Thriving in an increasingly-regulated ARM industry is a balancing act that grows only more difficult with time. Each new law means new practices to follow, more training for staff, and additional processes to incorporate into your already carefully-planned collections strategy. But adhering to regulatory requirements doesn’t have to come at the expense of customer care. In fact, doing right by your credit customers can help you naturally avoid the costly fines of noncompliance. As an extension of the customer experience, excellence in compliance develops a positive relationship and ensures customers that they will be treated fairly.

But there is more that can be done. Here are two quick suggestions that can help improve your customer experience.

Perform a Communications Audit

Take another look at your library of customer correspondence. Are your letters producing results? When was the last time you updated the content? Operations managers and their customer service professionals need a legal compliance mindset, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into friendly service. Companies can develop a legalistic style that results in a formal and uncaring tone. A letter might be written in a way that satisfies regulations but fails to present an understanding of the debtor’s situation. Look at the collection from the customer’s point of view to anticipate how they might react to your language. A letter or phone call that seems reasonable to you could sound cold and harsh to a credit customer.

Setting the proper tone with your customers requires communicating with them in a supportive, amicable style. Conveying empathy and taking a collaborative approach moves the credit customer closer toward cooperation. Are you demonstrating a willingness to work with the customer and solve their problems together? A more positive tone can make a difference. The best ARM agents treat customers with respect and courtesy. They work with credit customers to arrange manageable solutions that maintain the relationship while recovering revenue.

Listen to the Customer

What you say and how you say it are important, but are you listening to what the customer has to say? Short satisfaction surveys that respect the customer’s time while providing a sincere sounding board can give you a window into your team’s performance beyond the usual recovery metrics. Conducting customer satisfaction surveys for every agent and every account on a regular basis provides a consistent way to hold your team accountable. Surveys can pinpoint issues before they develop into major problems, allowing you to shape a proactive response early in the process. Use the surveys to let the customer know you are listening with genuine interest.

The challenge is to recognize the customer’s rights but not let that obligation set the tone and language used with them. It’s not enough to simply check the regulatory boxes. The customer relationship — not just compliance — should remain a top priority. So as you fine tune your collection process, consider the customer relationship along the way. Strong, positive interactions can produce results and build a better relationship.


— Greg Dickenson, Senior Counsel (@wrg_gdickenson)