by Sheila O’Leary, Manager, Collections
The word “Collections” often generates a movie-like image of an impersonal, even intimidating, agent making incessant phone calls to collect on a debt. Stereotypes like this can lead to an unrealistic belief that a successful collector is someone who makes hundreds of calls a day. Collections is, in fact, a multi-faceted process that requires compassion, dedication, and time. A deeper look at this process can help credit unions develop a smoother and more effective relationship with their Collections service.
The Art of Repayment Plans
Collections is an art in itself that involves real people, their personal struggles, and helping them find a resolution to the financial problem at hand. The most effective approach focuses on building trust through genuine compassion by prioritizing a solution that is in both the member’s and credit union’s best interest.
This approach takes more than a 15-minute phone call. Every situation is different and the collector needs to be able to learn about what is impacting an account holder’s financial situation to understand the cause of the delinquency. It can be anything from a lost job to relationship conflict. A skilled collector is an avid listener and problem solver who can work with the member to come up with a repayment plan that is manageable within their circumstances.
What Else Does Your Collector Do?
Collectors do far more than seek repayment from delinquent accounts. They also handle the time-consuming work behind repossessions, bankruptcies, and attorney requirements.
Repossessions: This is a complex process. Working a repossession file on a car, for example, may require skip-tracing for the location of the car. After pick up, a collections agent must then ensure that the Uniform Commercial Code filing notices are correct and sent on time. The collector is then tasked with determining the best option for selling, working with the auction house, confirming all invoices are in order, and sending the member a notice of deficiency or surplus once finished.
Bankruptcy Filing: This requires a collector to check over the plan as well as prepare and file claims or reaffirmation agreements on time. They must also keep up with all of the associated court dates.
Accounts with Attorneys: This involves completing information for the attorney to send an accurate validation notice, affidavits, sometimes appearing in court, and more skip-tracing may be involved to locate additional assets once reduced to judgement.
All these tasks keep collectors busy as they work to provide quality service to their credit union clients that reflects the values of member service and trust. While working with a Collections Service, credit unions can and should expect agents who take the time to maintain positive relations with account holders that help them to strengthen their financial situation while also seeing to the credit union’s interests.
At Envisant, we help credit unions undertake the delicate work of collecting on delinquent accounts. Our compassionate, solution-seeking team puts people first. To learn how we can help, contact us at 1-800-942-7124.
(Originally published on CuInsight)