Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Friday, February 22, 2019

Making Yourself Available On Google

So, years ago when I started in collections, we would call someone with a push button phone, which would ring to their phone bolted to the wall in several rooms in the house, and I can only imagine someone shouting ‘would someone get that?’ before someone picked up, and we would get into the collection call.

Then along came call display, and the number of people who picked up dropped, because they didn’t know who we were or why we were calling.  Some agencies tried masking their numbers, others tried to be decent to the folks who answered so they wouldn’t hide from the issues.

Now, almost 1 in 4 people in Canada do not have a land line (concentrated mostly with 70% of the people 40 and under not having land lines), and the majority of mobile numbers ring to a smart phone with access to the internet.  So people are going to not only answer an unknown number, they may Google that number to see who is calling them.

For fun, I looked up the toll free number of the largest collection agency in Canada, and then Google’d the number.  Here are the website hits that came up for that number (in the following order).

(The company’s generic landing page)

You can see here that while the company itself is the top hit, and their advertising is results #2 and #4, the rest is controlled by consumers.  These consumers are not happy, and no where is there an opportunity to present a positive face to the consumer, the name of the collector trying to reach them, and encourage someone doint some research to call you back.

As an agency, you reach out to hundreds or thousands of consumers every day.  Shouldn’t your online presence address that audience, rather than clients or competitors?  Shouldn’t it encourage people to address their staff directly?

Early on, we set up individual pages for our staff on our website, with a small paragraph bio of who they are and how to reach them by phone or email.  If I google one of my staff member’s names or inbound numbers, our website comes up first.  It doesn’t mean that we won’t get added by disgruntled people to or a similar website, but it does mean we are part of the conversation, putting a human face on our company, and inviting folks to deal with individuals in our company by telephone, email, or web chat, which is convenient for the consumer, and the search also brings up our Google Review page for our company which shows many consumers leaving comments about their positive experience with us.

It wasn’t easy, and it took years for us to build this up, but it gives consumers reassurances that we are easy to deal with.  If you want to do the same thing, we can share what has worked for us, and works well with Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

* Put the collector’s name and telephone number in the URL of the page
* Put the collector’s name and telephone number in the first paragraph of the page
* Upload a headshot of the collector, and make the name of the image their name.
* Put a hyperlinked email address for consumers to reach out to the collector rather than call.
* Don’t be a jerk – consumers are often scared of collectors, so be as open and inviting to communication as possible.

Agencies often are client-facing and spend untold amounts of money on advertising, web banners, websites, industry magazine advertisements, trade show booths, and so on, and that’s all well and good, but we spend the majority of our time outwardly facing towards consumers and businesses listed as debtors and it’s important to be available when they start searching to find out who the heck is calling them.

If you have thoughts about web presences, SEO, or consumer relations, I’m interested to hear from you – leave a comment or reach out to me.

Thanks kindly,

Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
KINGSTON Data & Credit

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