collection business. Make sure you have a good training program that stresses the importance of always being professional and helpful when dealing with anyone who comes in contact with your agency.
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