The objective for any sales effort by a collection agency to find new business should be to try and turn customers and prospects into friends, according to a panel of experts who participated in a webinar recently hosted by AccountsRecovery.net.
GC Services, for example, has developed 66 questions that its sales people can use when communicating with customers and prospects and when they have answers to those questions, “they have a friend,” said Scott Cole, a senior vice president with the Florida-based collection agency.
But building and growing that relationship is not easy. How often a prospect or customer should be contacted and whether the contact should be a face-to-face meeting, a phone call or an email, are both difficult streams that have to be navigated, the panelists said.
Whereas LinkedIn has been the primary tool of choice for industry professionals to network with one another and their customers, that contact has been shifting more toward other networks, like Facebook, said Adam Parks, the founder of Branding Arc and ComplyARM.
“The line between Facebook and LinkedIn is started to blur,” Parks said during the webinar. “Facebook allows for more in-depth conversations.”
When it comes to Facebook, as more consumers use the platform to complain, Parks advised that no company should ever engage with a consumer via a public social network.
“If you look at the way that Comcast handles complaints, they apologize and ask for the consumer to make direct contact,” Parks said. “They take it out of the public and put it into a standard business channel.”
When it comes to promoting your business, collection agencies should be spending more time online, especially making sure that their sites are optimized for search engines to find them and be able to determine what they are about.
For collection agencies, the risks of not optimizing are greater because the worst-case scenario is if there are complaints from consumers online, then those might show up at the top of search engine rankings. In some cases, companies are creating two Lenovo V570 AC Adapter different websites – one for consumers to use to make payments and another site that is used to share information about the company and to promote its products and services. Simon’s Agency, for example, is going the two-site route.
“People find us on their credit report and the first thing they do is put our name in a search engine search,” said John Viggiano, the marketing and communications professional for Simon’s. “If they come to our corporate site, they end up in our customer-relationship manager and that goes into our sales cycle. So we are setting up a consumer site up and directing traffic to that.”
Cole said that GC Services is not planning on using its website as a promotional tool.
“The folks who contact us online don’t fit our business model,” Cole said. “We don’t want our sales team relying on website leads. And our clients want our site to be more customer-centric.”
To download a copy of the webinar, please click here.