Debtor to Decision Maker: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar

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September 18, 2012 by Rick B

I first began my business career years ago in the Insurance industry. I thought Insurance Brokers had a bad reputation…until I started working in collections. Unfortunately, I’ve surmised collection agencies are not looked upon favorably by most people. (Almost everyone)

In reality, a reputable third-party collection agency provides a vital service; they recover money that has been earned by a business, which keeps prices down for everyone. Remember, there is no such thing as an unpaid bill…If people don’t pay their bills, the price of goods and services increases for everyone.

Now I know you may be thinking, “Collection agencies collect money because they harass people until they pay”. Truth be told, there are unscrupulous practices taking place in every industry, and collections is no exception. While I cannot deny these practices sometimes do take place, most collection agencies are very reputable companies. They work hard to recover money that has been earned by their clients.

I’ll give you an example, an example that I am proud to share, because it is a first-hand experience of our company, United Credit Service.

A few years back, our company was working on recovering a past-due medical bill on behalf of one of our clients. Upon speaking with the debtor, our collector found out this lady had just been through an unpleasant divorce, and had multiple bills in collections with several collection agencies. This woman was a hardworking individual who wanted to pay her bills, but was simply coming up short on her financial obligations. Our collector took the time to look at this woman’s whole financial picture, and helped her develop a manageable plan for catching up on her bills. I am proud to report this plan enabled the woman to pay her bills in full, which returned valuable revenue to our client.

Fast forward a few years: United Credit Service gets a phone call from a woman who wants to utilize our collection services for her company. After a brief conversation, the woman shared with us that she had once had a personal bill in collections with our company. It turns out this was the lady mentioned in the story above. She got back on her feet, became a decision maker with her business, and remembered the personal experience she had with United Credit Service.

Treating this woman as we treat everyone; with dignity and respect, left a long-lasting impression that benefitted all parties involved.

There are two main points to this story that I hope that you will take with you:

1) People are people, not a number or a file. Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.

2) It is important to work with people, not against them. A highly trained collector is really a counselor; they work on getting to the root of a problem.

Our 60-plus years in the collection industry have taught us what tools we need to collect past-due bills. The right tools only work if the operator knows how to use them. Our team of collectors effectively utilizes these tools, and they are the backbone of our business.  One of the tools we have is honey, that’s to say, a kind word can go a long way.

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