When the employees of a debt collection agency are paid according to how much of an overdue debt they collect, the priority isn’t placed on the customer. This approach can lead to aggressive tactics being employed, which are designed to intimidate customers into making a payment. The problem here is that even if a customer ends up paying their account, they’re unlikely to want to stay with a business that treats them with such a lack of respect. Not only are they likely to move to another organization, but as they’re more empowered – thanks to technology – they can easily leave a poor review about their experience on social media. This can damage a company’s brand reputation – something that may take a long time to recover from.
At InDebted, we believe it’s unfair to treat customers poorly, especially as many unpaid accounts are for reasons outside their control, such as a job loss or medical event. Treating customers fairly and respectfully not only gives them a positive experience and helps them get back on track financially, but the business also benefits from greater recoveries and an enhanced brand image.
Our customer service team isn’t remunerated based on commission – that is, dollars collected. Rather we incentivize them according to how they deal with customers. Having staff who are paid according to how well they treat a customer has huge benefits: the customer feels looked after and is more likely to resolve their account; greater recoveries are generated for the business, which is more likely to keep that customer, and the business's brand image isn’t damaged by negative reviews.
InDebted CEO Josh Foreman says staff are encouraged to spend as much time as possible with customers to help them sort out their accounts and improve their financial fitness. “We operate on traditional customer service metrics and our customer service team isn’t compensated by how much they collect as we view this as a by-product of how we service customers,” he says.
"Everything we do is customer-focused. We send customers personalized messages via the digital channel of their choice, and they can respond using the channel they prefer. They can also call us 24/5 if they want to speak to someone."
Focusing on the customer rather than dollars collected has proven to be a very effective strategy for us. Our customer service team regularly receives 4.9 stars out of 5 for customer satisfaction – a highly unusual result for a debt collection agency.
"If a customer is feeling harassed by a debt collector’s call centre staff, they’re not only less likely to settle their account but are very likely to leave a negative review on social media or lodge a complaint to the regulator," Foreman says. "Our approach is different to traditional agencies, and it delivers superior customer experiences and greater recoveries."