Talk-Off Panel Talk About Importance of Engagement

The theme of yesterday’s Talk-Off, featuring Leslie Bender from Clark Hill, Aaron Reiter from InterProse, and Jennifer Whipple from Collection Bureau Services, was engagement. While discussing several different aspects of trends and ideas within the accounts receivable management industry, the panel kept circling back to the importance of engaging with consumers and engaging with co-workers, while also sharing some great ideas to help facilitate those interactions.

While persuading consumers to pay their debts might be the equivalent of trying to get a child to eat his or her vegetables, that doesn’t mean that companies should sit on the sidelines of social media and not share details of all the good they do and all the people they help, the panel agreed. Keeping the message fun and upbeat can help cut through the noise and negative aspects of debt collection, while also allowing the industry an opportunity to dispel all of the myths and negative comments that are often made.

“We get a lot of complaints in our industry because of poor information on the Internet,” Whipple said. “And social media saying, ‘Do these things and it won’t be on a credit report anymore.’ And we all know that’s not true. That’s not accurate.”

Noting that consumer advocacies and credit repair organizations have become “masters” at using the Internet to drive traffic to their websites when consumers go online to search for information about debt collectors or letters they received, Bender said that social media channels like TikTok offer collectors the chance to “start influencing” consumers by telling the “good stories that collectors are able to do.”

A lack of engagement with a consumer leaves collectors with options that nobody wants to use, such as credit reporting and collection lawsuits. Getting the consumer to engage has to be the objective for everything that a collection agency does, the panel said.

The panel also talked about why companies might prefer engaging with consumers via email than text messaging, and the benefits that email has over texting.

Finally, the panel talked about the importance of engaging with co-workers and subordinates, and how empathy — legitimate empathy, not the false kind — is absolutely imperative to make people feel important, feel like they have been heard, and to keep them happy and not thinking about leaving for another job.

Whipple shared some questions that get asked around the office on a daily and weekly basis to help employees connect with one another, learn more about each other, and engage with one another. She also shared details of a program in her office, called “Goal Getter of the Week.” The prize goes to someone who helped the company achieve its goals during a particular week, with the winner receiving a plaque that is displayed as his or her desk.

“Maybe they brought something for a potluck, or they brought doughnuts when the team was needing some motivation,” she said. “Just fun little things and my staff say they really love it.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Prefer to listen to The Talk-Off instead of watching it? Check out the podcast, which is just the audio recording from each episode. Never miss an episode by subscribing to the podcast on your favorite platform.

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