Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Friday, September 5, 2014

Exit Interviews For Resolved Collections

This week, I’d like to focus in on what goes right – often in collections (first party and third party), focus is given to the non-performing accounts.  Bad debt write-offs, credit reporting, and consequences for non-paying files is the obvious primary goal for any collection manager.  But what about the accounts that have paid?

Just like a collector is focused on the unresolved accounts in their portfolio, a collections manager often doesn’t take the time to evaluate the resolved files under their guidance and care.  This is a big deal, because attention is being drawn away from what is working to resolve accounts. 

So, just like the growing movement to conduct exit interviews for staff that are leaving, to gain perspective and evaluate what has gone right and gone wrong with the term of employment, I believe it’s worthwhile to implement an ‘exit interview’ for consumers that have moved into a collection process, but then resolved their accounts.

Positive Reinforcement and Reclaiming Customers

In our last blog post we discussed positive reinforcement on payment.  This can be tied directly into the exit interview.  Basically, you can ask the customer why they went delinquent, how the communication with them brought them current, and how the creditor and the consumer can work together in future to keep the account current.  It’s also an opportunity to reclaim the customer, if their services had been suspended or cancelled.

A lot of consumers inject emotions into their accounts, where the creditor has an impartial process for certain things to happen at day 30, day 60, and so on.  Often, getting a human perspective of how the credit cycle impacts the customer, it’s possible to adjust the steps you take as a collections manager to evoke a more positive reaction from consumers on the whole. 

The other side-effect of getting consumer feedback on the collection process is that you can share positive feedback with your own collectors.  We received an email yesterday …

“Thank you for your email.  Jenna was fantastic!!!  She was very friendly and helpful.  She provided all the information and closed the case quickly.”

That’s something that can be shared with our collection staff, and make them feel good about the work they are doing. 

Just because a consumer has paid, doesn’t mean the collection department should close the file and never look at it again.  First impressions are important, and so are impressions made after the potentially stressful negotiation of repayment.  If your department or company takes a few minutes to follow up with consumers, share information with them, and keep an open attitude, you will gain brand reputation, recover lost customers, and gain feedback you can share with your staff and use to improve your credit cycle.  Why wouldn’t this be an important part of your process?

If anyone has questions about how we use the exit interview process for consumers who have paid their accounts, feel free to reach out to me.  I’m always interested in discussing what can be done to improve the credit and collections industry’s image.

Thanks kindly,

Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
Kingston Data and Credit
Cambridge, Ontario

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