In this era of COVID, inflation, and, well, we hate to say it, uncertain times, training your collections team has never been as important as it is right now. The U.S. government has altered restrictions and policies, meaning that organizations need to reassess their teams not only due to those changes but in the face of the fluidity of societal expectations.
Is your team the right size? Do they have the right skills, particularly where there is a need to handle increased customer demands or new policies?
In this blog, the experts here at TEC Services Group explain why training your collections teams has never been so important and how to prepare your team for this brave new world.
How creditors are expected to treat customers differently now.
Throughout the pandemic, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has shown an increased focus on customer outcomes and set higher expectations for supporting customers struggling financially due to COVID-19.
Compliance failure comes with high costs. From unfair treatment of customers to not acting with due skill, failing to operate with diligence and care has resulted in substantial fines given to organizations in recent years or even a complete ban from debt collection, per the FTC’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The FDCPA prohibits deceptive, unfair, and abusive debt collection practices, and behavior that can result in punishment from the FTC includes using obscene or profane language, making violent threats, calling consumers repeatedly or during unreasonable hours, misrepresenting a consumer’s legal rights, disclosing the personal affairs of a consumer to third parties, and acquiring information about a consumer through false pretenses.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau holds similar enforcement power and rulemaking capability to prevent unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices against consumers. The CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule, which went into effect in November 2021, specifically outlines how debt collectors can communicate with consumers and what information they’re required to provide to consumers.
The Debt Collection Rule protects consumers in the event that a debt collector attempts to harass, oppress, or abuse them. Collectors may not call a consumer more than seven times within a seven-day span and not within seven days after engaging in a conversation about a particular debt with a consumer.
Furthermore, debt collectors are forbidden from reporting a debt to a credit bureau unless they’ve spoken with the consumer about the debt. The Debt Collections Rule also prohibits debt collectors from posting public social media messages about a debt and, instead, must clearly state their intent to collect through private messages and offer an alternative method of contact.
Creditors are expected to provide support for debtors before payments are missed and offer both short- and long-term payment options—this falls under allowing a reasonable amount of time to repay what money is owed. The days of allowing debt to escalate are gone, and sustainable repayment plans must consider the customer’s overall financial situation.
Why training your collections teams has never been so important.
Now more than ever, collections teams need to get it right for their customers by ensuring processes, procedures, technology, and policies have the customer at the forefront of collections.
Whether it be a large number of new staff, or existing agents that need refresher training, proper preparation with the customer at heart is crucial for the identity, well-being, and success of your organization.
Your agents should be familiar with and able to use the technology they’re provided with and understand new software updates, installation of new systems, hardware upgrades, and new government-led policies that affect how we work. This goes a long way in your company’s overall productivity and can all be learned and reiterated through collections team training.
The right training will teach employees the skills to build meaningful relationships with customers and increase their drive to repay their debt while ensuring staff knows the importance of bettering the conversation with fair treatment of customers. You want to get the right outcome the first time for your customers and understand the needs of your customers, both in the present and future.
As the leading technology and professional services firm in the credit collections industry for over 24 years, TEC Services Group offers comprehensive collections team training that utilizes expert-level IT skills and services to strengthen your organization in areas of opportunity. Contact us to begin: (941) 375-0300.