Change management is becoming more important at collection agencies, as they seek to develop processes for efficiently managing an overflow of information that requires updating and adapting systems to comply with an ever-changing patchwork of rules and legal rulings, according to a panel of speakers who participated in a webinar hosted by AccountsRecovery.net yesterday.
The webinar, sponsored by Cornerstone Support and Webrecon, featured Tom Good, the managing partner at Barron & Newburger, Nick Jarman, the president and Chief Operating Officer of Delta Outsource Group, and Roger Weiss, the Chief Operating Officer of CACi and founder of The Collections Coach.
Prime examples of this dynamic are the recent proposals issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which many in the industry expect will become the foundation of a forthcoming debt collection rule, and a scandal at Wells Fargo that saw thousands of employees creating fake bank and credit card accounts in the names of consumers in order to attain sales goals and compensation bonuses. Agencies are faced with the specter of change on the horizon or other news, which, in this case, opens them up to how they compensate their employees, and those executives must make decisions about what to do. Or not to do.
“The question you have to ask is, ‘Who is affected?’ ” said Jarman during the webinar. “Today, most policies affect most departments. So you have to engage them into the process. The biggest problem is that the individuals in charge of compliance do not get the involvement of the people around them. You have to include people and engage them as part of the process.”
Getting employees involved early in the process, before anything is decided, is a surefire way to not only ensure that people feel invested in what is being asked of them, but sometimes, you get a great idea in the process.
Weiss described a new program at his agency that has an employee calling individuals who file what Weiss described as “robo-disputes,” or form letters disputing debts from individuals, usually filed by credit repair organizations working on behalf of those individuals. Rather than just deal with the disputes, one of the supervisors at CACi had the idea to contact those individuals and use the dispute as an opportunity to try and obtain more information from the individual. In many cases, Weiss said, the individual has no idea that a dispute has been filed. So, on a recorded line, Weiss said, they have individuals who are admitting they have no idea about the dispute and many say they are primarily interested in working out some form of payment arrangement or settlement.
The supervisor who came up with the idea received a prize for the idea, Weiss said, but the returns on the initiative have for outweighed what was awarded.
TAKE A STEP BACK
When assessing something such as the CFPB’s proposals, the best approach is to take a step back and look at the themes that are being addressed and start a conversation in your office and with your clients about what is on the horizon, Good said.
“People should start having these conversations now,” Good said. “If you want until the rules are issued, you’re going to be running really, really fast.”