Updated: Aug 21, 2018
Listening and Understanding Counts in Collections
For all of us in the services industry, especially my realm of 3rd Party and Order to Cash Outsourcing, the relationship and the trust to solve complex problems is one, which can be missed during the buying cycle. I often realize though the complexity of day-to-day business how critical true partnership is and one, which should not be forgotten in the crucial matching of the supplier relationship.
My main focus, as an owner of the client / customer experience, it is my job to take the complex issues and turn them into quick solutions for our clients. In the world of 3rd party collection and being the support mechanism between creditor and debtor, this can be a challenge. Over the years I have learned to hone my skills and bring experience plus practical solutions for our customer service team, customer and ultimately their customers as a solution provider. This requires a skill, which seems to be lost in some sense, listening and understanding.
Most of the issues and resolution in credit and collections comes in the form of a dispute or financial difficulty on the debtor’s part. While we are at our best when solving a client problem, working with a debtor maybe challenging and our collectors need the support of their client liaison to accelerate a solution evolving our client. In some cases the added stress and pressure to make good on a large balance due and the personal attachment to a business can bring forward some interesting attempts to contort and distort the real issues. As our collection associates and clients provide vast amounts of data and analysis, we need to take into consideration some of the most important traits of working with multiple groups and ultimately, people. The facts and data provide us with the starting point and deductive reasoning and a good network of skilled solutions oriented resources the rest. The needs for these skills and the ability to have mutual trust through actions are sometimes missed in our industry but for me a clear differentiator in the services industry.
Practical thinking and passion for delivering to the client a quality of service with the right construct to their expectations is not an easy task. But spending your time and effort to understand these needs and expectations goes a long way in clearing the path for a long-term partnership. I have spent many hours with our clients, which are valuable hours as to get the process right and ultimately time and cost of ownership savings for both. Understanding their business and listening to their needs as I stated is unfortunately becoming a lost practice as more and more need for speed drives assumptions and ready-made answers. Grounding ourselves in this service based economy and respecting the needs of the mutual business partners and customers is crucial to best business practice.
As a day in the life of working in a fast paced environment and making each customer a priority can be a challenge in most businesses but mutual investments have been made and value relative to revenue large and small can be made a priority. A careful selection of resources aligned to delivering what has been promised and load balancing your infrastructure, as an investment to serve the client is a simplified way of making sure all inquires and issues are handled as designed with the client. Additionally providing the right working environment to reduce turnover and unplanned change is your risk prevention. Change occurs, people move on but the right people grow with your business and clients long term. Your back up plan, always a highly skilled team to move up and continue the consistent quality of service and relationship always.
When specialization is required, collaboration between all is enabled by good customer practices and bringing forward the best solutions and skills. Trying to do it alone will not strengthen relationships but quickly result in disappointment. It has been my 15+ years mission to have this careful attention to detail delivered in each client engagement by using a full network of people and tools to not be seen as the king of all customer service but a practitioner of bridging relationships for the best outcomes. Networking people and the growing of relationships is truly the best part of all, isn’t it.
Some lessons learned across the way of working with diverse customers, sectors, and people globally which I would say are attributes which make for great experiences. My favorite part of all engagement is the respect, which comes with giving respect and gaining the accolades from positive customer retention through solid outcomes. While service providers such as us in 3rd party collections or providing an outsource service can generally be the deciding factor on revenue recognition, reduced write offs or the hand holding agents through a legal process, listening and understanding are what count in professional and personal success. Automation increases the speed of delivery but personalization and care keep a client and bring business growth.