Panel Talks About How to Deal With Consumer Complaints

Companies in the accounts receivable management industry should be forgiven for thinking they are visiting a carnival and not spending time in the office, because their jobs these days look a lot like Whac-a-Mole and less like collecting debt, thanks to regulators who are aggressively rolling out new rules and plans, panelists on this week’s Talk-Off discussed.

“Trying to put all of this together and stay on top of it, it’s really hard,” said Joann Needleman, who leads the financial services regulatory and compliance group at Clark Hill. “I just sent out a meme of someone banging their head against the wall. I can’t keep up.”

Such actions from regulators make it even more important for members of the ARM industry to be proactively attempting to change the narrative and show all the good that the industry does for consumers, said Sara Woggerman of ARM Compliance Business Solutions. The best way to change the narrative, Woggerman said, is for companies to share stories about the positive impact that they have on consumers, who are able to get back on their financial feet and out of trouble by working to pay off their debts. But changing the narrative also includes responding to complaints and being accessible to consumers who have questions or issues that need to be addressed. Addressing those complaints — while making sure that it doesn’t sound like you “over-lawyered” the response — can play a big role in shaping the discussion with state and federal regulators, she said.

Responding to complaints, especially those that are made publicly — such as those made via Google Reviews — is incredibly important, said Chris Repholz of The CCS Companies. In fact, because those reviews can not be removed is a benefit for companies in the ARM industry. That means that responses to those reviews can not be removed, either.

“If somebody posts a complaint saying that it was a scam or that an agent was rude, the best thing to do is have a response and give them an email address and say, ‘If you feel that you’ve been mistreated or if you feel that there was a problem with the way we handled your account, please contact us at the following email address and we’ll respond within 48 hours’ and make sure you do respond,” he said. “But give them the ability to reach out to somebody and then deal with it because you will find that people will go back and will acknowledge that they got a response and the company handled it and that’s one way you can you can help drive up the scores.”

It’s not always just about the individual you are responding to, as well. It’s about all the other people who are going to come to that page in the future and see the complaint and see that you responded to it and proactively tried to help and then see the response from the consumer that the matter was taken care of. That’s why responding to those complaints is so important.

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